How To...

How To Make Homemade Wine

Now, that home brewers have mastered the art of homemade beer, the wine industry had decided to take a bite of the pie. Homemade wine, whether it’s from fresh grapes or from wine kits, is always the best complement to a perfect dinner.

High quality wine kits emerged onto the Californian consumer market in the 1970s. Making a kit wine is less expensive and labor-intensive than making wine from fresh grapes, just renting the equipment alone is a cost all on its own. Another additional benefit from wine kits are that they contain all the additives and ingredients you’ll need, with the appropriate measurements. There are four different types of wine kits: pure juice, fully concentrated grape juice; partially concentrated grape juice; a combination of juice and concentrate.

SYRUP Magazine has generated easy step-by-step instructions on how to brew homemade wine. Since wine kits come equipped with ingredients and instructions, we though it’d be fun if we showed you how to make it from scratch.

  • Basic Winemaking Equipment
  • Large nylon straining bag
  • Food-grade pail w/ lid (2-4 gallons)
  • Cheesecloth
  • Hydrometer
  • Thermometer
  • Acid titration kit
  • Clear, flexible ½ inch diameter plastic tubing
  • Two one-gallon glass jugs
  • Fermentation lock and bung
  • Five 750-ml wine bottles
  • Corks
  • Hand Corker

Good wine comes from good grapes. Make sure that your grapes are ripe by testing the sugar density. Crush two handfuls of grapes and measure the sugar level with a hydrometer, the sugar density should be around 22 degrees Brix. The grapes should taste sweet, ripe, and slightly tart. Make sure you remove all the stems from the grapes, leaving them will make your wine bitter.

Sanitize your equipment thoroughly. You do not want any type of debris to get mixed into the wine making process.

Dry White Table Wine Ingredients

  • 18lbs. ripe white grapes
  • 1 campden tablet or 1 tsp. Sulfite Crystals
  • Tartaric Acid, if necessary
  • Table Sugar, if necessary
  • 1 packet wine yeast (like Champagne or Montrachet)
  1. Pick ripe white grapes. Remove any moldy clusters and stems and clean grapes thoroughly.
  2. Place grapes into the nylon straining bag and put into the bottom of the food-grade plastic pail. Using your hands or a sanitized tool (i.e. potato masher), firmly crush the grapes inside the bag.
  3. Crush the campden tablet (or measure 1 tsp. Of Sulfite Crystals) and sprinkle over the crushed fruit in the bag. Cover pail and bag with a cheesecloth and let it sit for one hour.
  4. Lift the nylon straining bag out of the pail. Wring the bag to extract as much juice as possible. You should have about one gallon of juice in the pail.
  5. Measure the temperature of the juice. It should be between 55-65 degrees F. Adjust the temperature as necessary. Take a sample of the juice in the pail and use your titration kit to measure the acid level. It should be between 6.5 and 7.5 grams per liter. If it is not, adjust accordingly.
  6. Check the specific gravity of the juice. If it isn’t around 22 degrees Brix, adjust accordingly.
  7. Dissolve the package of yeast in 1-pint warm water and let it stand until bubbly. When it’s bubbling, pour yeast solution directly into the juice. Cover pail with cheesecloth, set in a cool area and check that fermentation has begun in at least 24 hours. Monitor fermentation progress and temperature at least once a day..
  8. Once the juice has reached dryness (at least 0.5 degrees Brix), rack the wine off the sediment into a sanitized one-gallon jug, topping up with dry white wine of a similar style. Fit with a sanitized bung and fermentation lock. Keep the container topped with white wine. Be sure the fermentation lock always has sulfite solution in it. After 10 days, rack the wine into another sanitized one-gallon jug. Top up with wine again.
  9. After three months, siphon the clarified wine off the sediment and into clean, sanitized bottles and cork them.
  10. Store bottles in cool, dark place and wait at least three months before drinking.

Racking the Wine

"Racking" means transferring the fermenting wine away from sediment. Insert a clear, ½ inch diameter plastic hose into the fermenter and siphon the clear wine into another sanitized jug. Then top it off and fit it with a sanitized bung and fermentation lock. Do not stir up the sediment, but don’t lost your siphon suction.

Bottling the Finished Product

Siphon your wine into the bottles (leaving 2 inches below the rim), insert a cork into the hand corker, position the bottle under the corker and pull the lever. Buy extra corks and practice with an empty bottle first.

Adjusting the Juice

To bring the sugar level up, make a sugar syrup by dissolving one cup of sugar into 1/3 cup of water. Bring it to a boil and cool it before adding in small amounts, one tablespoon at a time. To lower sugar level, just dilute your juice with water.

The temperature can also be adjusted to provide a good environment for the yeast cells. Warm up the juice gently, do not boil it.