Home Wine Making Basics

Delightful country wines can be made at home with almost any fruits, vegetables, flowers, grains, etc; (providing they are not poisonous!). A reputable supplier will certainly stock the items mentioned and will be pleased to give advice on any problems. Grape concentrates may also be used to make good vins ordinaires quickly and simply.


Must Prepared fruit, vegetables, „vain, etc., which give the wine its flavour, colour and name. Small quantities of grape concentrate, raisins or sultanas are sometimes added to other musts to lend a true wine flavour.

Wine yeast

Changes the sugar in the must to alcohol and carbon dioxide. Some yeasts may be added direct to the must, others need to be activated first. Follow the instructions on the packet for best results.

It is very important to remember that the yeast must be kept at a temperature of about 24°C (75°F) throughout fermentation.

White granulated sugar Helps the yeast attain the required alcohol content in the wine — generally 10-15 per cent for table wines — and adds sweetness.

Other additives: Campden tablets (sodium metabisulphite) are used to sterilize the must and to prevent further yeast activity after fermentation; pectozyme destroys pectin in the must which may cause haziness in the wine; and yeast nutrient and energizer help the yeast to multiply and aid fermentation.


All nylon, plastic, polythene or PVC items should be clear or white in colour and of food-grade quality. All items that come in contact with the wine should be washed, then sterilized in a solution of sodium metabisulphite and drained dry before use to prevent contamination.

Fermentation bin Wide-necked plastic or polythene container with a lid, such as a small dustbin, needed for fermentation on the pulp. Glass jar (demijohn) Ideal for the second stage of fermentation and a second one will be useful when racking the wine. Mark the jar(s) on the outside at the 4.5-litre (1 gallon) level as a guide when topping up.

Airlock Sits in a bored cork in the neck of the demijohn, sealing out oxygen and wild yeasts while allowing carbon dioxide gas to bubble off the wine. Put a little diluted sterilizing solution in the airlock to kill bacteria.

Hydrometer Measures the specific gravity of a liquid. In winemaking it will indicate the amount of sugar in the must, allowing the potential alcohol in the finished wine to be calculated. It will also give an indication of when fermentation has ceased by giving the same reading consecutively. The specific gravity of a dry wine at the end of fermentation should be close to 996.

PVC tubing Use approximately 1.5 m(5 ft) and a glass u-tube for racking the wine. Bottles Collect empty wine bottles at home or from a wine bar. A long-handled bottle brush is useful for cleaning them.

Corks New cylindrical corks make a good seal and can be fitted by hand — soak in water overnight, then dip them in diluted sterilizing solution before fitting. Store the bottles on their sides to keep the corks moist. Plastic stoppers are easy to fit by hand and are reusable. Bottles sealed in this way should be stored upright. Other equipment A long-handled plastic spoon, a sieve, funnel and a thermometer will also be required.

APPLE WINE (dry white)

5.4 kg (12 lb) mixed apples 225 g (½ lb) sultanas

3.4 litres (6 pints) warm water 1 Campden tablet

5 ml (1 teaspoon) pectic enzyme

1 sachet (10 g) general purpose wine yeast

10 ml (2 teaspoons) yeast nutrient and energizer salts 1 kg (21/4 lb) sugar Wash apples, removing bruised or bad bits, then chop them with the sultanas and place in a wide-necked fermentation bin with the warm water, Campden tablet and the pectic enzyme. Cover closely and leave for 24 hours.

Dissolve half the sugar in 500 ml (1 pint) hot water and add to the must. When it cools to about 24°C (75°F), add the yeast nutrient and energizer salts, stir, then add the yeast. Stir again then cover and leave in a warm place for a week stirring daily.

Strain the pulp through a sieve, squeezing it gently. Dissolve the rest of the sugar in the strained juice, funnel it into a demijohn and top up to 4.5 litres (1 gallon) with tepid water. Fit an airlock and leave to ferment for 5-6 weeks.

Rack the wine off the sediment into a clean demijohn, top up with more tepid water, fit an airlock and leave to ferment out. Fermentation is over when there are no bubbles rising in the wine; this will take several weeks.

Rack the wine again, add 1 Campden tablet, top up with cold water and seal the demijohn with a cork bung. Leave to clear before racking again as above.

After three rackings the wine should be clear and bright and ready for bottling. Siphon finished wine into bottles, seal and store in a cool dark place for at least 3 months before drinking.