What Do People Make Their Homemade Wine In?

Plastic Fermenter, Wine Carboy, Gallon Glass CarboyHere’s a email I received from Linda in California this morning. She wants to know what she can use to ferment her plums.
Dear Folks:
Hopefully I won’t sound like an idiot, but what do people make their homemade wine in exactly. I’ve heard it can be done in a trash can. What material is preferable and what alternatives are there? I want to make plum wine, as my two trees here in California have produced a bumper crop. It must be obvious by now, I have no clue.  Help?
Thank you–Linda G.
Dear Linda,
Most home winemakers use a plastic fermenter of some sort. A plastic trash can usually would not qualify because the plastic used to make them is not food-grade. The plastic that comes in contact with the wine needs to be of food-grade quality.
Glass water jugs can act as a wine carboy for fermenting. You can also use gallon glass jugs for smaller batches. In general, glass containers are perfectly fine for fermenting.
Please keep in mind that the first few days of fermentation needs to be open or exposed to air. Most people use a food-grade plastic fermenter with a thin towel draped over it. But once the fermentation starts to slow down–around the 5th day–you will need to put an air-lock on the fermenter to protect the wine from wild mold, bacteria and anything else that floats in the air.
The air-lock will need to be fitted to the container with the aid of a properly-sized rubber stopper. The stopper needs to have a small hole in it for the air-lock to fit into. Then the stopper is put into the container’s opening. In the case of a plastic fermenter that uses a lid, you may need to drill a hole into the lid for the stopper to fit into.
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.