How To Make Wine At Home
Have you ever wanted to make homemade wine? Here’s how.
In theory, making wine is very simple. Yeast meets grape juice in an environment that allows fermentation. Just nature being nature. No doubt wine was first discovered by happy accident thousands of years ago: Natural yeasts, blowing in the wind, settled down upon a bunch of squashed grapes, whose juice was pooling in the shaded bowl of a rock; soon after, some lucky passerby stops and stoops down for a taste…and likes what she’s discovered.
From there, the process of winemaking will be refined, as you can imagine, and the environment carefully controlled, to the point where winemaking becomes both science and art.
And DIY home winemaking? Well, it probably falls somewhere between the curious stone-age wanderer and the modern vintner who applies artful science to the process. Let’s take a look.
Stage 4 Closed Fermentation
Left in a cool, dark place, your cloudy, sweet liquid will gradually turn into a clear, alcoholic one: a fantastically pleasing sight, accompanied by the hiccupping sound from the airlock that lets you know the yeast is still working.
Over the next few months, exhausted yeast cells will sink to the bottom of your demijohn, forming a deposit known as “lees”. These dead yeast cells are digested by their own enzymes and their “guts” get released into the liquid, generating flavour. However, if you leave this sediment too long it will start to decompose and release unpleasant flavours. To avoid this, transfer the wine to a new demijohn when there is 1-2 inches of sediment at the bottom. This is called racking. You might need to repeat this several times, but ensure that you always carefully minimise contact with oxygen. Top up with clean water after each racking.
After about nine months the fermentation should finish, the bubbling should come to an end, and the wine should be clear. You can check the yeast has finished producing alcohol by moving the demijohn to a warm place for a few days to see if that wakes it up.
When The Wine Is Finished
Please drink responsibly, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
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How To Make Fruit Wines + Strawberry Wine Recipe
My husband and father are beer home brewers. Ive watched them devote entire Saturdays to the process of brewing beer. While I loved drinking the results, I was never interested in devoting all that time to brewing beer.
For years, I just assumed that making wine required the same amount of investment in time and equipment as beer brewing. But turns outit doesnt! You can make a batch of strawberry wine with less than 15 minutes of hands-on time. And you can be sipping it on your front porch just a few weeks later. Making fruit wines is now one of my favorite hobbies, and Im so excited to share it with you!
Today, Im going to share with you a recipe for a classic Homemade Strawberry Wine, plus walk you through the entire process for making fruit wine. You can apply these same tools and processes to almost any fruit out there, so once youve nailed down Strawberry Wine , you can let your imaginationand whats in seasoninspire your next batch.
Closing Thoughts On Making Wine
Hopefully this has given you some idea on how to make wine from grapes at home easily. Dont let the wall of text scare you though, the process is very simple- anyone can do it! If youd prefer to make wine using a pre-made kit, wed suggest checking out our guide on some of the best wine making kits that are available online.
We wish you all the best in your wine making adventures.
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Read Me: An Important Winemaking Caveat
Like most things in life, the craft of home winemaking falls on a wide spectrum. On one end, you have the folks who love to dive all inthey spend hundreds of dollars on special tools, they sanitize everything using synthetic chemicals, they take scientific records, they use very specific winemaking additives. On the other hand, there is what I like to call heritage winemakers. These people use barely nothing more than a clean canning jar, fruit, water, and some sugarafter all, thats the way folks have been making wine for generations. And then there are all of us who fall somewhere in between on the spectrum.
The Science And Magic Of Wine
a new friend is as a new wine; when it is old, thou shalt drink it with pleasure. Ecclesiasticus 9:10
I grew up on tales of my Dad’s 1970s homemade hedgerow wines. Their fruity aroma and potency were legendary. All that remains of this heady era are five very dusty bottles of “vintage” wine sitting in my father’s garage. Of what vintage, or even of what fruit these wines are made, has been long forgotten. But the bottles, and a glut of apples and blackberries, inspired me to start making my own wine. Beautiful jewel-coloured liquids and the constant plop of air locks have formed a backdrop to my living room ever since.
Many microbes are capable of obtaining energy by consuming sugars, and many liberate the alcohol ethanol as a by-product. Unfortunately for the microbes, they are also producing their very own poison. Ethanol will kill most microbes even at low concentrations. Fortunately for us, yeast is different. It can survive in up to about 20% ethanol before it is overcome, and for millennia we have made use of this ability in many fruitful ways.
The truth is that Dad’s “vintage” wines have taken the inevitable final step of fermentation: their alcohol has turned to vinegar. In fact it is vinegar, not wine, that is God’s gift to man; all we can do is hold it a little while at the wine stage.
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B: Fermenting For Red Wine
Red must doesnt need a tightly closed top or airlock during fermentation. It can ferment in a large open container with just a towel or a piece of thin plywood on top to keep dust and fruit flies out. Add wine yeast, and give it a good stir. It may begin to ferment in as little as 12 hours.
Red wines need to be stirred, or punched down, at least twice per day when fermentation is going strong. Youll see a cap of skins that floated to the top. This needs to be submerged back into the wine regularly to keep the skins wet. This allows the juice to extract the key color and flavor compounds from the skins.
Its good for red wines to warm to 80°F or more during fermentation to aid this extraction. You can check this with an old-fashioned weather thermometer.
Different Approaches To Making Wine For The Beginner
There are a couple of different approaches that you can take as a beginner winemaker. One of the easiest methods is to purchase a winemaking kit. These kits can be purchased for about $50-150 dollars and generally produce 6 gallons of wine. Thats enough wine for 30 bottles. There are also one-gallon kits available that will make 5 bottles of wine but they are less popular. These kits include the concentrated juice, yeast, and all of the additives that you need to create your wine. They come with easy to follow instructions to ensure you produce high-quality wine every time. You can find more information about specific winemaking kits on our site here.
There is nothing wrong with taking the wine kit approach. In fact, I might recommend it for the first batch of wine you make. However, there is nothing quite as satisfying as creating your own wine from fresh fruits. There is much more involved in making wine from fresh grapes or fruit. First, you need to source the fruits. For wine grapes that is not as easy as it seems. There are places online where you can purchase wine grapes and/or juice frozen and have it shipped to your house. For other types of fruit, you can get them from a local farmers market or grocery store. You need a good quality winemaking yeast, that can be purchased from your favorite wine supply store. and youll need some equipment to get started.
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Youll Always Have Enough Wine To Share
One batch from a home winemaking kit yields at least five bottles of wine. If you start making your own wine, youll always have bottles of your own creation to enjoy with family and to share with friends. Now, youll always have a unique gift to give to the host when you attend parties and other social gatherings.
How Do You Know The Alcohol Content Of The Wine
This is an arena of winemaking where I lean more toward the heritage winemakersI do not take alcohol readings on my wines. I never set a goal for how much alcohol I want my wine to haveI just like to let the wine develop into what it wants to develop into. I honestly have no idea how boozy my wines are other than to be able to take a sip and say, Yup, thats a strong one!
Many people who make wine at home take specific gravity readings using a hydrometer throughout the winemaking process to determine the fermentation levels and alcohol content. Ive done it in the past with batches, and its definitely interesting information to have, especially when you are starting out! However, my goal with learning how to make strawberry wine was to keep the process fun, simple, and light, and doing specific gravity calculations is not my brains idea of carefree.
For some data-minded folks, it can be an incredibly helpful data set to use throughout the process. If using data to track your wines fermentation and alcohol growth sounds fun to you, grab yourself a hydrometer and go on with your bad self!
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How Does It Work
You pick your wine varietal and preference- we’ve got many options, so it might be a tough decision.
We supply you with all the ingredients, walk you through the process, and then let the yeast work its magic.
Come back in 4-8 weeks for a bottling session, and take your customized wine home with you!We can also help you design custom labels to personalize your wine. Prices, for personalized labels, start as low as $40 for all 30 bottles.
Add Your Finishing Touch
This is where you influence taste profile of your finished wine and determine the shape it will take over the next several years. Working with our winemaking team, join us to create your unique blend; shape the balance, texture, and flavors you desire. Dont worry our expert team is here to guide you through the process of making your own wine.
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What Goes Up Must Come Down: Drinking And Storing Homemade Wine
After a few weeks, the yeast will eventually die off and thus stop producing carbon dioxide, causing the balloon to deflate. At that point, you’re almost done! Just take the bottle to your kitchen and decide whether you would prefer to either:
How Do I Make Sparkling Wines
Country wines and fruit wines are traditionally still wines . Making a sparkling wine is a bit of an advanced technique that requires a good knowledge of how yeast works, the fermentation process, and advanced bottling techniques. We recommend tackling it only after youve mastered a still wine like this strawberry wine. When youre ready to move onto sparkling wine, Wild Wine Making has some great information about that process.
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Preparing Supplies And Ingredients
A Primary Fermentation Container:
The size is important. I recommend it be at least 40% bigger in volume than what youd like your final amount of wine to be. Why? Because your primary fermentation will have fresh fruit in it, which well later filter out. Also: during the initial fermentation, the yeast can get quite overzealous, and youll need room for all the bubblesplus, extra room gives the yeast extra oxygen to work with! The strawberry wine recipe below is for a one gallon batch, so your primary fermentation container needs to be at least 1.4 gallons in size.
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How To Tell When The Grapes Are Ready To Make Wine
The grapes are ready to make your own wine at home when they are ripe, but not too sweet. If they taste bitter they aren’t ready yet. You can go by taste but I tend to check the sugar level by measuring the density using a hydrometer . You want the starting starting specific gravity between 1.070 and 1.100 so the grapes need to be somewhere near this. When you add the sugar the SG will increase. Mine was 1.062. Water has an SG of 1.000; the measurements are relative to this. Sugar is denser than water, alcohol is lighter. This means you can calculate the alcohol content by measuring the density at the beginning, after the addition of sugar, and at the end of fermentation. The density at the end was 0.990. There are various online calculators you can use , I calculated the alcohol content of my wine to be 9.8. I am happy with this as it tastes excellent; you can get a higher alcohol content if you want by adding more sugar.
There is a lot written on the internet about how to check when grapes are ready, all of them say something different! I would suggest reading around it and doing what feels right for you.
Wash your hands thoroughly, twice, up to your elbows before handling any of the grapes or equipment which will come into contact with them. Wash them again if you touch anything else; door handles/kettle/dog etc.
First Aid For Unclear Wine
Although it’s never happened to me, there is a slim chance that your wine won’t have cleared at the end of even three months. If that’s the case, your best cure for the problem is time. Given enough of that magic ingredient, almost any wine will eventually lose its haze .
If you feel that you can’t wait your must out, you can sometimes clear a wine by presenting it with a large surface area of something traditionally, wood for its particles of haze to settle on. Try boiling some oak chips for a few minutes, draining them, and then putting a couple of tablespoons of the shavings into one of the gallon jugs. The chips of oak should help clear the wine, mellow it, darken the must and give it character, and add a distinctive oak flavor to the brew. Although the addition of the shavings should speed the wine’s clearing, it will still take time for the haze to settle. So taste the wine every few weeks to see if the oak taste is becoming too strong.
Beechwood shavings or chips which won’t add any taste to your must can also be used to clear a stubborn batch of wine. Again, add a couple of tablespoons per gallon and leave them in until the wine clears … or you give up.
None of the methods I’ve outlined here are foolproof and you’ll find that some wines simply will not clear unless they’re filtered. To heck with filtering. Just drink the wine as it is. The haze won’t affect its taste in any way … just its visual appeal.
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