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.

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

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)

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:
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!

Step 1: Preperation

Before we begin, there's a little something you should know.

Let's talk about sterilization.
Seriously, this is the hardest part of the entire process. You're going to need to sanitize everything that will touch the wine, this includes your hands. The easiest way to do this is to get a small bucket, say about 2 litres (1 gallon) and add a small amount of pink sanitizer and fill the bucket with cold water. Read the exact amounts on the package, a little goes a long way.
I usually use a flattened spoonful for 2 litres, it'll dissolve clear. Fire in a cloth and you're golden!
Use the cloth to wipe down your primary fermenter, lid, and spoon. Rinse well.

The mystery of Specific Gravity (SG).
This is the term used to determine the alcohol content of your creation, personally I don't subscribe to this. After years of making wine I can count the amount of failures I've had on one hand, and I'm sure all of them were from either bizarre experimentation on my part or unsanitary conditions that I introduced, possibly both.
The measurements you get from the specific gravity of the wine from pre-fermentation to post-fermentation will give you an idea of your wine alcohol content (and more importantly if you wine has even fermented!) however, as you will see if you use the kit method and keep your fingers clean then these is no need for using specific gravity, or his cronies: the wine thief, hydrometer, and the test cylinder.

Step 2: Add That Juice

So you read over the preamble, and figure you're ready. Well then crack open that box and let's get started.


Kit Method:
Grab your package of bentonite and empty into sterilized primary bucket. Add about 4 litres (1 gallon) of water to primary and dissolve that bentonite by stirring. Then add contents of the juice/concentrate bladder into the primary fermenter, fill entire emptied bag with water and shake to get all the residue, and dump into primary.
Open the pack of oak chips or berries (depending to type of wine) and add them now too.

Homebrew method:
If you're making your own wine the mixture of fruit juice or real fruit to water is going to be a tricky one. So trial and error is going to be your best bet here. Personal preference will take the drivers seat here. Something to keep in mind though is that your mixture now will taste nothing like the finished product.

Step 3: Yeast. You'll Love These Little Guys!

DAY 1 - continued

Kit Method:
Fill the remainder of the bucket up to the 23 litre (6 gallon) mark. Temperature is important here as the yeast has to be able to survive, so hot water is not such a great idea. If in doubt cold water is a better idea as it won't kill the yeast, they'll just hang out until the temperature of the mixture reaches above 25oC (75oF).
Stir stir stir.

Homebrew method:
To make things easier on the yeast, I'd recommend making a simple syrup with your sugar before adding it to the mixture (1:1 ratio of sugar and water), again sugar amount is personal preference for sweetness, but too little sugar will not give the yeast anything to eat and you'll have a low-alcohol wine. I know what you're thinking: add loads of sugar to make crazy alcohol wine. No. This will work to a degree, but once the alcohol content gets up to around 14-16% the yeast will die, those little guys can't handle too much. So you'll end up with a bunch of sweet, 16% wine. Which some people like.

Once your wine is up to the 23 litre mark and the temperature is right add that yeast. You don't need to mix the yeast, so don't even think about stirring. Let it sit on top of that foamy pile of goodness. Cap that sucker and forget about it in the closet for a while.
(There is also such a thing as 'liquid yeast', I wouldn't recommend this as dry yeast is pretty easy to make into liquid by just adding water.)

Something to keep in mind here is temperature. If the wine is too cold it will stop fermentation, too warm and the yeast get all excited and die. Neither of which produces happy wine. So make sure your closet is somewhere not too cold, and elevate that primary fermenter off the ground.

Congratulations! You've just completed the most laborious stage of making wine.

Step 4: Time to Check Up on Your Creation!


Here's where you open that lid and peer in. If you see bubbles and foam and can hear it crackle and hiss like a fresh bowl of Rice Krispies then you're in good shape.
If you don't hear this sound then something is wrong. Very wrong.

Kit Method:
Really, if you followed my directions you shouldn't even be reading this. The problems of wine not fermenting are typically sterilization issues (you dirty boy!) or temperature. Even if you're equipment wasn't 100% sterile you should still get some reaction.
Solution: Try moving your wine to another warmer room.

Homebrew Method:
There are probably 4598731 reasons why your wine didn't work: Temperature, sterilization, pH, sugar content, bugs or rotten fruit, moon in the seventh house, Jupiter aligns with Mars, take your pick.
Solution: Same as above, but really after 5 days I'd say try your hand at making a kit wine a few times to see how it's done then come back to this method.

Step 5: Racking

DAY 14

Time for more sanitizer!
You'll learn to love and hate this stuff, especially when your fingers get all pruny, angry, and slippery.
Using the bucket cloth method sanitize: Carboy (secondary fermenter), siphon hose (suck some solution through the hose as well), and stirring device.

Grab your primary bucket and place on the counter top, place your sterilized secondary on the floor. Using the hose, siphon the contents from the primary to the secondary. If you can help it don't let the hose touch the bottom of the primary fermenter, you'll drudge up all the sediment so try to keep it elevated about 1 inch from the bottom of the primary. Once you've siphoned all the goodness into the secondary, place your hose back in the primary bucket and put aside to clean later.

Step 6: Adding More Chems

DAY 14 - continued

Kit Method:
It's time to add all the other packages that came with your kit. But be careful, there's an order here that we need to observe.
-Start by adding the Sulphite, stir it in.
-Next add the Potassium Sorbate. Stir again.
-Now it's time for more stirring. Stir like your life depends on it. You are both mixing in the Suphite and Potassium Sorbate and degassing the mixture. Stir for around 5 minutes, and don't be shy about really mixing it around. Just like you wine sometimes has a hard time passing gas in front of strangers. Insufficient stirring will prevent the wine from clearing.
- Add the kieselsol and still for about a minute to dissolve.
-Now add Chitosan, stir again.
-Degas for another 5 minutes.

Homebrew Method:
This is a bit trickier as there is no formula which will work for every wine. Some wines take a little longer to reach this stage, especially if you are using 100% juice. So take notes and see if this step is applicable to you.

Step 7: Topping It Up

DAY 14 - continued

Your secondary is probably a bit low, seeing as you've left about an inch or so in the primary (remember? it's the stuff with the cloudy sediment. You did leave that behind, right?), well simply sanitize a pitcher or jug or other receptacle for water and top off your secondary to about 2 inches from the top.

Now sanitize your airlock and bung and fill the airlock about halfway with your sanitizing solution, reassemble the airlock and place on top of the secondary (or simply rip a sheet of cling film and stretch over the top).

Clean the carboy if needed, I was a little sloppy with mine. I really don't like waiting for the foam to dissipate so I overflow and just clean later. Conduct yourself accordingly. Fire that bad boy back in the closet for another 2 weeks to settle.

Step 8: Bottling

DAY 28

So you've taken your secondary fermenter (carboy) out of the closet and back onto your counter top. If your carboy is glass you should be able to see the sediment that's fallen to the bottom, and the remainder of the wine is now pretty clear. The most common complaint I hear from people is "homemade wine is cloudy", this is usually followed by a wine snob saying something about "homemade wines have too much sulphite". Wrong. So wrong.
ALL wine has sulphites, it's part of the clearing process. If you are opting to omit the suphite, sorbate, bentonite, or any of the other guys you are asking for cloudy and unhappy wine. Sediment in the bottom of the carboy is a great sign, it means that the chemical bonding of the particles has occoured and your wine will be clear and tasty!

I know I said that the first step of making wine was the most labourious, and I'm not lying. Honest! But if you choose to bottle your wine into 750 ml bottles then you may call me a liar.
That's why all my wine is consumed from 2 litre bottles and sometimes from wine bags!

Regardless of how you choose to bottle your wine the process is identical.
Sanitize your siphon hose, and your bottles. Once you've sanitized everything keep your sanitizing solution around to dump your corks into.

Just like before when you racked your wine from the primary to the secondary, keep the siphon hose from touching the bottom of the carboy as you'll suck up sediment which will turn everyone off drinking the bottle that it ends up in. The easiest way to accomplish bottling is to keep the end of the hose about 5 inches off the bottom and stuff a rag in the neck of the bottle to prevent the hose from creeping down. If you have a second pair of hands they can just hold the hose for you. As you get close to emptying the secondary slowly move the hose closer to the bottom, tipping the carboy to one side helps here.

I'm not going to sugar coat it. Learning to siphon while not touching the bottom of the carboy alone is an art in itself and worthy of an instructable. However difficult it is not impossible, so don't give up.

Bottle, bottle, bottle. Then when you've finished cork, cork, cork. Leave the wine upright for a day to let the corks settle and expand back into place. After a day you should lie them on their side to maximize the airspace in the bottle which helps in aging the wine.
Keep wine out of direct sunlight and from extreme cold and heat. While homemade wine is suitable to drink (albeit very young tasting) in about a week you'll notice marked improvement in taste in a month, and even more after about 6 months.

Step 9: Final Thoughts

I know it's tempting, but try to keep about half your batch aside. Hide it in your closet or in the attic for around 6 months. The remainder I'd recommend experimenting with opening them to see when it tastes right to you. There is little point in aging the wine past 2 years, most wine that you will make will reach maturity in under a year. Besides, you made it to drink right?

So there you have it. Wine made in about a month, in your very own closet! Make sure to post your results, I'd love to hear of any variations or other tips that I forgot.

Happy brewing!



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    37 Discussions


    2 years ago

    hi, do I really need an airlock? can I just use a "clear airtight glass jar with metal clip" ?
    I'd really like to try this out..

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    Airlocks are a great method to release gas without letting air in. If sterilized correctly you reduce the risk of contaminates dramatically. You can easily use any alternative you can think of, but your risk goes up.


    2 years ago

    This will be the second time I have attempted wine. The first time I ended up with very good vinegar. I am using my own grapes, but I used my juicer to juice them. I poured the pulp back into the juice, the only thing not in there is the skins. Can I proceed with the kit directions or do I need to follow the home brew directions. I did keep the skins, they are frozen. Should I just add them in too?

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    Before proceeding with fermenting invest in a pH balancing kit for home brewing, it will correct the acidity and provide a balanced base for you to ferment with.

    The skins are a source of tannin (bitterness) and can help with colour, both are desirable in winemaking. You can keep and add the skins if your recipe calls for it, but invest in the pH balancing kit first.


    4 years ago

    Do I need to sanitize the corks ? Amy direction for the corks just states to soak them in water for 5 minutes.

    2 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I soak the corks in the same sanitizing solution I use to clean the siphon hose. The chlorinated sanitizer is actually food safe, so you'll be fine with a diluted mixture to soak your cork in.

    After soaking the corks (and washing my hands with the same sanitizer) I dry the corks by flicking them dry then corking the bottles.

    Good luck!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Hi, I am have made several wine kits so far and have been very impressed with the ourcome, but I would like to add some additional flavours, Every womons question - can I add chocolate and blackberries or liquroice, these are all flavours I love but dont know how I could go about add these. Any suggestios would be lovely. ta


    4 years ago

    Thank. I'm made it.


    5 years 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.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    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?

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    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?


    8 years ago on Introduction

    i have a question
    which yeast do u use
    in the local store they have active dry yeast
    will that do?
    also nice instructable

    4 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction


    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!


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    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


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    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!


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    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...


    10 years ago on Introduction

    "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.

    2 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    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'