How to Make Wine




About: I am currently working as a programmer. I hold a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering and an Associate of Science in Computer Science. I have a strong background in physics, electricity, and compute...

In this instructable, I will demonstrate the process of making a medium-quality apple wine.

Step 1: Materials

You will need the following as base materials for this project. There are cheaper ways to do this, but the resulting wine will have a different taste and texture. These materials will produce a medium-grade wine, somewhere between hobo wine and connoisseur wine. Check out the Alternatives step for other options.

1 - bottle of the cheapest vodka you can find (isopropyl alcohol also works for this, but requires a bit more rinsing)
1 - gallon size sauce pan (or whatever large size you might have)
1 - pair of tongs

Bottle and Bottling:
1 - 5 gallon water-cooler jug (or a 5 gallon carboy)
1 - large funnel
1 - pack of coffee filters

Air Lock:
1 - 6" section of 1/4" inner diameter PVC pipe
1 - 4' long 3/8" inner diameter, food rated vinyl tubing (The "food rated" quality is important for safety.)
1 - rubber stopper, 1-3/16" x 1-1/2" x 1" to go on the jug
1 - empty 20 oz bottle
1 - drill with 3/8" bit

Wine Contents:
2 - 1 gallon jug of apple cider, preferably unpasteurized. NO preservatives.
1 - 5 lb bag of granulated white sugar
1 - WLP775- English Cider Yeast

I don't have receipts for any of this, but here are my best estimates, and estimating high for worst case. (Also, rounding up to nearest 5 increment, for those checking my math.)

Vladimir vodka: $15 (only maybe 1/3 of it was actually used in this project though)

Bottle and bottling: $40. (We had to buy a full 5-gallon water jug, which drove the price up. Empty jugs would lower the cost down to around $25. Check Craigslist for empty jugs.)
-Jug: $35ish
-Funnel: $1
-Coffee Filters: $1 (only like 1/10 of these were used though)

Air Lock: $15. (All parts can be picked up at your local Lowes or Home Depot. Also, this cost is assuming you already have the drill and bit.)
-Stopper: $5 (came in a larger pack)
-PVC pipe: $3
-Vinyl tubing: $5
-20 oz bottle: $1

Wine Contents: $30 (Shipping for the yeast hits this number pretty hard. It was almost as much to ship the yeast as it was to buy it.)
-Cider was about $4 each with tax
-Yeast was about $14 with shipping
-Sugar was about $7 with tax

One time (Start-up) cost: $50 (bottle, air lock, and funnel)
Content cost: approximately $9.50 per gallon for 4 gallons, or $11 per gallon for 2 gallons

Step 2: Bottle Preparation

Be sure to follow the first rule of home brewing: Sterilize everything. The purpose of sterilization is mostly for your safety, but you also don't want anything in your bottle or on your equipment that will kill the yeast or change the taste of your wine.

Fill the 5 gallon jug about 1/3 full of hot water from the sink, then add 2 shots of vodka. The vinyl tubing I had was just large enough to go over the small part of the funnel, so I put the funnel under the faucet and the vinyl tubing into the jug. If your funnel doesn't allow this, you can fill other containers you have full of water and pour them directly through the funnel placed on top of the jug. Put the rubber stopper on once you have enough water. (A note from experience: push down firmly on the stopper to make sure the jug is sealed tightly. Otherwise, you're going to have a mess). Swish the hot water and vodka all around the jug to thoroughly rinse it. Afterwards, remove the stopper and empty the water back into the sink.

Refill the jug about half full of hot water from the sink. Add a liberal amount (no less than 5-6 shots, but more is ok) of the cheap vodka to the water. The alcohol in the vodka will kill any random bacteria in the jug, so don't be afraid to use a lot. Add another gallon or so of hot water and swirl the contents to mix the water and vodka. Finish filling the jug with hot water. Swirl it around a few times, then let the bottle sit until the water reaches room temperature. Go on to the next step while you're waiting.

After the bottle reaches room temperature, pull the cork off and empty the jug again. Let the bottle air dry for a few hours. Optionally, you can rinse it again with warm water to get any of the remaining alcohol out of the jug. Let it air dry again if you do.

Note: Isopropyl alcohol will work in place of the vodka, but isopropyl alcohol is not safe to drink where the vodka's alcohol is safe to drink. If you use isopropyl, make sure to rinse the bottle out again, very thoroughly, before you add any of the drinkable contents.

Step 3: Make the Air Lock

You will want an air-tight seal on your jug to prevent outside contamination, however, the fermentation process produces carbon dioxide, which will build up pressure in your jug and possibly cause it to burst if the jug is sealed. What you really want is a system that allows the carbon dioxide to exit, but nothing to reenter. We will build an air lock to serve this purpose.

Using your 3/8" drill bit, drill a hole roughly in the center of the rubber stopper. Shove the 6" PVC pipe through the stopper so an inch or so is sticking from the bottom. It sometimes helps to cut the end of the PVC pipe at an angle if it won't go through. Alternatively, you can twist the drill bit slightly to bore the hole a little bit wider. You want a tight fit though, so don't bore it out too much.

Step 4: More Sterilization

Put your pan on the stove then fill it a little over half way with water. Get the water hot enough so it starts to bubble, but is not entirely boiling. Put the newly made air lock into the water and leave it in for about a minute. Remove it with tongs and set it on a cloth to cool down and dry. Curl up your vinyl tubing and put it in the water for about a minute as well. Remove with tongs and also let it cool down and dry. Take your vial of yeast in the tongs and put it in the water for about 10-15 seconds to sterilize the outside of the vial. Make sure not to leave it in much longer or you will kill the yeast. Place the yeast with everything else to dry. Lastly, dip one end of the funnel into the water, then flip it over after about 30 seconds. Place the funnel off to the side to dry. Empty the water from your pan and let it cool for a few minutes.

If you haven't already done so, make sure your 5-gallon jug is cooled down and let it dry. You might want to wait about an hour or so to make sure it is thoroughly dry.

Step 5: Start Brewing!

The 5-gallon container might entice you to think that you'll be making 5 gallons of wine. However, feasibly, you shouldn't produce more than 4 to 4.5 gallons in it because of the amount of foam that is produced on top. The last thing you want is a mix of foam and dead yeast to clean up.

In your sauce pan, pour approximately one-half gallon of the cider and set the burner on low to warm the cider. For each gallon of cider you plan to make, add approximately 2 cups of sugar to the warmed cider. Stir the mixture until all the sugar has dissolved. We had no problems getting 4 cups of sugar to dissolve in the half gallon of cider, but if you are making more cider than we did, you can repeat this process with more warm cider if you cannot get all the sugar to dissolve. When the sugar dissolves, the cider should look cloudy, but not actually show the sugar.

You can add more than two cups of sugar per gallon. It's mostly a matter of taste. If you add more sugar, the wine will come out a bit sweeter and slightly more alcoholic (1-2% more at most, give or take). At a certain point, adding more sugar won't increase the alcohol content, but will still make the wine sweeter.

Using the funnel, pour one full gallon of the cider into your 5-gallon jug, then slowly pour the warm cider into the jug. Shake the jug around a little to mix up the cider. Next, pour in just under half the vial of yeast (the vial is supposed to make 5 gallons, but we're only making 2). Afterwards, add in the rest of the cider.

Place the air lock on top of the jug and press it down hard to make sure it has a good seal. Place one end of the vinyl tubing over the PVC pipe sticking out of the jug. Fill your empty 20-oz approximately three-fourths full of water and add a shot of the cheap vodka for sterilization purposes. Place the other end of the vinyl tubing in the 20-oz under the water.

The yeast thrives in dark places with temperatures between 68 and 74 degrees Fahrenheit, so store the entire apparatus in a warm, dark place. We put ours in the closet with the water heater.

Step 6: Wait

The fermentation takes approximately 3 weeks to be complete. After a few hours or a few days (depending on the yeast and amount of sugar) you should start seeing foamy bubbles forming on the top of the cider. What you are more interested in is bubbles in the 20-oz bottle because that is the carbon dioxide leaving your wine. You will see bubbles for a large part of the three weeks while the fermentation is happening. After a week, check every few days (or more often, if the mood strikes you) to see if the bubbles have stopped forming in the 20-oz bottle. (Also, on a side note, it can be very relaxing to just watch the bubbles form and the gas escape to the top.)

Once the foam subsides in your 5-gallon jug and the bubbles stop in the 20-oz, the fermentation is basically done. However, it is recommended to leave the wine sit for another 2-3 days once the bubbles stop to let any remaining yeast die.

Step 7: Bottling

What you have now is wine, but the wine is polluted with dead yeast which you don't want to drink. You have two options: pour out as much as you think you can get without the dead yeast, or pour it through a filter. With just pouring, expect to lose anywhere from 20-30% of your wine because of the yeast. If you use a filter, You can reduce this to 10-20%.

When you're bottling, don't be greedy. For a good tasting wine, you want the quality product with as little yeast as possible. The closer you get to the bottom, the more dead yeast you'll end up with in your bottled wine. Think of drinking pulpy orange juice. That's kind of what the wine's texture will be like if there is a lot of dead yeast.

The easiest place to bottle your finished product is in the jugs the cider came in. If you are bottling to give some to friends and family, 2-liter bottles from Pepsi or Coke (or Mt. Dew in our case) make ideal containers. Make sure you wash them out and sterilize them like the 5-gallon jug at the beginning before pouring any of the finished product into them.

Sterilize your funnel and the container (you remember the first rule, right?), then place the funnel in the container. Wet down one coffee filter and place it snugly at the bottom of the funnel. The water helps the filter stick to the sides of the funnel, which will prevent dead yeast from bypassing the filter. Slowly pour the cider from the 5-gallon jug into the funnel. Don't overfill the filter. Only fill the filter about half to three-fourths full at any time for best results. Change your filter often. Initially, you will have a fairly steady flow of cider through the filter into the container. When it noticeably slows down, let what remains in the filter finish draining and then change the filter. Throw the old filter away and wet down the new one like the first. Don't be stingy with the filters. By changing them fairly often, you're going to save yourself time from the slow drains, and also have a higher quality finished product. Also, if there is a lot of the dead yeast stirred up in your wine, set down the 5-gallon jug and let it sit for a few hours before continuing your pour to allow the dead yeast to resettle.

Once you are finished filtering as much as you are comfortable with, empty the rest of the yeast-laden wine down the drain. Let the bottles sit for about 24 hours before you consume any. This will give any dead yeast that slipped through the filter time to settle to the bottom and will give you a much smoother wine. Serve chilled or room temperature, whichever suits your taste.

Congratulations! You have just brewed your own apple wine! Now it's time to relax, have a nice dinner, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Step 8: Alternatives and Other Suggestions

We made two different batches of wine because it was our first attempt at brewing. We actually used the empty glass bottles that the cider came in to do a different batch. We used approximately 5 cups of sugar per gallon instead of two. The wine was a lot sweeter and was generally the favorite of people who tried both versions. It was a lot darker of a wine also, because it had so much sugar. It didn't froth nearly as much, nor did it bubble anywhere near as much. It also took a longer period of time for it to start bubbling than the 5-gallon jug.

You can partially carbonate the finished product. By adding approximately 1 cup of sugar per gallon to the wine after bottling and by adding a little more yeast, you will reactivate fermentation. The yeast won't live very long because the wine is already concentrated close to its tolerance, but it should produce a bit more alcohol and carbon dioxide. However, instead of releasing the CO2, keep it tightly bottled in. I would recommend doing this in the glass jars as they are stronger. Check it every day for a few days. You should see some bubbles, but not many. When the bubbles stop, open the lid and you should have slightly carbonated wine.

If you choose to make grape wine, you don't need to add any extra sugar to ferment the juice. Grapes have a high enough concentration of sugar naturally, which is why they are a usual choice for wine. By replacing the apple juice with all-natural grape juice (no preservatives again), you will make standard wine.

For a cheaper method of brewing the wine, you can just do everything in the jug that the cider comes in. Pour out approximately one 8-oz glass per gallon of the cider first to make room for the extra ingredients. Follow the directions, making substitutions as necessary.

Instead of the air lock system that we made, you can use a balloon. Make sure the balloon is large enough to hold a fair amount of carbon dioxide. For smaller quantities of wine, this might be an easier method, but if the balloon breaks or slides off, the air lock is ruined. The wine will still ferment, but contaminants can get into it. The air lock system we devised is more reliable, but is also more of a hassle. One nice thing about the balloon method is that the balloon will inflate with carbon dioxide, and when the wine is done, the balloon will deflate. This provides a convenient method of checking the wine's status.

Activated baking yeast that you can buy at any major grocery store can be substituted for the Cider Yeast. It is approximately 50-60 cents with tax for a two pack of the yeast. One pack of the yeast is enough for a full 4-gallon batch, but adding both packs will speed up the process.

Step 9: Final Notes

A word of caution: Wine is typically between 10% and 15% alcohol by volume (20-30 proof). However, don't let the low numbers fool you. One glass of wine has approximately as much alcohol as a 12-oz can of beer or one shot of liquor. I recommend exercising caution when drinking home brewed wine until you know how strongly it affects you. From what we've seen of the people who drink our wine, it takes a decidedly smaller amount of the wine to become intoxicated than you'd expect. Even a normal sized glass of the wine can affect you very quickly because of the alcohol concentration.

I'll leave you with a couple interesting facts about the project and brewing in general:

Alcohol is actually a waste product of the yeast. As yeast breaks down the sugar, it releases alcohol and carbon dioxide.

The type of yeast you use will determine the amount of alcohol by volume you'll be able to achieve because the alcohol will actually kill the yeast. Some yeasts are more tolerant to alcohol and will produce stronger wine, but the max you'll be able to achieve just by brewing is somewhere around 15-17%. To get anything stronger than the 15-17%, you will have to distill your wine. Home brewing is legal nearly everywhere (as long as you are the appropriate age to consume alcohol), but distilling is not always legal, so check your local laws before trying to distill the wine. And of course, don't provide alcohol to anyone below the legal drinking age.

I'm sure I'll get a question about this if I don't mention it. The carbon dioxide being released is in negligible quantities and will not build up to toxic levels as long as you have a reasonably ventilated space and you're not producing hundreds of gallons of wine at a time. Also, carbon dioxide is almost entirely inert (to the best of my knowledge. I'm an engineer, not a chemist), so there is very little fire risk if you want to put the brewing wine in the same space as a gas furnace or gas water heater.

Enjoy your wine! Feel free to experiment with the recipe to suit your tastes and leave comments of recipe suggestions.



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    22 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    hey nice ible
    ok i have a question
    i used fresh fruit and first what i did was boiled the water and got it to room temperature then i added the sugar afterthat did i put the fruit pulp
    then i added the yeast
    it does not bubble at all
    what should i doo?

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    oh yeah 1 more thing
    after a while the fruit floats to the top and the liquid is in the bottom
    please reply fast


    9 years ago on Introduction

    of all instructables, yours make a lot of sense to a simpleton like me!! straight and easy way of tellin...
      i'll be tryin with grape juice i made on my own from fresh grapes!!
    thanks a lot!!


    9 years ago on Step 3

    That's not an air-lock. It'll certainly reduce the amount of air that gets in, but a proper air-lock that you can fill with water or alcohol costs about $3 If you want to keep it as cheap as possible, a balloon with some pin-holes in it is the traditional ghetto method. It'll be cheaper than your rubber bung and pipe, it'll work better, and it'll also allow you to see if it's fermenting (the balloon will stand up)


    9 years ago on Step 2

    You're not properly sanitizing that bottle at all. it might work if you poured a lot of vodka in straight and swished it around without adding water, but it's way too expensive to use that way. You can get a 1/2 lb package of Potassium metabisulphate for a few bucks. It can be used to sanitize your bottles/equipment, and is also the same chemical used to prevent competition to your yeast during fermenting, and as an antioxidant to allow the wine to age better after you bottle it. The couple shots of vodka in 1/3 bottle of water works out to about 0.5%ABV. That's insignificant. You could just drink the shots instead, and your odds of spoilage won't get any worse.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I made wine out of a bunch of peaches, regular fleischmann's yeast, sugar, water in a 5-gallon pail. It turned out o.k., but the flavor sure could've been improved. LOL


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Looks good! A friend of mine tried making wine with grapes, and it was horrible, so if yours tastes ok, then well done! Here in the UK, of course, cider is already alcoholic. I assume ordinary apple juice would do the same job? (Assuming it is pure with no additives...) How is this wine different from English cider? I assume it must be, but I am not sure how, since you use 'cider yeast'... Does it taste like normal wine, or is it still apple-y? Also, in the US, what is the difference between cider and apple juice? Is there a difference? (Just curious!)

    7 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    juice is juice. Fermenting 1 time produces the booze; Ferment it again, & you have Vinegar. So, apple cider vinegar is apples that has been fermented twice. This is what I read in a book;.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Apple juice should still work for the fermentation, but might require a bit more sugar, or maybe less depending on the brand of juice. Some brands of juice use a little bit of actual juice, a lot of water and a lot of sugar or other sweetener. Those brands will produce a very different wine, if they will even ferment into what can be considered wine. I think it's Welch's juice that claims to be 100% juice. I'm not sure if they make apple juice or not, but if they do, it should produce similar results. The most important quality is that it can't have preservatives because that will kill the yeast. I've never had English cider, so I'm not sure exactly how it differs from this wine. The cider yeast is used to produce a more earthy flavored wine, kind of like smelling fresh soil after a warm summer rain is the best way I could describe it. It still definitely tastes like apple, but has the distinct earthy alcohol flavor as well. It provides an interesting taste combination and is still smooth like normal wine though. Cider here is usually a fresher form of apple juice, possibly made just by pressing fresh apples if you are close enough to a grove. It's also usually more pure than apple juice too, specifically, less (or not at all) watered down. Again, I'm not entirely sure how it differs from English cider because I've never had English cider. From the way you describe it, we'd probably call it hard cider because it has the alcohol. I know that lemonade follows the same convention (for example, Mike's Hard Lemonade).


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Great instructable! Thanks for taking the time. I've read instructions on making wine before and have always been hesitant of how much work it seemed - but your instructions make it pretty straight forward. To filter, I assume you are using paper coffee filters? Is there a reason you arent just including that as a firm step rather than just a recommendation - it sounds like the most sensible way to avoid dead yeast in your product. Does it lose anything else by straining? Do you know/think commercial wineries strain their product? Also, as an alternative to pouring/straining and dealing with foam and dead yeast - what do you think of this idea: using a hand pump syphon (probably could get one at the dollar store or an automotive parts stores). Suspending it halfway down the bottle will avoid both the foam and the yeast sediment at the bottom. Just a thought What types of wine have you tried making - and what has yielded the best results?


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    I'm glad you like it and found it informative. Thanks for taking the time to read.

    Yes, we just used standard paper coffee filters that we bought at our local dollar store. There reason I didn't include it as an actual step is because you really don't have to do it. Yes, it make the wine a better quality, but also takes an extra hour or two to filter all the alcohol. It really depends on the quality you're attempting to achieve. You lose a very negligible amount of the wine that soaks into the filters, but other than that, you shouldn't lose anything by filtering. I'm not sure how commercial wineries make their products. If I had to guess, I'd say they do filter it at some point because losing a large percentage of the initial product from every batch is very wasteful and is bad for profits.

    The hand pump idea is something we thought about after we had finished this, but even with the hand pump, you're still going to end up stirring up some of the yeast as you pull the wine out, so you're still going to have to filter it. You'd probably use less filters from the wine being a bit cleaner to start with, but it would probably also take more time than just pouring. Since coffee filters are dirt cheap, better to use a few extra of them than to spend more time. Also, there shouldn't be any foam when you pour. All the foam should have long since gone away when you start bottling.

    The apple wine has been the only wine we've made so far. However, my roommate did make some blackberry mead a little over a month ago. The mead takes a few more weeks than the wine to actually finish, so we haven't gotten to try it yet. However, it should be ready just about in time for our graduation party. Lol. If it turns out well, I'll post an extra step with how to make the blackberry mead since the process is almost identical.

    As a followup to this, the blackberry mead didn't turn out well. The flavor didn't turn out like we hoped, so we probably did something wrong when we tried to make it. Since my roommate and I have both graduated now and are living a few states away, I doubt there will be much update to that process any time soon.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for replying. I read a few more instrucatables on the topic and others have said you need three other chemicals to make this. Any idea on what the difference is with or without these?


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Just writing separately with a little more on the difference between UK and US cider, and US apple cider and apple juice. BrainiacVince was quite correct: there's no legal difference between "apple cider" and "apple juice" in the US. "Apple cider" tends to be less sweet and less finely filtered, whereas "apple juice" is very sweet and clear, but these distinctions aren't defined or enforced by law. "Hard cider" is also available, which is roughly equivalent to English cider, although markedly weaker--4-5% alcohol by volume is typical, whereas I understand the English product can range up to 8.5% (a very stiff tipple by the standards of many Americans, but I wouldn't mind trying a bottle). There's also "applejack," a freeze-distilled hard cider that can contain as much as 30-40% abv and, as I understand, have effects similar to those I've heard are experienced by consumers of rough scrumpy (viz. waking up dressed as a schoolgirl in a ditch three towns away from where you started drinking).

    In any event, "cider" or "apple cider" without further qualification will always refer to the non-alcoholic product around here unless the context makes it very clear that the drink is alcoholic. "Hard cider" is the term to use otherwise. As for brands, Wyder's is widely available, but I like Woodchuck better, and it's not much harder to find. Naturally, if there's a local brand, I'd advise going for that--that's the way to go for getting good beer here in the States as well.


    9 years ago on Step 9

    could you use Fruit punch or something instead of grape juice or apple juice?


    10 years ago on Introduction

    To clarify the definitions- if the drink is labeled "juice" it must be 100% juice, fresh or made from concentrate. It can not have any added water or sugar. If it is made with juice but has other things added, it is a "juice drink". The American version of cider is apple juice that is not processed- no filtration (except maybe straining out the chunks and grit). Commercial cider must, by law, be pasteurized, which kills bacteria, and, probably, the yeast that causes fermentation. Fresh, unpasteurized cider may be sold by orchards, but it must have a warning saying it is not pasteurized. Apple juice is cider that has been extensively filtered and clarified to remove the suspended solids that give the cider its cloudy colour and sharp flavour. It is still 100% apple juice. Hope that helps. I'm currently processing about 500 pounds of apples using a 150-year-old hand-cranked cider mill.

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for the clarification. I didn't know there were standards on the naming conventions, but it doesn't surprise me with how strict the FDA usually is.

    Matt D655

    10 years ago on Introduction

    yo braniacvince- my dad told me if u leave a gallon of apple cyder in the basement fir a long time it will ferment,is that true?

    1 reply
    BrainiacVinceMatt D655

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    if you take a store-bought gallon, don't open it, and leave it, I doubt it will ferment. It would eventually spoil from bacteria getting/being in it, but as far as I know, those bacteria do not release alcohol. You would need to add yeast or the cider would need yeast in it already. You'd also have to add some sugar to get a noticeable amount of alcohol. The yeast requires a lot of sugar to digest to produce the alcohol, typically more than a store-bought gallon of apple cider has.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    I homebrew my own beer (very similar to brewing wine), and sanitation (sterilization) is the most important part, you don't want to skimp on this part. Take your time and do it thoroughly or you may end up with "off tastes" or even worse you could end up with a batch full of mold. make sure to sanitize EVERYTHING that will come into contact with your wine-making (spoons, pots, pans, hoses, carboy, bottles, hands, etc.) A good place to find economical, easy to use sanitizer (as well as almost everything else you could ever need for brewing beer/wine) is:

    I prefer the "One Step"