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How to Make Wine

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Making wine is actually pretty idiot proof, with the right stuff, equipment, and sanitizing again and again.

In this Instructable, you'll learn how to make fruit wines, including grape wines. This instructable will focus on the techniques, equipment and materials, rather than recipes.

You'll need to procure some equipment and some chemicals but don't worry. Most of it will last many batches with the proper cleaning and maintaining.

EDIT: Wow. 200k views! Never thought I'd actually get this many. I will be preparing another batch before too long, so I'll try to include some more photos.

 
 
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Step 1: Legality and Warning

Winemaking, also known as Homebrewing, is completely legal in the US and many other places. As follows is what I KNOW is legal in the US(1):
1. You can make up to 100 gallons by yourself or 200 max, if you live with other people, annually.
2. You may not sale your homebrew.
3. You must be 21 or legal drinking age to make and drink your homebrew. *
4. You may not distill spirits.
5. You may share and taste homebrewed beverages
*Technically it is 18, but you'd 99% of the time be seeking to consume or possess alcohol, which is illegal.

Since you are producing substance that kills more people a year than most forms of cancer, you will need to treat alcoholic beverages with the respect they command.
1. Do not drink and drive.
2. Do not drink while pregnant.
3. Do not drink if you suffer from liver, heart failure, or anything else just about.
4. Consult your doctor if you are unsure how alcohol will interact with any drugs you are taking.

Home wine making is not making moonshine. It will not cause you any more harm than consuming alcohol does. You will have few, if any, methyl alcohols that cause blindness. You would die from alcohol poisoning long before having to worry about this.

Additionally:
Almost all commercial wines contain sulfites. This Instructable teaches users how to add sulfites if needed. This may be left off if sulfites cause alergic reactions to you or those you want to consume the wine. Potassium Metabisulfite MSDS
Sodium Metabisulfite MSDS

Potassium Sorbate is potentially added if additional sweeting is required. Do not add if you are allergic to it. Here is it's MSDS Potassium Sorbate MSDS

Finally, your final product will be about 12-18% alcohol. Keep that in mind when serving.

With disclosures and warnings out of the way, let's go to it!

1= Wiki Link
why cant the glass bottle be scratched?
Because the scratches will house unwelcome bacteria.
As Seakip18 said, bacteria... but there's a host of other reasons too... cracks (+pressure) and mean leakage of flavours and outside air may be able to squeeze through the scratches (if they're deep enough), contaminating the wine. :)
Seakip18 (author)  MisterMissanthrope5 years ago
If there are scratches, bacteria can actually manage to hide inside the gaps. No amount of sanitizing will be able to truly remove them. It sucks, but I'd rather play it safe than risk losing a batch of wine that will age for a while.
this was okay, but can you upgrade your information
dead hawk11 months ago
with the balloon idea, if you poke a hole in the balloon with a needle it will let the high pressured CO2 out while keeping air out at the same time.
Hatched11 months ago
Sanitizer:I left Star-San in the container, put in a little distilled water, swigged it around. I can leave it in there? I didn't mess up my batch horribly?
kubehtoe1 year ago
can I use oak barrels instead of plastic bottles?
Thanks for this instructional. Just one comment: the possessive pronoun ITS such as "pour the juice from its container" does NOT have an apostrophe. It is not a contraction. The contraction IT'S stands for the two words: it is. Correct grammar and punctuation lends itself to a more professional blog. Thanks!
Sean07181 year ago
Thanks for this! I just finished, but have one question. I put whiskey in my airlock (only alcohol I had lying around and it said it didn't matter). However, some of the whiskey dripped into the wine when I was placing the airlock on. Is this alright!?

Again, thanks!
mguer1332 years ago
I am very surprised you are calling wine an apple based beverage; over here (France), wine is only a grape fruit based beverage. Is this an American localisms?

Why would you use a pasteurized juice that is made out of concentrated juice and then add bacteria when you could just press you fruits with the bacteria already in them? There would then be no need for adding sugar for example.

Other than this, it is an interesting process but it does not sound natural to me at all and I can not see the point of all this if you have to use industrial ingredients...

Let me know if there is something I have not understood (I'm French after all lol).

Mickaël
Seakip18 (author)  mguer1332 years ago
Thanks for your comment!

Wine is best known for it's grape origins. However, any juice liberated from fruit and fermented can be called wine. Apples = apple wine, plums= plum wine, etc.

The bacteria in the fruit/juice is not yeast. Yeast is what is responsible for giving us the flavor, mouthfeel and alcohol. Almost all brewers, big and small, rely on prepackaged yeast if they do not have their own line.

While one could go ahead and press the fruit and liberate the juice themselves, I found it to be outside the scope of the instructable, I figured I'd go cheap, fast and easy.

The sugar and other stuff? I explain why those are needed respectively.

Again, thanks for your comment. I can definitely understand how some if seems pretty strange.


I doubled checked the yeast part as it troubled me for some time. There is no yeast used whatsoever in wine making. There is some in cider or beer making. When making red wine, the juice is pressed out of the grapes AFTER they have starting fermenting (bacterias eat the sugar to turn it into alcohol). The grape are then pressed and the juice is left to ferment. In the white wine making procedd, the grapes are collected very mature, pressed straight away and the juice is then left to ferment. There might be some sulfates used to control the fermenting process but the use of acids is illegal in France. When the fermentation process has eaten up most of the sugar content, it is stopped and the juices are transfered to wine barrels for a proper rest. Only after those few months of rest can it be called wine. Most of the good quality wines are transfered from one type of barrel to another in order to give it its distinctive taste and maturity. The bottling process happens after at least a year of rest. Only then can it be called wine. The whole wine making process only requires grapes and patience. If you do it overwise, it can not be called wine. At the best, it's a fruit juice based alcohol. Still you can enjoy this type of drink but calling it wine is a commun missuse of the word.
Umm, well according to my information, yeast IS USUALLY added to the must in French wines. In fact, some of the wine yeasts used around the world ORIGINATED in France. For example, Premier Cuvée, Pasteur Champagne, Côtes des Blancs, Epernay, Montrachet etc.

Natural yeasts (those on the skins)can be used, but are unpredictable at best and can ruin a good wine at the worst. Sulfite, if used is tipped into the must either beforeafter the grapes go through the crusher. The yeast is pitched a day later. The wine is pressed some days after skin contact (with reds) when enough colour has been obtained.

From Wikipedia: "The English word "wine" comes from the Proto-Germanic "*winam," an early borrowing from the Latin vinum, "wine" or "(grape) vine", itself derived from the Proto-Indo-European stem *win-o- (cf. Hittite: wiyana, Lycian: oino, Ancient Greek οἶνος oinos, Aeolic Greek ϝοῖνος woinos)."

Since the ENGLISH word "WINE" does not come from the French language, the French cannot claim that it only applies to fermented beverages made from grapes. Until such time as another word is "invented" for fermented drinks made form other fruits, I think wine is a good word to describe them.
Well I am sorry if this is turning into a word fight lol I was only commenting on the knowledge I had of the wine making process I have witnessed.
Reading the well documented wiki, I seem to understand I am not to far from being on the right path. That is of course from the french legal point of view. If you make a beverage out of anything else but grapes, it is illegal, again in France, to call it wine. But it might be ok to sell it abroad.
I'll talk to a friend of mine who happens to be a wine maker and check all this for you.
The use of the word "Vin""over here is strictly controlled, hence my missunderstanding for its english equivalent "wine".
I'll keep you posted on what I find out if you are interested.
Seakip18 (author)  mguer1331 year ago
Thanks for looking into it more.

I'm curious about the control and regulation of terms.

It sounds very close to American Bourbon vs. American Whiskey. In the US, you can only legally call whiskey "Bourbon" if it fulfills certain requirements, including the mash being a certain amount corn and the barrels being new, etc.

Be sure to follow up!
And what do you call the beverages made of fermented apples and plums? Do they have specific names?
the only "natural" drink I know of made out of apples is cider. I do not know anything else but plum alcohols. This could be a derived use of the original word that has taken a different path.
Seakip18 (author)  mguer1331 year ago
Thanks for looking into it more!

As for the definition of acids, wine and so forth, it differs region to region.

That said, grape wine, or as most know as just wine, is produced in the same manner as most other wines are. Take plum wine or apfelwein as an example.

As for wine varieties, such as Champagne, etc., these are tightly controlled names that have certain requirements in order to be labelled and called such.

As for the fresh grapes, the majority of the fermentation is likely due to wild yeast vs bacteria. While bacteria can produce ethanol, you would likely end up with vinegar if they were the principal.

As for acids, K2S2O5 would classify as a salt. Using it in conjunction with fermentation from wild yeast would yield a better product than none at all.

Thanks again for raising such good points!
Pbyrd1 year ago
Oh, and when I pull the airlock out and put it back in, the water goes to its original level and the little dome thing does as well.
Pbyrd1 year ago
Okay, so I've done this and I'm having a problem with the airlock. The water level is much higher than the amount of water I put in it and the little done thing that's in the middle is pushed all the way to the lid of the airlock. Is this normal? If not, what can I do?
Pbyrd1 year ago
I would really love to try this, but I was wondering what sort of quality would the wine be? I'd like a good quality wine, not "hobo wine" as many people call it. On a scale from 1-10 what quality would this be? And could you use cork to seal the bottles for storage, and if so how would you sanitize them?
Seakip18 (author)  Pbyrd1 year ago
Compared to most commercially produced wine, I'd definitely not call this "hobo wine". You're not going to be opening your own chateau with your first production, but I think you'll be pleased with the results as long as you stick to it.

If you need a number, where 1 is garbage juice and 10 is a fine wine with the mastery of it's maker and quality subtly imbued into every smell and sip, I'd say this is a 6-8, given the budget. It'll give anything you buy a run for it's money for sure.

Before filling your cleaned bottles, sanitizing EVERYTHING that will touch liquid will greatly decrease the risk of spoilage due to any bacteria or microorganisms. The includes the caps/corks. See the sanitizing step.
Pbyrd1 year ago
I would really love to try this, but I was wondering what sort of quality would the wine be? I'd like a good quality wine, not "hobo wine" as many people call it. On a scale from 1-10 what quality would this be? And could you use cork to seal the bottles for storage, and if so how would you sanitize them?
dakiro2 years ago
If you are making wine from juice only, add the nutrient and also some acid.
If you boil the water with sugar, which is a good idea if you are not lazy like me, then squize a lemon into the water. This will help the sugar to invert into simple sugars. Acid also supports the growth of yeast and insufficient acid might result in off taste. I am quoting from C.J.J. Berry.
dakiro2 years ago
Great instructions.

I like the tip with the turkey baster - I am using a 50ml syringe with a piece of thin plastic hose attached.

I would definitely want to have a hydrometer too, if you buy the equipment, buy a hydrometer as well, this will let you have much more control over the fermentation.
Buy pectolaze to get rid of some of the haze, it IS cheap, invest if you want to have wine from fruit you can have jam from. Not tried yet but there is also an enzyme getting rid of starch haze.
co'brien32 years ago
So I have a potentially foolish question preceded by some statements: I've never made wine or any other type of alcohol before, however in your instructable it says to check the airlock regularly. What are the chances something should go wrong with the airlock if not checked? (I plan on using a balloon), I have an apartment that is several hours away from my summer home that i will be visiting soon, and then returning to in about 5 weeks. It would be perfect if I could concoct this brew while I'm there and then just leave it to ferment whilst I'm away. Is that feasible, or am I asking for trouble?
http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-your-own-Fermentation-Lock-Not-a-ball/step2/Methods/

Just read this and thought it was very helpful for a DIY state-of-mind...
:)
Seakip18 (author)  co'brien32 years ago
I would highly suggest getting a rubber stopper and 3 piece airlock if it's going to be left alone for long periods of time without inspection. Any homebrew supply store will have this, and it's highly reliable. For the $3 plus shipping, it's well worth it to have piece of mind while you're away.



If you're set on the balloon approach, however, you can keep an eye on it for the first week, then it will probably be fine, as that's when the highest amount of CO2 is created.
What an excellent tek!! So well explained and super helpful!
BOOM56012 years ago
I just finished setting it all up to ferment. I juiced apples for it, so there is LOTS of pulp in there, will that cause a problem?
Seakip18 (author)  BOOM56012 years ago
Sorry for the delay in getting back!
It'll be fine. I would use a straining bag, or if you can't find one, cheese cloth to filter it out before bottling. That pulp can clog up the hoses and filling mechanisms easily.

To use, simply siphon from the fermenter into another bucket with the liquid passing through a straining bag(which is usually big enough to go around a bucket or through a funnel with a hose on the end with cheese cloth in the middle.

Don't forget to sanitize anything that comes in contact with the liquid!
I've finished fermenting and have bottled it. Even though there was a lot of pulp in there, after filtering it looks exactly like step 11, so now im hoping it will finish clearing up in another week or two.
Also, I'm doing this for a Biology project, and why does it have to be fermented in a dark place?
Seakip18 (author)  BOOM56012 years ago
UV light is very harsh to the wine. While this lacks hops, which are particularly sensitive to sunlight, wine can have it's various flavor compounds broken down via UV exposure. This is why you don't find wine or beer in clear glass bottles typically.
bozzchem6 years ago
This was a good primer on the overall process of winemaking. While this will certainly make an alcoholic beverage akin to wine, you'd be far better off using a commercially available wine kit and skip using the store bought juice/dextrose combo. The dextrose will provide you with a high alcohol yield but at the cost of the flavors imparted by the fermentation of the natural fruit sugars. Fermentation can be boiled down to this: Yeast eat sugar (fructose, dextrose, glucose, etc.) piss alcohol and fart CO2. You are enjoying the waste products of the yeast. The suggestions regarding sanitation are not too be taken lightly! If in doubt, sanitize again. If anything (bacteria) takes hold before your yeast do, you are in for one hell of a shock on your first sip...assuming you can get past the smell. All in all, an excellent tutorial along with great money saving techniques. Making wine is exceptionally easy if you take the time to sanitize everything properly and, as suggested, get the proper tools.
commercially available wine kit...pffft.
Lolicon4 years ago
What kind of bottles could I use? And what kinds of bottles are recommended? I'll assume that wine bottles would be best, but without a cork machine there wouldn't be a point, because you wouldn't be able to cork them.
Seakip18 (author)  Lolicon4 years ago
I've got a corker and kegs, so I typically fill a few bottles before kegging. You can actually use soda bottles for this as well. Those big jugs I poured all of the juice from will work. Just pour all of the sanitizing liquid from the carboy into them and let them dry. Prior to filling, resanitize them and their caps.
Okay, thanks!
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