The Process Behind Homemade Wine
On a previous page we discussed how to make a variety of homemade wines. The top two choices of how to make wine without a commercial kit were to use pulp or juice as your starting ingredient.
Both of these processes are explained below. You’ll see how truly easy it is to make wine once you’ve finished this page!
- This traditional process gives the best wine color and flavor.
- A pulp is made of the fruit and fermentation begins in a bucket.
- The bucket is called a ‘primary fermentor’ and the fruit pulp is called ‘must’.
- Water, sugar and other ingredients are added to the pulp and the fermentor is sealed against air by an airlock (if you’re on a tight budget you can secure plastic wrap around the top with a rubber band).
- Within a few days the resulting juice is removed from the primary (bucket) and placed into a ‘secondary fermentor’ – homemade wine enthusiasts call this a carboy.
- This beginning fermentation process actually works best for white wine varieties (where final wine color and a deep flavor is not a concern).
- To make wine by juice fermentation you’ll be using the juices that are extracted from the fruit (by mashing, then straining), or by using a juice concentrate, or by purchasing a wine kit – see the kits below).
- The juice, concentrate, or kit contents, are then placed directly into the carboy, bypassing the entire pulp fermentation stage as above.
What Are The Next Steps In How to Make Wine?
- Sterilize All Equipment
- Prepare the Must*
Pulp Fermentation – Add all ingredients except yeast and nutrient to your primary fermentor (bucket).
Dissolve the sugar in pure filtered and boiled water.
Let it stand covered, but not locked, for 24 hours.
Juice Fermentation – Add all ingredients to the carboy (remember you are bypassing the entire first container process here) and plug the bottle with a paper towel to allow oxygen into the bottle. This promotes yeast growth during the first few days, after this period you will not want air to touch your wine.
- Take A Hydrometer Reading
If you’ve got a hydrometer, take a reading of the starting SG (Specific Gravity).
- Add the Yeast
Fermentation will start within 2 days – you will notice foam formation and bubbles rising towards the surface.
Pulp fermentation may take up to a week. The fruit will float on top and needs to be pressed down and gently stirred a few times a day.
While The Wine is Being Made…
- Take Another Hydrometer Reading
Keep an eye on the SG (Specific Gravity) during the initial fermentation period, generally when it reaches 1.020 it’s time to…
- Strain and Rack Your Homemade Wine
The sediment (on bottom) and cap (on top) now need to be separated from the wine by ‘racking’ (siphoning and straining).
Avoid vigorous splashing, this exposes your wine to the air, which may cause oxidization. Fill your bottles almost to the top, if no foam is being formed.
- Time for the Airlock
The Biggest Factor in How To Make Wine – The Wait
After a month or so, fill the carboy all the way to the top to minimize the surface area. When the wine has stopped fermenting (it has stopped bubbling) it will need racking again (siphon and strain). This may need to be done several times to ensure a perfectly clear batch of wine.
Take Another Hydrometer Reading of Your Wine
When the Air Lock stops bubbling and the SG (Specific Gravity) reaches .0990 it’s time to…
Add Fining Agents to the Batch
Add bentonite, especially if the wine is hazy. Of course if your recipe calls for something different, then please follow that wine recipe, adding whatever is required at this fining stage.
Bottling, Corking, Labeling
- 24 hours before bottling add one crushed campden tablet to the wine (available at most wine supply store.
- Then, 12 to 24 hours before bottling your home made wine, soak your corks in a sulphite solution.
- When ready, fill bottles to about 1 cm below where the cork will reach.
- Labels are best glued on with a water soluble glue (any paper glue or glue stick works fine).
Wait and Wait Some More
Aging improves the quality of your homemade wine. Although you’re probably anxious to show your friends that you learned how to make wine at home, let your bottles sit a few months to a year before indulging.
But most of all, when talking about wine…
"Enjoy the Labor of Your Fruits!"