How to Make Homemade Wine: A Complete Guide to Fruit Wine and Red Wine Recipes

by Karl Updated on May 14, 2021

Quarantine made us all a bit experimental, and lucky you, we just found your next big project: making homemade wine!

While we can’t turn water into wine, we can, however, make it ourselves at home in many ways, using science and art. It’s simple and easy!

Let’s get started, shall we?

Can You Make Wine at Home?

Expensive-looking bottles and fancy-schmancy names give us the illusion that wine can only be made by the oldest and finest wine makers in Europe.

But, reality is, you don’t need to go to the Italian and Spanish countryside to make one.

Simply, brew them yourself at home, and yes, you absolutely can. (You can even whip up home-brewed beer, FYI)

Winemaking is a natural process you can do from the comforts of your own home. No vineyard needed here, folks!

And even better? You can make wine in all kinds of flavors. In today’s article, we’ll be sharing our two favorite homemade wine recipes out of fruits and grape juice. PSA, they’re tested and proven!

What You Need to Make Wine

Before we get into the task of making delicious wine, we’ll need to head over to the nearest grocery store for basic supplies. Here’s everything to make wine.

Fruit

We recommend using frozen fruits if you want more flavor. Freezing fruits break down its structure and easily release the juice.

But a fresh fruit would work just as fine. Crushing it and beating it to a pulp does the same trick.

Below are fruit suggestions you can use to make your fruit wines:

  • Grapes (white grapes/ white grape juice are for white wine; merlot grapes for red wine)
  • Plum
  • Strawberry
  • Cherry
  • Raspberry
  • Elderberry
  • Banana
  • Apple

Sugar

You’ll have to use a lot of sugar when making wine. But don’t be scared, it won’t give you diabetes! Why?

Because all the sugar we’ll be using will be converted into alcohol. That’s why the more sugar you add, the higher the alcohol content would be.

To make wine, you can choose from either granulated sugar or organic cane sugar. There’s not a problem at all. Most wine making kits come with granulated sugar.

Yeast

Ever wondered what’s the science or magic behind making alcohol? Yeast.

These tiny packets turn all the ingredients into wine. When it comes down to it, we have two options:

  • Wild Yeast: These are natural yeasts used in traditional winemaking. It’s a much more difficult route since you have to activate it, but nonetheless, it’s a fun experience!
  • Wine Yeast: If you’re a newbie, it’s better to start off with a wine yeast or champagne yeast. It’s easier and has better consistency when you don’t know all the ropes just yet. There are different types that you can choose from such as Montrachet or Red Star Premier Blanc.

Wine Additives

The flavor and appearance of your wine are improved by wine additives, and they come in a variety. Here’s a little guide to know which ones you should use:

  • Tannin: Wine tannin comes in handy when you want to balance out the sweetness in your wine. It gives it an earthy flavor much like black coffee.
  • Pectic Enzyme: This additive breaks down fruits to extract the juice and its nutrients. It’s best used for fruits that are difficult to mash such as rhubarb.
  • Acid: If your fruit or white wine has a strong and harsh taste, adding any citrus fruit such as lemon juice will tone it down a bit.
  • Yeast Nutrient: When fermentation is slow or there isn’t enough bubble action, then it needs an extra kick of yeast nutrient.

Water

Lastly, we have water. When making wine you should only use filtered water, because tap water can kill your yeast.

What Equipment You Need to Make Wine

No fancy or expensive wine tools here, only the basics!

Fermentation Container

You’ll need two of these: one as your primary fermentation container, and the second as your secondary fermentation vessel.

Your primary fermentation container should be a big bucket, a large gallon jug, or a crock to make room for the wine mixture and bubbles later on. It should be AT LEAST 1.4 gallons in size.

For secondary fermentation, a good old glass jug will do! 1 gallon glass carboys that come complete with a lock and cork are good for winemaking.

Airlock

Airlocks make things so much easier! Although it’s not necessary, we highly recommend using one to release air during fermentation without allowing microbes and bugs inside the jug.

It’s the safer and cleaner choice between using a makeshift balloon one to brew. Also, it’s pretty cheap at only $6.

Bottling Equipment

This is simply your glass bottles to store red wines or the final product. You can either purchase a good thick glass bottle that comes with a corker or recycle from old ones.

Fermentation Bag

Or otherwise known as a wine bag. If you’re making fruit wine, you’ll need to have one.

Instructions for Making Fruit Wine

Country wines or fruit wines are a great choice for an alcohol drink to match with a fine meal of fish and chicken. What’s nice about it is you can choose from different types of fruits as a base!

Whether it’s homemade strawberry wine or banana wine, you can make it using our recipe.

Just a little warning, you’ll need lots of patience. The process can be long and might take you nothing short of 6 months. But, trust us, it’s worth the wait!

1. Prepare the Ingredients

To make your own homemade fruit wine, you’ll need to get your hands on the following ingredients:

  • 1 pound of sugar
  • 1 gallon of boiled water
  • 2 drops of liquid pectic enzyme (or any wine additives)
  • 2 pounds of freshly cleaned and cut fruit of your choice (better frozen)
  • 1 packet of yeast

A bread yeast would do, but we suggest using a special wine yeast since it doesn’t peter as fast and is specifically formulated for making wine.

2. Combine Ingredients

Add the sugar, water, and pectic enzyme together in your primary fermenter/ container and stir well. Pectic enzyme gets more flavor and juice out of the fruit and into the wine.

3. Place Fruit in Fermentation Bag

Once that’s done, we can now place the fruit pulps into a fermenting bag. Make sure that it’s completely submerged in boiled water.

4. Let It Sit

Cover the fermenter with a clean towel and let it cool for 24 hours. Leave it in a high and dry place where you won’t easily forget.

A good location would be the kitchen counter, just make sure to keep them far far away from the child’s reach, or else it’s a recipe for disaster!

This process allows the mixture to settle in and absorb all the juice for the best and most expensive taste.

5. Add Yeast

After a day, you can now add the yeast.

1 packet might be too much for the bottle that you’re making, so it’s better to ADD 1/5 of it first and add the rest later on when your fruit wine isn’t bubbling enough during the second fermentation.

6. Wait

It’s now time to ferment. With all the ingredients complete and combined in your container, the next step is to allow it to undergo primary fermentation. Let it sit for 5-6 days.

By the 5th day, the sugar and yeast should more or less be completely converted into alcohol.

7. Drain the Bag

After a week, the fruit should feel soggy and gooey. This is your sign to finally take them out and drain them without squeezing too hard.

To keep things clean, discard the fermented pulps. You won’t need them anymore since you have half-fermented wine. Once done, let it rest for 3-5 more days.

8. Siphon and Airlock

Transfer the mixture into the carboy to prepare for secondary fermentation.

Try to be careful as much as possible. Finish the task with an airlock with a 4-5 inches gap between the liquid and the bottom of the lock to allow carbon dioxide to escape.

9. Store

Store the wine in a cool dark place, preferably with a room temperature under 21 °C. If you have a basement or a wine cellar at your home, then it would be perfect.

10. Siphon

After a few weeks to a month, transfer the wine into a new carboy for sanitary measures. It helps prevent yeast infections and makes your homemade wine safe to drink.

Repeat the process EVERY 3 MONTHS.

11. Transfer to the Final Bottle

Once a good 6 months have passed, check on your country wine.

When there aren’t bubbles moving through the airlock or at the top of the wine, you can siphon the clear wine into the glass bottles, just in time for your anniversary or date night.

Hot Tip: Store the bottle longer for a richer taste… that is if you’re willing to wait.

12. Cheers

One homemade fruit wine ready for consumption!

Instructions for Making Red Wine

This wine recipe stands out because it’s the simplest and easiest to do. Unlike fruit wine, you don’t have to wait for months before you can enjoy what you’ve made. You can sip and wine in just 7 days.

(But, of course, letting it mature longer is always better and advisable)

1. Prepare the Ingredients

For this home-brewed wine, we’ll only need 3 things:

  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 gallon of grape juice (look for the 100% grape fruit juice on the label like Welch’s Concord Grape Juice) Or 2 pounds of crushed wine grapes
  • 1 packet of yeast

2. Set Grape Juice to Room Temperature

Juice should be at room temperature or higher. If your juice is refrigerated, you’ll have to let it sit out for a while.

3. Add Everything Together

It’s now time to bring out your primary fermentation vessel, a.k.a. the big container.

Combine the juice, sugar, and 1/5 of yeast and mix well. Finish the task by transferring the mixture to your final container.

4. Bottle It Up

By screwing the cap of the bottle and loosening it by one turn, you can leave room for carbon dioxide to escape.

This is extremely important because it allows your mixture to bubble and begin the process of fermentation.

5. Wait

You’re nearly set. Now that it’s all bottled up, you’ll only have to keep a close eye on it and check on it daily.

After 3 days, the bubbles should fizzle and stop. But, in case that you don’t see any bubble action, you can put your ear beside it to listen. If there aren’t enough bubbles, add 1 tablespoon of yeast nutrient.

6. Taste Test

Once the bubbles have stopped, it means that your homemade wine is ready.

Pop open the lid and do a little taste test to check if it passes your standards. You can add extra sugar to increase alcohol concentration and if you want to get the classic sangria taste.

7. Transfer to Final Container

When all is good, you can now siphon it to your glass container. Use a funnel to transfer the wine and to avoid upsetting the sediment.

8. Refrigerate and Enjoy

After bottling your brew, you can drink red wine to your heart’s content.

How to Store and Bottle Homemade Wine the Right Way

Now that you know how to make wine at home, let’s talk about how you should store it, a process just as important.

Great taste is all in storage,” many wine experts and enthusiasts say. And they’re right. There’s a lot more to the ritual than filling your wine bottles and stashing them away at a dark corner.

Winemakers take great pride in storing their bottles in mint condition, and this process begins with your bottle.

As Soon as Your Wine Is Bottled

When you have your first bottle of homemade wine, it needs to be kept in an upright standing position for 3 to 5 days. This prevents leaks and allows pressure to build up for fermentation.

Where to store?

Once the 5 days are up, it’s time for storage. The best place is in a cool and dark room with a stable and consistent temperature. Remember, the LESS LIGHT there is, the better, so keep away from direct light.

You can store it in a wine cellar as the finest winemakers would do, or, better yet go get yourself a wine rack or a wine cabinet. Home winemaking doesn’t have to be expensive.

Store the bottle sideways as how you normally would and try not to open or shake it too much.

How Long Should You Age Wine?

It completely depends on the type of wine you’re making.

Fruit wines, for example, will take at least 6 months to mature, the same goes for white wines. For red wines, the fermentation process takes longer spanning from 6 months to 1 year.

How to Store Wine After It’s Opened?

Simply, re-cork the wine bottles and store inside the fridge! Easy as pie!

Wine FAQs

What Does It Taste Like?

Depending on how you brew it and the ratio of your ingredients, homemade red wines shouldn’t taste any different than your commercial wine.

If you chose to freeze your grapes, then it’s likely that the taste is stronger and it’s more alcoholic.

If you used lots of sugar and room temperature grapes instead, then the final result would be a sweet wine.

How Do You Check the Alcohol Level?

Easy! A hydrometer will do the job. Unlike store-bought wine, a homemade wine’s exact alcohol content is much more to tell.

But here are key points to remember:

  • Higher sugar level means higher alcohol
  • Freezing wine after fermentation will lead to a mixture that’s close to a brandy in terms of alcohol levels
  • To lessen wine, add more fruits or grapes

How Long Does Homemade Wine Last?

Again, there’s no real difference between the shelf life of a wine made from a winery or your own home.

Can Homemade Wine Kill You?

Good news!

It won’t.

But sometimes your wine won’t always come out successful.

If it has an “off taste” to it, it might be contaminated with bacteria or a yeast infection, which is why it’s important to have sanitized bottles and clean equipment before you begin the winemaking process.

The Art of Winemaking: Final Word of Advice

See? Making wine at home is simple. It’s a careful ritual of adding, siphoning, and storing.

A parting advice that we’d like to leave you with is to enjoy the process.

Winemaking is an art as much as it is a science. What would taste good for you might be different from others, so don’t be afraid to mix things up.

The recipes are merely a guide. Wine is a matter of taste.

Go play around and have fun!

Enjoy a Glass of Home-Brewed Wine!

Sit back, relax, and enjoy your fruits of labor. Nothing feels better than to drink your wine after a long hard day.

Hopefully, you’ll love our recipe as much as we did.

Let us know how it went!

Oh, and keep wine away from minors.

Karl S: Lead marketer, brewer, dad, and husband. Pretty much an all-round awesome guy.