How to Make Your Own Homemade Wine: The Basics

Pouring a glass of wine

Here are simple overall instructions for making a nice homemade country wine. This guide is by no means comprehensive. It is a list for me to reference when I’m ready to make a new batch, and it assumes some prior knowledge of winemaking.

The recipe here is for 1-gallon batches, which will produce five 750-ml bottles of finished wine.

Main ingredients for making homemade country wine

  • Fruit — 2 or 3 pounds, or Grapes — 5 or 6 pounds, or Fruit juice — 6 to 8 cups
  • Sugar or honey — about 2 pounds
  • Water — to make 1 gallon
  • Acid blend — 1 1/2 teaspoons
  • Tannin — 1/4 teaspoon
  • Pectic enzyme — 1 teaspoon
  • Campden tablet, crushed — 1
  • Yeast nutrient — 1/2 teaspoon
  • Wine or champagne yeast — 1 (5-gram) packet

Special winemaking equipment

  • 1 (2-gallon) fermenting vessel
  • 2 (1-gallon) carboys
  • 2 airlocks
  • Hydrometer
  • Racking cane and tube with clamp
  • Sanitizing solution (to sterilize equipment)
  • Wine bottles
  • New corks
  • Corker

1. Harvesting or choosing fruit

Use fresh fruit at peak ripeness, or choose bottled, prepared juice. Wash, remove stones or seeds, trim bruised parts from the fruit. Measure out the amount you need.  Crush it in the clean fermenting vessel.

2. Cleaning and sterilizing your equipment

  • Clean all equipment well with soap and hot water. Use bottle brushes if needed. Soak overnight for stubborn stains.
  • Sterilize all equipement with one of several sanitizers. Keep sanitizer and reuse until it loses its strength.
    • Chlorine: 1/4 teaspoon unscented bleach per 1 gallon water. Rinse very well after use
    • Iodophor: Iodine-based sanitizer. 1 ounce per 5 gallons water. Careful: it can stain!
    • B-Brite: 1 tablespoon powder per 1 gallon water. Rinse well after use.
    • Campden tablets: 14 tablets, crushed and 1/2 teaspoon per 1 gallon water. No need to rinse after use. Add a few inches to container and add all utensils. Cover and let fumes do their work for about 20 minutes.
    • Potassium metabisulfite powder: 1 teaspoon per 1 gallon water.
  • To clean siphon, siphon from sanitizer container into carboy

3. Adjusting sugar content and acidity

  • Add the sugar and water. Measure brix and adjust as needed to get XXX specific gravity. Record specific gravity.
  • Brix is best between 22 and 25. HOW TO TEST. DETERMINING AMOUNT OF SUGAR TO ADD
  • Acidity: Adjust pH to between 3 and 3.4 with lemon juice or citric acid.

4. Sterilizing your wine must

  • Crush and stir in a Campden tablet (1 Campden tablet per 1 gallon of must). Cover fermenter and rest 24 hours.

5. Initial fermentation

  • Remove lid and stir in activated yeast and yeast energizer. Cover and add airlock. Allow to ferment in a clean vessel for about a week. After this time, the yeast will becomes less vigorous and active.
  • Transfer to a carboy with an airlock using a racking siphon to leave behind the solids and sediment..

6. Racking to clarify the wine

Red wines need racking. White wines don’t always need it. Some stored sur lie (on the lee).

First Rack

Insert siphon tube and inch or two above sediment level in initial carboy. Siphon from initial fermenting vessel into clean carboy. Clamp siphon closed when you get close to the sediment. Top off to neck with water. Install a clean airlock on the carboy. Ferment for 3 weeks.

Second Rack

Siphon into clean carboy. Store for another 2 months, or until the wine has completely cleared.

If you want a sweeter wine, add potassium sorbate and sweeten to taste. Then airlock and rest another week before bottling.

Third Rack

Siphon into bottles.

You can rack as many times as you like, although more than twice isn’t really necessary if you’ll be filtering your wine.

7. Bottling your wine

  • Bottles: White wine in clear bottles, red wine in green bottles. Soak off labels and get very, very clean. Sanitize.
  • Corks: Don’t reuse old corks. Too much that can go wrong. Soak corks for 2 or 3 hours with metabisulphite or steam for 5 minutes. #8 size for storing 1 to 2 years. #9 size for storing 2 to 7 years.
  • Siphon from carboy into bottles to minimize contact with air and leave behind any sediment. No splashing, and fill from the bottom up with the tube at the bottom of the bottle. Fill up to 3/4 inch below where bottom of inserted cork will be.

8. Aging the finished wine

  • Rest for 3 to 5 days upright to dry out corks
  • Then rest the bottles on their sides for 6 to 9 months in a dark, temperature-stable room.


  • See here for better amounts of the core fruit: