Wine making doesn't only have to be for hoity-toity connoisseurs - it can be a fun, cheap, easy project that even has educational value. Better still, once you understand the process that goes into making cheap wine; you can also tackle a special, expedited shortcut method. Read on below for more info.
Step 1: Equipment1. Plastic Water Bottle or Glass Jug aka- the container
You can find these at any grocery store pretty much. Make sure you look at the bottom and see either 1 or 2 for the recycling. If it is anything else, it will not work.
The reason behind this is that you will be doing long-term fermentation/aging in this bottle. Using one that is not 1 or 2 will allow oxygen to seep in at the microscopic level. This can cause the wine to become oxidized and have a "stale" taste to it. Also, with #7 plastics, you do not know what it is made of. Therefore, you may have chemicals leech into your wine.
Using glass jugs can be substituted as well. Make sure the jug is NOT scratched on the inside
Variable cost, no more than $20 or free if you have clean, unscratched plastic jug.2. Rubber Stopper
Typically #8-9 will work, though if you can, test fit it to your just before buying. Only needed if you use the tubing or the commercial airlock. Drill a 1/4 hole in it.
This can be a few things
a. A balloon- The CO2 the yeast release will inflate it and cause it to expand. When the balloon expands to a certain point, the CO2 will begin to escape but not allow any air in(Pressure inside is great than that on the outside). Use rubber bands to keep it attached to the neck of the container
b. pvc pipe + vinyl tubing- pvc goes through the rubber stopper and attach the vinyl tubing to it.
c. Commercial Airlock - cost usually around a $1.59. these three piece airlocks have alcohol or some sanitized liquid put in to keep the center pipe submerged. Highly recommended.
You'll need to throughly mix the solution. A long, plastic handle works great. Must fit into the neck of the bottle. If you cannot find one, a dowel with a spoon attached to it will work though you must dispose of after use (the wood tends to house baddies)
For pouring liquid into the container
$.796. Turkey Baster
You'll need it for sampling after the fermentation finishes.7. Bottles
You will need something airtight to store the finished product in. 2L and jugs work best. Make sure you can securely tighten the top and clean them.
Free hopefully. (What did you pour the juice from?)8.The siphon
A 5-6' vinyl tubing. You will need to siphon the liquid from the container, ideally leaving out the yeast. If you have a homebrew store nearby, it's advisable to just buy a autosiphon .
$6 for the tubing or $9 for the autosiphon (trust me. you'll want it).9. Sanitizer
The most important equipment here. Get lots of it. You'll use it...alot. It even has it's own step.
This is commonly cheap bleach, but you will need to use LOTS of water to rinse afterwords. Otherwise, you'll be left chemical smell. I do not recommend it, but it'll work in a pinch.
You can also use any Iodine Sanitizing solution instead. It can be found at some grocery stores and just about any feed store for very cheap.
Ideally, getting B-T-F iodophor or Star-San 5 Star is the best choice. Follow the directions for mixing. They require no rinse if I remember correctly and the foam from Star San actually helps the yeast!
You can get these at your local homebrew store or restaurant supply for a small amount.
Iodine and bleach are pretty cheap, but Star-San and Iodophor are the right tool for the job when it comes to home brewing.
Step 2: Ingredients
- The following quantities will make a gallon of wine:
cans of juice concentrate at room temperature; you can use any type of
concentrate (grape, strawberry, etc.) as long as it doesn't contain any
preservatives, which will inhibit fermentation; you might also want to
avoid artificial coloring and flavoring since higher quality ingredients
will produce tastier results
- 2 cups of sugar
packet of champagne yeast (more will not increase alcohol content but
will impart a bad "yeasty" flavor); if you use bread yeast, it will
taste like dirty socks, so be sure you use only champagne yeast
gallon (3.8 L) of water; reverse-osmosis water, which can be purchased
at the store in a gallon jug, is preferable but unnecessary.
Step 3: Sanitation
Sanitation is the most important step. If not done thoroughly and
properly, your "wine" will just turn out to be a giant jug of vinegar
and be hardly palatable at all! You can tell if this occurred by the
stench of vinegar.
You are making a batch of basically acidic sugar water that any mold or
bacteria would love to set up shop in. Even though you cannot see them,
those spoilers are lying all over your equipment, in every microscopic
cranny and nook. Before making wine or any fermented beverage, you need
to get rid of them.
Using your chosen sanitizer, make sure your container, stirrer, funnel,
air lock parts, measuring spoons and work area are sanitized. You will
need to have a contact time(being wet) of usually 30 seconds. Also make
sure your hands are cleaned before beginning or at any step of dealing
with the wine.
If you are using bleach, you will need to follow with a rinse to get any
standing solution off, which means you need clean water. I suggest
distilled water, but I also suggest not using bleach.
Why not sterilize?
Sterilize means to kill all life off a surface. Nothing survives.
Sanitation means to reduce the amount of bacteria, wild yeasts, etc. to
negligible levels. You will be hard pressed to sterilize unless you can
fit all of your equipment into a boiling pot or can autoclave it.
Yeast do not need a sterilized surface. Just one that is sanitized so they set up shop and crowd out any invaders.
Step 4: Getting Setup
For five gallons, you will need:
5 gallons of apple juice/cider
2 pounds Sugar(corn is recommended)
1 Yeast packet(from 1-10 gallons)
1 Table Spoon of yeast nutrient
100 mL/ 3.38 fluid oz. solution of 2.5% Potassium/Sodium Metabisulfite(if needed)
Note:The sulfite is not required at this point if the apple juice/cider has been pasteurized. You may need to use it later.
Recipes for other wines exists. I'm just using this recipe as an example for the process to follow.
Making the Sulfite Solution(if needed)
Take 1/2 teaspoon of your Sulfite and mix it into 125 mL/4.25 fluid
ounces. Take 100mL /3 1/3 oz and discard the remaining amount.
If you want to make smaller or bigger batches, scale accordingly @ ~20mL a gallon.
For those chemistry nerds, you're aiming for 50ppm in the container.
Step 5: Pouring the Juice
Depending on how many bottles, you may need to combine steps 1&2:
1. Pour half of a bottle of apple juice/cider into the container then
put one pound of sugar into bottle and shake it to dissolve the sugar
into it. Pour another half of a bottle of apple juice/cider in.
2. Repeat again with your other pound of sugar.
3. Pour your Sulfite(if needed) and yeast nutrient into that bottle, mix it thoroughly and then pour into the container.
4. Pour in enough apple juice till you have about enough space for half a bottle of apple juice/cider
5. Save the bottles and wash them out. You'll need them for storing the
finished product. Make sure you do a good job of cleaning them as they
will get gross very quickly if left dirty. Any left over sanitizing
solution will do a wonderful job.
Step 6: Mix your juice
the container thoroughly for about 1-2 minutes. You want a nice vortex
to form. This is referred to as "degassing" the wine. It is getting any
dissolved gases out of the liquid.
Step 7: Pour yeast in
your yeast through the funnel into the mixture. This is referred to as
"pitching" the yeast. Keep the funnel in the neck for the moment.
Step 8: Pour the remaining Apple Juice/Cider in
depending on what yeast you are using you may be able to get away with
filling it right up to the neck. I would recommend you leave about 3-4
inches below where the neck begins at the bottom as there will be a foam
Anyways, pour the remaining amount of juice in, washing the yeast out of the funnel and leaving enough space.
No further mixing is needed.
Step 9: Attach Airlock
capping system. Since the fermentation produces CO2, the jug must be capped in a way that allows CO2 to escape.
- Option 1 (Preferred): Place the airlock in the mouth of the jug. The
airlock not only keeps the jug capped in a way that allows CO2 to
escape, but also allows you to monitor the rate of fermentation by
watching the bubbles pass through.
- Option 2: Place a balloon over the mouth of the jug and secure it
with a rubber band or tape. It is very important to poke a hole in the
balloon with a needle; this will keep the pressure positive in the jug,
preventing air from entering while allowing the release of CO2.
- Option 3: Use clay to seal a tube into the mouth of the jug, then
place the other end of the tube in the bottom of a glass of water. As
with the airlock, bubbles will be seen occasionally as the CO2 exits.
Step 10: Fermenting your wine
Place it somewhere relatively cool (65-75F) and out of the way. Animals
and kids love to play with the airlock, so it's best in the bottom of a
closet, out of the way.
Check your airlock occasionally and make sure it is still firmly attached, especially the first few days. "DO NOT REMOVE IT."
Check often to see if the sanitized liquid is gone from the commercial or tubing airlocks. Refill it if needed.
If the foam gunks up into any of them, do not panic. Remove them, clean
them off, sanitize, and place them back on. That gunk has a layer of CO2
keeping the air out.
I keep a spare airlock for just this reason.
You may smell a something akin to a "Rhino Fart" Don't worry. It will dissipate in time.
Leave it there for about 4-5 weeks. Once it becomes clear, it's ready
for tasting and drinking. Some wines are quicker, some require longer.
The key is to wait until it clears up.
One exception is that if you used anything other than wine yeast, it may
not clear up. You can generally expect it to be done at 4 weeks then.
You can use other equipment to judge if it is done, but that is another tool you'd need to buy.
Step 11: Adjusting to Taste
Once the wine has finished and begun to clear on it's own, you can
modify it to your taste. Sanitize your turkey baster by submerging it in
a jar of sanitized liquid and sucking some into the baster. Discard the
sucked up liquid and and pull a sample from the container. Don't let
the airlock get too far.
You'll want to get about a glassful of wine before judging. Feel free to
seal the container back up and come back to it if you want to judge
If it's fine, proceed to the next step.
If it needs to be sweetened, follow the below.
1, Sanitize the mixing handle from earlier.
2, Get two cups of sample.
3. Boil about 4 pounds of sugar to 4 cups of water. Let it cool.
4. Pour into sample about a 1/2 oz at a time. Mix it thoroughly and
taste. Do not drink. Once it is good, read on. Go ahead and pour that
sample into a glass and enjoy! Don't return it to the container.
For every 1/2 ounce you added to the sample, pour 4 fl. oz. of sugar solution per gallon into your container.
For instance, if the sample needed .75 fl. oz to taste good and I had 3 gallons, I would add 18 fl. oz. to it.
5. Add potassium sorbate into the container. Use 1/4 teaspoon per gallon of wine OR follow the directions on your package.
6(sorta optional). Add 1/4 tsp of Potassium Metabisulfite if you've made
a 5-6 gallon batch. Look at the earlier step on how to scale the
solution if you need to make it smaller or bigger.
This is optional if you went ahead with sulfites from the start. If not, then you will need to add it.
Again, omit if you are allergic to sulfites, though Sorbate works better
in the presence of sulfite. This will also help long term stability.
You are looking for 70 or so ppm in the final beverage. You can use less
if you are worried about sulfur tastes or don't plan on keeping much
wine on hand. It is needed though, if you plan on aging for an extended
7. Mix the container. Get a nice vortex and do so for a 4-5 minutes. You
will knock yeast back up into the solution. Don't worry. It will settle
back down in time.
8. Replace the airlock.
9. Go ahead and leave it alone for about a few days or so. Once yeast
and other stuff settle back down at the bottom of the container and it
is has cleared again, go to the next step.
Don't be afraid to wait up to a week or two. If it isn't getting clearer
after that time, don't worry and just proceed to the next step. The
wine is not ruined. It will just be a little cloudy.
Step 12: Bottling
Sanitize the siphon/siphon tubing(inside AND out), funnel and the caps
and bottles you wish store the wine in. Additionally, you may wish to
sanitize a coffee filter. I find that it's better to just avoid getting
the siphon tube near the yeast in the first place.
Remove the airlock and put the siphon into liquid. Make sure you do not let it sit on the yeast at the bottom of the container.
A bathroom or laying down a towel is recommended.
OPTIONAL-if you have a big enough container and plan on bottling right
away, you can further reduce yeast bottling by siphoning all of the
liquid out of the container and into another, allowing it to settle for a
minute or two, then bottling. Of course, make sure you sanitize the
Having another person also helps as they can make sure the tubing stays
in the container at the proper level, avoiding yeast. An autosiphon can
do that, as well as eliminate step 4.
1. To siphon, you will need to place the container on top of cabinet or ledge.
2. Put your bottles underneath it.
3. Making sure the tubing is still inside the container, let the other end fall below it.
4. Suck on the tubing. Do not blow on it in anyway.
5. Once liquid is over the top of the container in the tubing, put your thumb over the end.
6. Grab a bottle and release your thumb. The liquid should start flowing
out of the tubing. Fill the bottle through the funnel. Do not submerge
the line into the bottle, as your mouth has touched the end.
(Optional) If you want to remove yeast from the bottling, put the coffee
filter in. It will not remove all of them, but will help to a degree.
Keeping them in does not hurt though. I find that the coffee filter
slows down the process too much also. YMMV.
7. Once it is filled, quickly grab another bottle and begin filling it.
Cinch or otherwise cut off the flow of the tube. Continue until you are
8. Place caps on the bottles.
Step 13: Enjoy!
At this point, chill and serve your wine. Leave a little bit of wine at
the bottom of every bottle to avoid getting yeast. Enjoy it in