The 5 Steps Of Making Homemade Wine

There’s a lot of variation in how to make your own wine, however, the same basic steps apply regardless of what type of wine you make.

  1. Must preparation: For this step of how to make your own wine, the fruit or wine grapes are made into a mushy substance, known as the “must”.  During this stage, sugar and acid levels must balance so that when following the wine recipe it leads to a well-balanced wine.
  2. Primary and Secondary Fermentation:  During the primary fermentation, wine yeast converts sugar to alcohol and carbon dioxide.  This is also known as aerobic fermentation, since the fermentation container is exposed to air.  Primary fermentation lasts for 3 to 5 days, and accounts for around 70% of the entire fermentation activity. Secondary fermentation is much slower, lasting one or two weeks, and ferments the remaining 30% left unfermented by primary fermentation.  This is also known as anaerobic fermentation, since the fermentation container is closed off to air.  This focuses the wine yeast on converting sugar to alcohol instead of multiplying.
  3. Racking & Aging:  The purpose of the racking step is to transfer the wine from one fermenter to another, leaving behind sediment in the bottom of the first fermenter and out of the finished wine.  You may rack wine multiple times if there’s a lot of sediment to remove. Aging wine can occur over any time period, depending upon what type of wine you are making.  Aging allows the wine to evolve and develop, which effectively alters the flavor, aroma, and taste of the wine.  Typically, red wines require longer aging than white wines, in order to develop the more complex characteristics that are unique to red wines.
  4. Clarification and Stabilization:  The clarification step acts to further “fine” the wine from sediments by adding finings or further racking to remove solid particles and sediment. Changes in temperature, humidity, or other environmental factors can cause chemical reactions in wine, which sometimes results in the precipitation of solids. Stabilizing the wine using chemical or temperature treatments will prevent your wine from experiencing this precipitation when exposed to less-than-ideal conditions.
  5. Bottling and Storing: The last step in this overview on how to make your own wine, comes after you’ve finished your delectable wine.  Bottle it to protect it from overexposure to air, light, and other environmentally detrimental conditions. Finally, you want to store your wine under “cellar conditions” in order to preserve the life of your wine.  Lay the bottle on its side, keep it in the dark, and store around 55°F.
    Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

0 thoughts on “The 5 Steps Of Making Homemade Wine

  1. When I am in the fermentation process, will the wine have a stonger flavor if I allow it to ferment a little longer?

  2. John, the amount of alcohol your wine will have is not determined by how long it ferments. It is controlled by the amount of sugar that is available to the wine yeast. The yeast eat the sugars and turns half to alcohol, half to CO2 gas by weight. But you can only take this so far. Many wine yeast can only go up to 13% or 14%, others maybe 16%.

  3. Not all wines require must, keep it simple, make white. No skins, juice only is fermented. 3 months max to drinkable wine. Cold fermentation controls consistency, can be done in the frig in up to 3 gallon containers.

  4. My experience with fermentation requires frequent transfers of the wine and sometimes addition of more sugar and or yeast before my wine is ready to bottle.
    I would like to know if addition of blackberry brandy to blAckberry wine a few days before bottling will enhance the quality of the wine?

  5. Bill, what you are referring to is fortifying your wine. Adding blackberry brandy to your blackberry wine will enhance its flavor but only to a marginal degree. The alcohol will also be raised considerably. I would suggest doing a test on some of the wine first before treating the entire batch.

  6. I have added potassium sorbate and campden tablets to my finished wine and am ready to bottle. I have a few that I play with (adjusting the flavors in glass gallon jugs) and my corks blow off still. What do I need to do? I am a little uneasy to bottle. Help—I have added my air-locks back on most of my 1-5 gallon jugs. Thank you for responding. I have never had this happen before.

  7. Sharyl, if you have added potassium sorbate to the wine and are still getting gases, this is an indication that there is still too much residual yeast left in the wine, and it needs more time to drop out. It is possible for there to be too much yeast in the wine and still not be able to see it with the naked-eye. Potassium sorbate can not stop a wine from fermenting; it can only stop yeast from multiplying into greater, more problematic, numbers. So if there is still enough yeast left in the wine to cause a problem, then potassium sorbate does not help you at all. At this point I would either let the wine set under and air-lock for a another month or two, or more ideally, you could chill the wine and get all the yeast to become inactive and drop out of the wine. You could then rack the wine off the sediment and then bottle immediately — a process that typically take a couple of weeks.

  8. I would like to make wine from grape juice. I did get some info from a Greg Howard but need all of the recipe from him or who ever can help.
    like, how many gallons of Juice do I add, do you add water, time it takes to be drinkable and what ever else I need to know. Thank you, Daniel