Introduction: Simple Wine Making (Huckleberries)

Picture of Simple Wine Making (Huckleberries)

This simplified recipe for making wine yielded some of the best tasting wine ever.

Step 1: Collect Your Materials.

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You will need something to drain the berries with.

Step 2: Get Some Edible Fruit. These Are Huckleberries.

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I think the huckleberry is the "secret" to how smooth this wine ended up tasting.

Step 3: One Balloon Will Be Needed.

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Short and fat balloons work good.

Step 4: The Cheesecloth Helps With the Draining.

Picture of The Cheesecloth Helps With the Draining.

You could use a substitute, I have boiled a plain white T-Shirt and used that before.

Step 5: A Funnel and Two Packets of Yeast Are Needed.

Picture of A Funnel and Two Packets of Yeast Are Needed.

Some recipes call for champagne yeast. Normal yeast has made good tasting wine for me.

Step 6: An Empty Distilled Water Jug Works Perfect.

Picture of An Empty Distilled Water Jug Works Perfect.

You will need the lid too.

Step 7: Clean the Berries.

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Get rid of the stems, leaves, and berries that are not ripe. Also throw out berries that look dried up.

Step 8: You Will Need Four Cups of Cleaned Berries.

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This does not have to be exact. Close enough is good enough for all the measurements in this recipe.

Step 9: Measure Out 2 and a Half Cups of Sugar.

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Set the sugar aside for a few.

Step 10: Smash the Berries.

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The plastic piece I use for this works good and does not hurt my glass measuring bowl.

Step 11: The Berries Should Be Smashed Until They Look Like This.

Picture of The Berries Should Be Smashed Until They Look Like This.

If you stop here, you have created a good dye. Do not get it on anything unless you want it purple.

Step 12: I Had to Pour the Berries Into a Bigger Bowl.

Picture of I Had to Pour the Berries Into a Bigger Bowl.

The bigger bowl makes it harder to "chase" the berries around to squish them. The smaller bowl makes it harder to stir the ingredients up later. So two bowls are used.

Step 13: Pour the Sugar Onto the Berries.

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The ratio I am using is 4 cups of fruit to 2 1/2 cups of sugar.

Step 14: Pour Six Cups of Boiling Water Onto the Sugar and Fruit Pile. Stir.

Picture of Pour Six Cups of Boiling Water Onto the Sugar and Fruit Pile. Stir.

Whatever you stir this with may be stained. This may be true of your other vessels used with the berries.

Step 15: Cover the Mixture With the Cheesecloth. Allow to Cool to Room Temperature.

Picture of Cover the Mixture With the Cheesecloth. Allow to Cool to Room Temperature.

Save the cheesecloth. Rinse it when done.

Step 16: Pour the Cooled Mixture Into the Jug.

Picture of Pour the Cooled Mixture Into the Jug.

Pour it slowly and poke the berries if needed so they do not clog your funnel. It overflows the funnel kind of easy and you can lessen it by lifting the funnel a little to let the air escape from the jug.

Step 17: Now Pour the Yeast Packets (2) Into the Jug.

Picture of Now Pour the Yeast Packets (2) Into the Jug.

Add the yeast. You should have more in your jug because this batch spilled some.

Step 18: Use the Jug's Lid, and Shake Up the Berry, Sugar, Water, and Yeast Mixture

Picture of Use the Jug's Lid, and Shake Up the Berry, Sugar, Water, and Yeast Mixture

The balloon you "install" in the next step will fill up with gas. When it sags, you can drink the wine. Or, you can put the lid back on for another round of shaking. If you do, reinstall the balloon and wait until it sags again. Note: If the balloon only fills a small amount it may not sag. You can look in the side of the jug and see bubbles moving. If there is no movement and it is not refilling the balloon, it is probably done. The batch that tasted best so far was shook after 2 days and 4 days.

Step 19: Install the Balloon.

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It helps to stretch the balloon a little at first. The lid is not on the jug.

Step 20: Use the Cheesecloth and Strainer to Catch the Seeds, Skins, and Parts You Do Not Want to Drink.

Picture of Use the Cheesecloth and Strainer to Catch the Seeds, Skins, and Parts You Do Not Want to Drink.

You can strain the wine a couple of times and get it pretty clear. Only one time around yields cloudy wine. It still tastes good though. More sediment reveals itself later by settling in the bottle. My guess is that the sediment is either yeast or sugar or some of both. Shaking the bottle up will alter the taste of the wine.

Step 21: Here Is What the Wine Looks Like When the Sediment Settles.

Picture of Here Is What the Wine Looks Like When the Sediment Settles.

The sediment does not mix much with the wine if you pour slowly.


ben.howat.77 (author)2015-02-11

to any one out there after draining the fruit into a bottle for the second fermentaion process , do i just wait for it stop producing bubbles to drink? (im making plum wine)

kithso (author)2014-06-06

Quick question, I have some blueberries that have already started to ferment a bit. Can I use those or should i just toss em?

russ5 (author)2009-04-20

How long does it take for the sediment to sink. I made my batch 5 days ago and my fruit (white grape) is still floating. Also, my balloon is not filling up much although it is bubbling like crazy. It seems to be well sealed (I used a couple of bread ties to secure it. HELP!!!

mikeasaurus (author)russ52009-05-14

Hey Russ5, I read your comment and thought I'd reply:

How long does it take sediment to sink?
This varies widely depending on what you made your wine from. Some fruite have more particulates than others, and sometimes the sediment has minimal density and remains suspended, this can last for days, weeks...dare I say months?! Your best bet is to use a bentonite clay mixture (available at your local u-brew store!) which will bind to the particles and sink them. From here you should rack your wine (possible twice) and you've got yourself clear wine.

Your method of attaching your balloon using twist ties is troublesome. The idea behind the balloon (read: airlock) is to allow gasses to escape while keeping foreign air out, it should be a one way system. By using twist ties you are not ensuring a good seal and run the risk of bacteria infecting your batch (I've seen it happen, and it's gross).
If you want the balloon route try attaching it using rubber bands, then use a pin to poke one very tiny hole at the top. this should work for you.

Hope this helps. How did the batch turn out?

russ5 (author)mikeasaurus2009-05-15

Thanks Mikeasaurus! I understand exactly now. Funny you should mention the bentonite clay. Tried it a few weeks ago but it really didn't clear very much. I have since done some reading on the subject of winemaking and have stocked up on the appropriate equipment and chemicals. The batch I made here was awful (I'm sure due to my inexperience), and I have since moved on to apple cider using a REAL airlock. Big difference. It is surprisingly potent and potable. Thanks again for your comment!

littlewinemaker (author)russ52013-08-01

where do you get bentonite?

mikeasaurus (author)russ52009-05-15

no probs.

One last word of encouragement:
I have yet to meet a brewmaster that has gotten it right from the first batch. I'm a seasoned brewer and I still make the odd batch that turns out wonky (though usually an experimental batch).
We learn from making mistakes, and I would take 10 bunk batches to make 1 unique batch of something I am really proud of.

Another though it to keep a log book detailing the date and process you took for each batch, that way you can avoid mistakes the next time.

Good luck russ!

russ5 (author)mikeasaurus2009-05-15

I appreciate the encouragement and your excellent advice. The log book is most definitely the way to go. Nothing like repeating the same mistakes over and over again! Persistence is truly a virtue in this process.

try using aquarium tubing and a cork with a hole for the tubing. After sealing the cork and tubing on the brew end with melted paraffin insert the other end of the tubing into a container of water, fix it so that the tube stays in the water. That will do the same thing as a balloon and it won't run the possibility of exploding. You can find paraffin where jelly/jam making and canning jars are in any grocery store.

Gamernotnerd (author)2008-04-01

Think my mom would notice if I did this (I'm 12)

they make it in jails and in prisons. if you learn now you can take your experience with you.

deth2all (author)Gamernotnerd2008-04-03

ya, im telling on you

Gamernotnerd (author)deth2all2009-09-01

I'm now 13, and my Mom is actually helping, we're using strawberries.

lil jon168 (author)Gamernotnerd2009-11-23

lucky that will probly taste good

isildur0804 (author)Gamernotnerd2009-08-18

i'm only 11 and my mom didn't care...

brewhaha1 (author)2009-11-12

hey everyone, just a quick question. my fried and i decided to make this on a whim and used a large container of hawiian punch bread yeast and sugar( the measurements of which, we cant be totally sure of) . We understand that this is not the ideal way to make it, but i was just wondering if it will still work. also, one of the ballons was fermenting like crazy, so much that i had to replace the balloon. any thoughts or tips would be appfreciated.

Try using an unlubricated condom, it has a lot of stretch and will fit around bigger bottle tops.

air.guitarist (author)2008-02-23

I just started on my first batch, its cooling right now. I used grapes though. About how long do i ferment it for? After its done fermenting and i strain it i just bottle it? And about how long does it stay good or does it even spoil...sorry for the stupid questions im new at this.

Fermenting seems to take days not weeks. I did have someone tell me recently that if you use less yeast you can make it take a month or two to ferment fully. I'm not that patient. Yes, after the fermenting all you need to do is strain and bottle it. You may end up straining it more than once. Especially after you have let it sit in the bottle for a week or so. It is not necessary to let it sit before drinking some of it, but it lets a lot of the sediment settle and you get a clearer wine. Wine will last a very long time if you boil water and pour it into your bottle first to sanitize. The cork has to have a good seal and you want to keep it out of the sunlight and away from heat.

any idea how to make it have enough alchohol in it to lite on fire? I kinda like fire.

you would have to go through the distillation process which is under moonshine recipes.

lil jon168 (author)pyromaniac212009-06-16

you have to distill it

isildur0804 (author)lil jon1682009-08-18

my balloon exploded and i got yeast in my eye i found it better if you use 1 and a half packets of yeast

and i posted dat coment at 2:48 pm not 11:47 am but whatever GO SLEEPY SLEEPY RULES SO DOES BOB BARKER and AOL

lil jon168 (author)rolltiderusty2009-11-23

if you use bread yeast i would recomend using less yeast because it would taste like bread

littlewinemaker (author)2013-08-01

problems with stretching balloon? Try an unlubricated condom

mindyswine40 (author)2013-02-22

Ok, I filtered my first bottle of this Pear/Apple. I tasted a little bit and it is dry... I know next time to add more sugar. I have another bottle still going and it has a little more. I can't wait to taste it.

mindyswine40 (author)2013-02-11

I am trying out some Pear/Apple Wine using the steps in this method. How big do you let the balloon inflate till you shake it again? Mine haven't gotten big yet, as I just started it yesterday.

xfirexstarzx (author)2010-06-24

First off, nice instructable. Secondly, I have three changes I would make to this instructable if it were mine. 1) The plastic jug that you're using for fermentation isn't safe to use for alcohol. the alcohol can dissolve some of the plastic making the wine harmful to you. There is also the problem of the plastic not being smooth and therefore making it hard to sterilize. If anyone is going to make wine, they should stick with glass (Unless they go out and buy a special fermentation bucket made of alcohol resistant material. Even then I wouldn't trust it because of scratches.) 2) The yeast can pose a bit of a problem. I'm not against bread yeast (I've used it quite a bit and nobody ever knows the difference) but you put in way too much yeast. For a batch that size, a teaspoon will be enough yeast to ferment the batch. If you ferment everything too fast, you'll end up with an off flavor. Not to mention an enormous amount of yeast on the bottom of your container. 3) I've never strained a batch of wine. I really don't think cheese cloth is going to remove much more than the fruit from your wine. You still have a bunch of yeast in suspension. A little trick is to siphon the wine off from the fruit and yeast. The fruit floats or sinks. It won't stay in suspension. The inactive yeast sinks. If you siphon the wine out of the middle, you'll get a little yeast (but don't siphon from the top or bottom). Let that wine set for a week and siphon it off again. If you do that a few times, you'll have crystal clear wine VERY little sediment in your bottles.

joel383 (author)xfirexstarzx2010-10-29

" the alcohol can dissolve some of the plastic making the wine harmful to you. "

this is a common myth. go to the liquor store, about 1/4 of all the bottles will be plastic. particularly the cheap vodkas. as long as it is food grade plastic there *should* be no problem.

The scratch thing is another debatable item. i use milk jugs and food grade 5gal buckets. Being a bichem/biophysics major, i know that it is a Possible place to harbor bacteria, but in practice i have never had a bad batch. i don't use sanitizer either, i use hot water ~180*F for the containers and boil the implements and all small components...

163.4*F is the temp that most things are pasteurized at. technically it denatures the enzymes in the bacteria killing them.

"2) The yeast" that off flavor is the same as the off flavor of cheap vodka/tequilla diacetyl. pitching the yeast while warm will release more diacetyl in the early stages than the yeast can reabsorb during the secondary stage

rolltiderusty (author)2010-09-20


You might try putting it in the sun, adding a little sugar and yeast. You may want to buy new yeast in case yours is just not working enough. Also, I shake mine up to get it working when I add stuff.

Good Luck,


joel383 (author)rolltiderusty2010-10-29

sun is generally not good in the fermenting process, particularly with beer. photo-chemical reactions will give it a skunky taste

Whales (author)2010-09-22

So, I'm under the assumption that this specific recipe makes 1 gallon? I think i might be wrong, so please correct me if so.

sml7799 (author)2010-09-17

Help,someone? I am in the fermenting stage of wine-making using this method and my balloon isn't inflating nearly as much as the one pictured in this slideshow. It's not flat but it's inflated only slightly. And it hasn't deflated from a fuller state or anything... when I put on the balloon, it puffed up to this size almost immediately, and hasn't changed at all. Is something going wrong? If so, how can I repair? And if not, how will I ever know that it's ready??
Thanks in advance for any assistance u can give...

fiddleboyster (author)2008-08-30

I am trying some peach wine like this right now. Has anyone tried nutmeg or cinammon in with the must? I am curious to see how it would taste with peaches. I may just have to try it myself. Also, does it hurt the fermentation to take the balloon off and taste a little even if the balloon is still inflated? A++ on the instructable btw.

I tried cinnamon in some hard cider. it ruined the batch. If you have to add it, I would recommend doing it after the primary fermentation.

jjay10 (author)2009-12-20

I just finished my first batch of this wine and it is absolutely delicious. I used muskadine grapes and it came out very good for my first time.

KlingonAtheist (author)2009-11-12

My very first batch was with 4 pounds Kiwi Fruit. Absolutely NUMMY! I can't thank you enough. This is the new Christmas/Birthday/Anniversary present.

dbmMD (author)2009-11-04

can these be substituted with any fruit that has a lot of juice?

DubRunner (author)2009-10-02

lastly not to forget proper sanitation of equipment coming in contact with your wine wild yeast can make the whole batch go bad and like mike said i have made more bad batches then good but i'll keep going and trying one key is to pick something you like and brew it over and over and over again to perfect it to your taste. Just remember if it's the best tasting beer or wine to you than who cares what others think. Tell them to go make their own

kilaldatym (author)2009-07-26

if i dont have any wine bottles to put my mixture into after the fermenting process would canning jars be ok.... and also i have been reading diffrent ways of making it and alot of them call for the campden tablets? if i use them should they be added in the jug or should i put it in my final bottle.

aidankeeble (author)2009-07-25

Love this! tried it and it worked great! :) good work.

dominickriegle (author)2009-07-22

When I put the balloon on top of my jug do I poke a smail needle size hole in it? If soe how many holes do I poke?

cupofsoup (author)2009-06-07

hay man my first batch was perfect long ago. its working with frozen fruit thats a pain .blueberrys are driving me nuts but anouth of my problems to help the newer berwers this helps to know: when the sugar gets eaten by the yeasty beasty alcohol is made and only so much alcohol can be made when its at this point the alcohol starts killing the yeastybeasty(yeast)and the bacterias so if your like me and pour a glass to early once in a while and you get a up set tummy you know why peace out panhead

lil jon168 (author)2009-03-23

my batch is finished i just have to let it age but i dont no if i want to try it

AlexTheDude (author)2009-03-20

Tip: poke small holes in the balloon with a needle or something that it wont explode or pop. did you ever try distilling the wine or is it forbidden there?

nodnol (author)2009-03-08

Can anyone suggest an alternative to using a balloon? I'm profoundly allergic to latex...

lil jon168 (author)2009-03-08

i started my batch last night and the ballon EXPLODED during the night and scared the crap out of me so i just put a napkin and rubber bands to keep it on

rhanxha (author)2009-01-07

whoah! awesome. i didn't thought that making wine would be this easy..(it looks easy on the photos) i'll try it some time! (,)

thewaytolos (author)2008-09-02

Great Instructable.. This has really peaked my interest and I might have a new hobby which I owe to you. I just got one questions anyone know what the possible dangers are involved with this like can anything go deadly wrong?

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