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Home made wine is easy to make from fresh fruit if you follow a few simple steps! Naturally, we're here to help you along your way with this handy guide. Joe (known as TerpsichoreanKid on YouTube) has been making wine for years, and has owned BIY Homebrew Supply since the beginning--and has helped MANY people make awesome wine the easy way! We're going to give you the crash course for free here, so if you have heard other tips or techniques from other wine makers, feel free to do your own research and determine which methods and products are best for your batch. We like to keep things simple and let the fruit do the work--so if that sounds good to you, read on!
To make wine at home, you'll need a few tools and some basic chemicals:
- A wine making equipment kit is what we recommend as it will have everything you need right from the start. If you want the bare minimum, you'll need:
- Fermenting bucket with a lid (or something that serves as another 'primary' fermenter). We recommend using one that's a few gallons bigger than your batch size.
- A glass carboy or a plastic carboy that matches the batch size volume you're making (so if you want a 5 gallon batch, get a 5 gallon carboy)
- A bung that fits your glass or plastic carboy
- An airlock or two
- Auto-siphon, siphon hose, and a bottle filler
- A Thief
- A Spoon
- A corker and the right size corks (we recommend #8 corks for all hand corkers, and #9 for bench corkers)
- Bottles (a 6 gallon batch of wine makes about 30 750ml bottles)
- Sanitizer (for winemaking, we recommend a sulphite sanitizer)
- A nylon bag to hold your fruit chunks/pulp
- And for your wine ingredients, you'll need:
- LOTS of fruit from your garden (pitted, de-seeded, etc.)!
- There is no exact amount of fruit required, but we recommend the most fruit/juice you can get. More fruit equals more flavor, so the more fruit, the better! A good rule of thumb is that many fruits will require about 15-20lbs of fruit per gallon of pure juice.
- You can harvest fruit, remove pits and seeds, then freeze the fruit for later use if you like. This also helps soften and break up the fruit, making it easier to press!
- Sugar (to increase alcohol content if needed)
- Sulphite (such as campden tablets or pure sulphite like you have for your equipment sanitizer)
- Yeast Nutrient
- Wine Yeast (Joe put together a cheat sheet you can find by clicking here that will help you pick the right yeast for your batch!)
- Pectic Enzyme
- Acid Blend
- Potassium Sorbate
- Wine Tannin (to balance low tannin wines and aid in clarification)
- Clarifier/Fining Agents
WHEW! I know that seems like an awful lot of stuff, but every little bit of that will help make sure your wine is delicious and properly made. By doing it the right way the first time, you'll help ensure you get a good finished wine rather than 6 gallons of vinegar!
Now that you have got all your equipment and ingredients ready to go, the rest is pretty easy. It just takes a little time!
- If you haven't already, wash all the fruit and remove pits, seeds, stems, etc. While doing that, mash up the fruit, or chop it up really well. Throw it in a nylon bag if you picked one up. If not, just throw it in the bucket! A fruit press can come in handy at this stage.
- Add the fruit to your clean fermenting bucket/primary fermenter and give it a good mix and another good mashing (trying to get as much juice out of the pulp as you can). If you are aiming for a 5 gallon batch of wine, but only have 4 gallons of fruit and juice, you can go ahead and add water to get to the 5 gallon line on your fermenter. Give it a good mix.
- Take a hydrometer reading to see how much sugar content is in your juice. Most fruit wines should read about 10-20 brix (or 1.040 - 1.080 specific gravity). More sugar typically equates to more alcohol, so if you want a 10% ABV wine, add enough sugar to hit 18 brix or 1.080 specific gravity.
- Now add your sulphite to kill wild yeast or bacteria. You will want to add 1/4tsp per 6 gallons of must of pure sulphite, or 1 crushed campden tablet per gallon of must.
- Cover the fermenter with a cloth, and allow the sulphite to work for 24 hours.
- After 24 hours have passed, you will add the remaining ingredients according to the bottle's instructions. Add your acid blend to increase acidity (only if you want to), wine tannin powder (only if you want to), and then your pectic enzyme. Wait one hour, then add your yeast nutrient (volume needed according to the bottle) and your yeast (one packet will do 5-6 gallons). Give everything a good stir, then attach your lid and airlock. Fill the airlock to the line with water so that the CO2 made during fermentation can escape your bucket.
- Every day for the next week, open the fermenter and using a clean and sanitized spoon, press down the fruit if it rises to the top, and gently stir the fermenting must. After 5-7 days, remove the fruit and give it a good squeeze to extract any remaining juice. Replace your lid and airlock and allow to sit for another 2-3 days.
- After this time, clean and sanitize your carboy, siphon and hose, and gently transfer the wine from the primary bucket to the carboy--being careful to not disturb the thick sediment on the bottom of the primary fermenter. Attach the bung and airlock, and allow the wine to sit in the carboy for about two weeks.
- At this time, it will be time to move the wine again, as there will have been more sediment that dropped out. Clean and sanitize all buckets, carboys, and siphon equipment you will need and get it transferred. If you have another carboy, just siphon to the other carboy. If you don't, you can siphon it back into the bucket, then clean and sanitize your carboy, then siphon it back into the carboy again. You want to use a carboy for all this because you want to minimize the oxygen space in the vessel--excess oxygen will oxidize your wine!
- At this second racking, you will add another addition of sulphite (campden or pure sulphite) appropriate to your batch size, as well as an addition of potassium sorbate (follow the instructions on the bottle to determine how much you need to use). Gently blend this into the wine, then attach the bung and airlock and allow it to sit now for several months.
- After several months, we recommend siphoning it again to get it off any sediment that may have accumulated during the first couple months. Be sure to clean and sanitize any equipment that is going to touch your wine. It is at this point you would add any clarifiers or fining agents if the wine is still murky or cloudy. Lots of folks also add another small addition of sulphite to help ensure oxidation does not occur.
- Most fruit wines will be ready to bottle in about 6 months, but you can let it sit in your carboy for as long as you like, as long as there is water in the airlock. We recommend letting wines sit in the carboy for 6-9 months, then sweetening (if needed) and then bottling.
- Now the hard part... Giving it a try! Pop open a bottle and enjoy the FRUITS of your labor! Ha-ha!
Making wine is very easy to do, it just takes a little time and a little research. Our guide here is a crash course in wine making, and we carry many awesome books that get into the nitty-gritty if you're looking to become the next big wine maker. Our recommendations will get you going down the right path and are the same instructions we give all our new wine makers. From here--it is up to you! Go as far with the hobby as you like, and always have fun and enjoy great wine.