Instructables

Making your own wine

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Well I knew that how to make wine was a burning question for a while, and when I started this there were zero instructables on the topic, but now there's plenty! The method I'll be showing here is from a kit, but don't be fooled, there's still loads that can go wrong. In this instructable I'll try to outline both the kit method and the true home-brew method by stating how and where they are different.

Be aware that there is no 'one method' for making wine, so try your own variation using these guidelines and make sure you browse the bar on the right to see how others did their wine!

what you need:
If you go to your local homebrew shop they'll have all this equipment, usually in a package deal.

Primary Fermenter
Any food grade container will do the trick, what were looking for is a giant pail that has a lid and can fit at least 24 litres (6 US gallons).

Carboy (secondary fermentor)
Really just another container of equal volume to the primary will suffice.

Airlock
A good item to get, but if you want to do it the way I used to when I was young and poor your can just use cling-film, seriously it works. Don't laugh.

Rubber bung
see above

Siphon hose
any food grade hose will work. Garden hose is not food grade

Stir device
self explanatory

Sanitizer
I use this pink stuff that is a chlorinated sanitizer, when mixed with water it's super soapy. You can also use bleach and water solution but it involves much more rinsing and is less fun, so don't bother.

Oak chips (optional)
Berries (optional)

Wine Kit
It's got all the goodies inside! But if you're not doing the kit method then you're going to need all of the above stuff plus:
Sugar
pH balancer (most homemade wines will have an acidity or alkalinity that will not promote the yeast to activate and could potentially kill the littel guys (yikes!) add this to ensure the pH is suitable for your new best friend, yeast!)
yeast (Champagne yeast works really well as it has a higher tollerance to alcohol and will last up to around 14%)
Bentonite (a type of clay that binds wine poteins which help for clear wine, which everyone enjoys)
Sulphite (a wine stabilizer that prevents microbial growth and allow your wine to age properly. Also an antioxidant)
Potasium sorbate (inhibits yeast after fermentation has completed and prevents renewed fermentation. Because there is nothing funny about a cork popping out and red wine all over the floor)
Kieselsol (a gelatine, it's is used for two reasons: clarification and reduction of astringent wines (bitter))
Chitosan (A naturally charged polysaccharide derived from chitin, extracted from the outer shells of ocean crustaceans. When combined with Kieselsol, Chitosan will clarify wine in a short time and is syphoned away from the clear wine as part of the sediment)

Enough talk! LET'S DO THIS!
 
 
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npanrob19 hours ago
Thank. I'm made it.
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BARKing8 months ago
Nice job. I have one concern though and that is the use of your sanitizer.

Sani Brew or Diversol is a cleaning agent that contains bleach and TSP and more, used to remove dirt, wine or beer residue, mold and such. It will sanitize with 20 minuets contact time.
For beer soak for 20 min. and rinse well.
For wine clean equipment rinse, then sanitize with a solution of potassium Metabisulphite. The sulphite solution will neutralize any residue from Sani brew and will sanitize in 30 seconds.

Potassium Metabisulphite is used to stabilize the wine and will not harm the wine if some gets in.

For racking, fill hose with water and hold in one hand the open end at the apex of the racking tube, then slide the racking tube carefully down the side of the carboy and place it on the bottom in the sediment, careful not to stir the sediment. Raise the opposite side of the carboy slightly ( 1/2 inch) 1cm. Quickly drop the open end of the siphon hose into a small bowl. When the first puff of sediment is through pinch off and finish racking into clean carboy.
Cheers!
mabari19752 years ago
Hi everyone, I am a beginner and going to start my first formal batch of 20 liters with Red grape juice made from concentrate but preservative free (the ones available in super stores). I am wondering how much sugar I should add to get 14 to 16 percent alcohol content while not making it sweet?
mikeasaurus (author)  mabari19752 years ago
Assuming you already know that there's a difference in "grape juice from concentrate" found in grocery stores and the "grape concentrate" found in brew stores (hint: pH and sugar levels are very different) then you'll need a strain of yeast that can survive fermentation to 14-16%. 

Specialty yeasts aside, the best all-round yeast for brewing (in my opinion) is champagne yeast. It's hearty, has a fast activation and can ferment up to around 14%.

Also, brewing juice from a grocery store will probably result in a sweeter wine no matter what. There's a reason the good stuff is found in brew store and costs what it does.

I'm interested in your results. You will share your wine make story here, won't you?
akinich4 years ago
i have a question
which yeast do u use
in the local store they have active dry yeast
will that do?
also nice instructable
akinich
mikeasaurus (author)  akinich4 years ago
akinich,

The type of yeast I use is champagne yeast, available from any u-brew store and most super markets. Coast is about $1.50CAD a packet.

Your question "can I use active dry yeast".
Yeast for wine is from the same strain as yeast used for bread saccharomyces cerevisiae, however I wouldn't recommend using anything other than wine yeast. It's cheap, and easily available.

Hope this helps, good luck!
my problem is that i live in india we dont have wall mart or radio shack or u brew place we have our local supermarkets only and active dry yeast is only available
mikeasaurus (author)  akinich4 years ago
In that case, try it and see what happens. As mentioned, bread yeast and brew yeast is from the same strain and should work. Just remember to sterilize your equipment and containers before brewing and keep a lid on your primary. If you can, take some pictures while brewing. I'm interested in your results. Good luck!
I'm in Turkey and am totally self-taught. You don't need yeast or any special equipment. The West is so shop orientated. A homemade wine is much tastier and much stronger than any bought wine. changing one's idea of 'wine' is important. Our ancestors didn't buy yeast or have 'brew stores', The secret of home made wine is the timing. How long to fast ferment? When to first rack? When to second rack?

People in my village (I'm originally English, though have been here for many years) don't wash anything and don't remove rotten fruit and their wine is potable, even good, but erratic. My wine is also erratic as I'm not serious enough, and make it because I have to use the grapes to stop them filling up the roof tiles...but I've made some excellent wines, even a few bottles that I've had to water down, they were so strong. I recommend taking notes each year on how you make your wine and which timing and which method has given the best result. Climate and grapes will affect the timing, and you have to be attentive too!

For me, finding a practical crushing method has been the challenge, but today I found it! One bucket made, more tomorrow...
altomic6 years ago
"Learning to siphon while not touching the bottom of the carboy alone is an art in itself and worthy of an instructable" measure the height of the carboy and then make a mark 4 cms less on the hose. where the mark is get a lid from the top of can you used a can opener to remove. (i.e. a round metal disk) cut a whole in the centre for your hose to go through make a cut almost to the centre and the a second cut parallel to that one 9(about 1 cm away). turn the disc horizontally around 180 degree and make the same 2 cuts n that side. the metal between the parallel cuts you bend up and then getting hose clamp or plastic tie or even gaffer tape attach the metal to the hose. this will stop the siphon hitting the bottom.
mikeasaurus (author)  altomic6 years ago
Hahaha, somehow I knew the community wouldn't let me down. Nice save there Altomic. Another idea I've seen work is feeding the hose through the rubber bung opening to the specified height, as well as purchasing a hose clip, but personally I like anything that's home made more than anything else.
Or you just look how low you put it, hold it with your hand and whip it out when the sediment is about to be sucked up...I make wine with zero 'kit' and zero 'equipment'
cme273 years ago
The reason why is hard to keep from sucking the sediment from the bottem is because the hose is bent and you have little control. An easy way to get better control is to zip tie a thin metel rod or clothes hanger to the hose then you can get it all the way to just below the bottem. Always remembering to sanitize first.
kaypee4 years ago
I make mead - only the most basic of kits required and really easy to make. You need 1.5 kilos of honey, a 5-litre (1 gallon) pan or pot, a 1-gallon demi-john, a lemon, wine yeast, yeast nutrient, and an air-lock. I use a baby-safe steriliser to clean all the kit. Heat up the honey in enough water to make 4.5 litres of liquid until it is just about to boil. Cool it to blood-warm, add the juice of the lemon, a teaspoon of yeast, a teaspoon of nutrient; pour it into the demi-john and fit the lock. Leave it in a warm place for 6 weeks and replace the lock with a stopper - leave it in a cool place for a year and then bottle or decant to drink.
make an instrucktable
on that, lol.
mikeasaurus (author)  kaypee4 years ago
Thanks for sharing your recipe. I have ea friend that makes mead, it's delicious.
Lmatho4 years ago
Hi- Great instructable. A few quick questions: 1) Do you use an air lock during this step of primary fermentation or is it just closed? 2) I have some family friends that will do the primary fermenation with out any cover/lid. Can this be done? 3) These same folks don't use yeast, but the liquid does ferment. They use real grapes. Can this be done as well? Thanks in advance. LM
mikeasaurus (author)  Lmatho4 years ago
Some informed questions here, I'll do my best to answer them:

1) I don't use an airlock for the primary fermenter. However, they do sell lids with an opening that can accept an airlock (but if you wanted, you could easily cut it yourself.)
I don't seal the primary fully, I leave a small portion of the lid unsealed to allow for gases to escape. This does pose an issue for rogue bacteria to be introduced, but I've never had an issue. Ensure your area is clean, heated, and free from excessive moisture and dust and you'll be fine.

2 & 3) Questions 2 and 3 will be answered together:

The reason your family friends don't ferment with the lid on is they want wild yeast to be introduced to the juice to begin fermentation. So, yes, you can complete the primary fermentation without a lid.
The method that uses wild yeast as the catalyst to fermentation is called indigenous yeast fermentation. As you've observed this is done with crushed grapes (not concentrate or juice/concentrate blend). Though not every all-juice mixture uses this method, typically all-juice are the only ones that use this technique.

There is a school of thought that believes in minimal handling of the wine, this includes artificially introducing many of the items I've listed in this instructable such as finings and even the yeast used to start fermentation.
Here's a good quote:
"Fining and filtration are other examples of 'interventionist' techniques that...critics object to because they perceive them as excessive manipulation which compromises wine quality. This view is contradicted by assertions from top...winemakers that a properly carried out fining or filtration can improve the quality of some wines."

What you friends are doing is a 'hands-off' approach to wine making. Though not difficult it is usually the stuff of a seasoned veteran because there are more considerations to be aware of when using this style. As well gambling on indigenous yeast you also need to ensure the pH of your juice is right to allow fermentation to occour, by prescribing to this style you limit the tools available which may aid in creating a good wine. Not much use going 'au natural' then using finings for clarity and any stabilizers. That would be like growing your own vegetables for dinner then ordering a side of fries from McDonalds.

With so many variables, and the expensive cost of all-juice mixtures, this method is usually undertaken by someone with experience in brewing and is able to handle any unexpected events.

I hope this answers your questions.
Are you considering trying your own brew?
Thanks for your complete answers. I have experience with home brewing beer and know how important it is to have clean equipment and monitor the fermentation process. My friends family are from Europe and have been making wine this way for over 50 years, so I know it works for them. They dont add any finings or oak chips etc. I am considering brewing my own batch using their grape blend and methodology, but the wild vs winemakers yeast was a concern. I guess the question is should I use the wild yeast method or the campden tablets/winemakers yeast. This is to be a blended house wine, not an attempt to be a prize wining wine. Thanks in advance for your advice.
What purpose does racking serve? I'm new to this and trying to write up a recipe. I've read several tutorials and some omit this step entirely. I was wondering if you could explain it a little bit further?
mikeasaurus (author)  KillerSANDWICH4 years ago
sure! Racking is the method of siphoning the wine off the sediment. After primary fermentation the yeast has consumed all the sugar and goes dormant, sinking to the bottom of your fermentation vessel. By placing a siphon about 25mm (1") from the bottom you avoid most of the heavier sediment while only siphoning off the clear wine. When you're done you'll have your original primary fermentor with a sludgy mess and another vessel with mostly clear wine. Some people rack multiple times, waiting a period of time between each to allow for settling and separation to occour. You can expect to lose about a litre of wine with your first racking, substantially less fir each successive rack. Don't let that sludge fool you though, it's not all bad. If you make beer and wish to have a secondary fermentation (carbonation) you'd need to leave the sediment. But that's a topic for another instructable... Hope this helps!
idogis14 years ago
There's a friend of the family who has been doing this for years, the stuff tastes like battery acid and has a high enough alcohol content to be used as fuel. Good stuff.
ashtonwings5 years ago
my parents decided to make wine when I was about 14 and they made it in our bathroom downstairs, well they kept the giant glass jug there. anyhoo our bathroom smelled of fermenting fruit for like 6 months after the wine was gone! it was the weirdest thing. be careful when trying your wine the first time, my parent had like a 1/4 of their very small glass and were literaly gripping the table for support along with my grandparents. very funny to watch not funny to do as I'm told, so drink your first glass with caution. especially if you are using plums!
kirnex5 years ago
Love this!! My German grandfather used to make wine all the time, using plastic gallon milk-jugs (he'd crush the milk jug down and was able to tell better when the fermentation process was almost complete, since the gases released in the process would cause the jug to expand again). However, there was something about drinking his wine knowing it'd sat in that jug in the damp basement (it didn't help that he didn't believe it "rinsing things" after he washed them with soap, and apparently had a gut-of-steel, as he was known to eat things WAAAAAY past their prime).

This is a nice, classier throwback to those memories. My grape vines finally have some fruit on them, so I think I have to try this! Thanks for posting it! Awesome job.
mikeasaurus (author)  kirnex5 years ago
Gramps:
it didn't help that he didn't believe it "rinsing things" after he washed them with soap, and apparently had a gut-of-steel, as he was known to eat things WAAAAAY past their prime
Haha, gotta love the crazy old-timers logic. Seriously though, sterilization is no joke, I have seen many homebrews ruined by bacteria. beware!

Making wine from grapes:
Step 4 touches briefly on the topic but it bears repeating. Make sure the pH levels are stabilized before adding any yeast to ensure fermentation can occur. Kudos for going the extra mile and using real grapes, you'll have to let me know how it turns out.

Thanks for sharing the story, Good luck!
Wired_24_76 years ago
Nice instructable... I think I'll stick to making my own beer, I really doubt I can make wine that can compete with the great state of California in which I already live and have access to lots of incredible wines for under $10.
mikeasaurus (author)  Wired_24_76 years ago
So true, there's definitly a threshold you cross where making it becomes more about the art of brewing and the satisfaction you receive rather than monetary savings. Interestingly, although I don't have the luxury of cheap wine where I live, I find the same holds true for me and beer, as it's cheaper and much less hassle to buy beer than it is to make. Strange how a little geography up the coast makes a big difference.
Cool! Explained nicely, detailed nicely, instructions were clear and easy to follow. Nice job, you got my vote. +1 vote.
mikeasaurus (author) 6 years ago
don't forget to vote for your favorite 'burning questions 4' instructable! (like this one!)