To all our wine lovers who are in need of a new hobby, start making your wine at home. It’s a lot easier than you think, and let me tell you, this will become your new personality. Serving yourself or your guests a bottle of homemade wine instead of store-bought is an incredibly rewarding hobby and one that will leave you patting yourself on the back.

Why Make Homemade Wine?

Before we jump into the how-to, let’s talk about the why. Making homemade wine has a ton of benefits:

  • Cost-Effective: It’s cheaper than buying premium bottles from the store.
  • Customisable: You can tweak the taste to suit your palate.
  • Satisfaction: The sense of accomplishment from creating your own wine is unbeatable.

Gather Your Supplies

First things first, you’ll need to gather your supplies. Here’s what you need to get started making homemade wine:


  • Primary Fermenter: A large food-grade plastic bucket with a lid.
  • Secondary Fermenter: A glass carboy or demijohn.
  • Airlock and Bung: To let gases escape without letting air in.
  • Siphoning Tube: For transferring your wine.
  • Hydrometer: To measure the alcohol content.
  • Sanitiser: Cleanliness is crucial in winemaking.


  • Fruit: Grapes are the traditional choice, but you can experiment with other fruits.
  • Sugar: Helps the fermentation process.
  • Yeast: Special wine yeast is best.
  • Water: Preferably filtered.
  • Campden Tablets: To kill wild yeast and bacteria.

Step-by-Step Guide to Making Homemade Wine

Step 1: Prepare Your Equipment

Sanitising your equipment is the most critical step. Use a specialised sanitiser to clean all your tools, containers, and bottles. Any lingering bacteria can spoil your wine.

Step 2: Prepare Your Grapes

Pick your winemaking grapes and crush them to extract the juice. The key is to maximise the surface area to extract the most flavour. Add your grapes to your primary fermenter.

Step 3: Add Sugar and Water

Add sugar to your fruit mixture. The amount depends on the sweetness of your fruit and your desired alcohol content. A general rule is about 2-3 pounds of sugar per gallon of wine. Dissolve the sugar in water and pour it over the fruit.

Step 4: Add Yeast and Start Fermentation

Sprinkle the wine yeast over your fruit mixture. Stir well to ensure it’s evenly distributed. Cover the fermenter with a cloth and let it sit for 24 hours. This waiting period allows the Campden tablets to do their job if you use them.

Step 5: Fermentation

After 24 hours, seal the fermenter with the lid and airlock. The airlock lets gases escape while keeping air out. Place the fermenter in a cool, dark place. Fermentation can take anywhere from a week to a month, depending on the fruit and temperature. Check on it occasionally to make sure everything is going smoothly.

Step 6: Secondary Fermentation

Once the bubbling slows down, it’s time to siphon the wine into the secondary fermenter. Be careful not to disturb the sediment at the bottom. Attach the airlock to the secondary fermenter and let it sit for another few weeks to a few months. Patience is key in making homemade wine!

Step 7: Bottling

When the wine has cleared and fermentation has completely stopped, it’s time to bottle. Sanitise your bottles and siphon the wine into them. Cork the bottles and store them in a cool, dark place.

Step 8: Aging

The final step in making homemade wine is ageing. While it’s tempting to pop open a bottle right away, letting the wine age for at least 6 months will greatly improve its flavour. Some wines may benefit from a year or more of ageing.

Tips for Successful Homemade Wine

  • Patience: Good things come to those who wait. Rushing the process can result in a less-than-ideal wine.
  • Cleanliness: Always sanitise your equipment thoroughly.
  • Experimentation: Don’t be afraid to try different grape varieties, or even other fruits, and try altering sugar levels to find your perfect blend.
  • Record Keeping: Keep notes on your process and measurements. This way, you can replicate your successes and learn from any mishaps.

What Determines How Strong the Alcohol Is in Homemade Wine?

The alcohol content in your homemade wine is primarily determined by the amount of sugar present during fermentation and the type of yeast used. Here’s a breakdown of these factors:

  1. Sugar Content
    Sugar is the fuel for the fermentation process. Yeast consumes sugar and converts it into alcohol and carbon dioxide. The more sugar available, the more potential alcohol can be produced.
  2. Yeast
    Different strains of yeast have varying alcohol tolerances. Some yeast strains can only ferment to a certain alcohol level before they become inactive. For example, typical wine yeast strains can tolerate up to 14-18% alcohol by volume (ABV).
  3. Fermentation Conditions
    Temperature and fermentation time can also affect the final alcohol content. Warmer temperatures generally speed up fermentation, but if too high, they can stress the yeast, leading to incomplete fermentation. The ideal temperature for most wine yeast is between 15 and 24°C.

How to Adjust the Alcohol Content in Homemade Wine

Adjusting the alcohol content in your homemade wine involves managing the amount of sugar and choosing the appropriate yeast. Here’s how you can do it:

Increasing Alcohol Content

  • Add More Sugar: If you want a higher alcohol content, you can add more sugar to the must (the mixture of fruit, water, and sugar) before fermentation. However, it’s important to do this in moderation and gradually, as too much sugar can overwhelm the yeast.
  • Step Feeding: This technique involves adding sugar in stages during fermentation. Once the initial sugar is fermented, you can add more sugar in increments, allowing the yeast to process it gradually.
  • Use High Alcohol Tolerant Yeast: Choose a yeast strain that can handle higher alcohol levels. Some yeast strains are specifically bred for high alcohol tolerance and can ferment up to 18% ABV or higher.

Decreasing Alcohol Content

  • Use Less Sugar: To make a wine with lower alcohol content, simply start with less sugar. This limits the amount of alcohol the yeast can produce.
  • Dilute the Must: You can also dilute the must with water to reduce the concentration of sugars, thus lowering the potential alcohol content. However, be mindful that this can also dilute the flavour.
  • Monitor Fermentation: Keep an eye on the fermentation process using a hydrometer. Once the desired alcohol level is reached, you can stop the fermentation by moving the wine to a cooler environment or by adding a Campden tablet to kill the yeast.

Using a Hydrometer

A hydrometer is an essential tool for measuring the specific gravity (SG) of your wine, which tells you how much sugar is in the must. By measuring the SG before and after fermentation, you can calculate the alcohol content.

  • Initial Specific Gravity (SG): This measurement is taken before fermentation starts and indicates the amount of sugar in the must.
  • Final Specific Gravity (FG): This measurement is taken after fermentation has completed. The difference between the initial and final SG can be used to calculate the alcohol content.

Alcohol by Volume (ABV) Calculation: ABV = (Initial SG – Final SG) x 131.25

Common Questions About Making Homemade Wine

Q: Can I use any fruit to make wine?
A: Absolutely! While grapes are the most common, you can use apples, berries, peaches, or even exotic fruits like mangoes and pineapples.

Q: How strong will my homemade wine be?
A: The alcohol content typically ranges from 10-15%. Using a hydrometer will help you measure and adjust the strength.

Q: What if my wine doesn’t taste good?
A: Don’t panic! Sometimes a wine just needs more time to age. If it’s still not to your liking, use it for cooking or try blending it with another batch.

If you’re looking to buy winemaking grapes to make your own wines at home, get in touch with us for quality supplies.