The Redneck Wine Makin’ Guide (or “how to make wine on the cheap”)

I aint one of them Vintners. This here’s about how to make good wine as cheap as possible and without all of the fancy schmancy tools that folks’ll tell you that you gotta have. If yer lookin’ for a Vintner’s Guide to Premium Vintage Wine yer Google search has failed you and you should try again. Also, reckon I don’t know it all. I’ve only got one batch done so far but it turned out some awful good. I’ve talked to a lot of old folks that’ve been doing it this way for years and I wanted to share what I had learnt form’em.

Getting started
As I’ve said, you don’t need all of that fancy stuff to make wine. Folks was making good wine for 5000 years or so before anybody thought about inventing a hydrometer to measure specific gravity. Now, I reckon if you want to make the same wine repeatedly so’s that it tastes exactly the same every time you might need that stuff but, on the other hand, maybe you don’t. It don’t matter though ’cause most of us are really only looking to turn that bumper crop of fruit into something other than preserves. This year it might be blueberries, next year it might be strawberries, or peaches or watermelons or or figs… whatever we have extra of. Heck, if you aint got extra fruit you can even make the stuff outta flowers…. I aint kiddin! You can! Ever heared of Dandelion wine? You think that’s made outta grapes? Nope.

I decided that I don’t need all of that high dollar stuff and I aint gonna buy it. Still, you gotta have SOMETHING to make wine in. I personally got me a 5 gallon glass jug for makin’ wine. You can use whatever you have handy. The jug that I got came from a wine making store and costs about $30.00. You can use an old water cooler bottle or even a bucket from Home Depot or somethin’. I mean, really, folks used to make this stuff in clay pots. Don’t get overexcited about how you aint got a new fangled carboy fer the fermentin’. So, that’s what you need… something that’ll hold a few gallons of juice. The return that you get will be a little less than what you start with but not much So, figure on losing a bit but for the most part if you want a gallon of wine you want a gallon jug… call it a 1:1 ratio… the scientific notation oughta be somethin like (1 = (1-li’lbit)). Ok, ok, sorry ’bout that… I didn’t mean to get all technical. Now whatever you use has gotta be sealable but we also need a way to vent gas out of it… we’ll talk about that in a while, for now just remember to get the lid when you get the bucket.

All right, so we have us a container. We’re gonna call that the fermenter just to be high minded about it all. Other things you’ll need is a siphon hose, preferably one that aint been used for stealing gas out of mama’s car. I use two dollars worth of rubber hose from the Home Depot store but you can use an old piece of water hose if you want. You’re also gonna need some yeast and a buncha sugar. The yeast can be anything from specialized wine making yeast to bread yeast. Heck you can even use wild yeast but that’s a little harder. Look, I’m gonna be straight with you. The wine making yeast is better for what you want but honestly yeast is yeast. If you want to use a packet of mama’s Fleishmann’s yeast that’ll work well for you. Just get ready for her to be mad the next time she goes to make some biscuits.

You’re also gonna need somethin to ferment. It really don’t matter what…. strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, figs, watermelons… whatever you got. Just don’t steal it. You can get in trouble over that kind of stuff. That said, stolen fruits make the best wines… Whatever you get you’re gonna need a lot of it. I mean more than your granny can eat in a sitting. Like 10 lbs or so. Since I made strawberry wine, I’ll go with that recipe here but I’ll tell yah what I did to get started. I went down to the grocery store, found the fruit they had on sale that day and bought 10 lbs of it. That happened to be strawberries so that’s what we’re using.

Figure on using about half the weight of fruit in sugar. Just so you don’t gotta do math, that’s 5 lbs of sugar for 10 lbs of fruit. Little more won’t hurt, little less probably will.

Keepin’ it clean
Now, I reckon the most important thing you gotta do is keep everything clean. The big thing that can go wrong with wine making is to get a little distracted and swerve into the vinegar making lane. A little bit of nastiness and you’ll end up with vinegar faster’n your sister’ll fall for a GI. So, how to avoid it? Clean your stuff. Now, real wine makers… err ‘scuse me… vintners have all kinds of high dollar cleaners for this purpose. Don’t worry about that stuff. Just pass by the laundry room and grab a bottle of Clorox and go to work cleaning your stuff. Clean everything… fermenter, hose, jugs, funnels, everything. If your wine is gonna touch it, get some bleach on it first. It don’t take much… just a tablespoon or so in a gallon of water and go to work on it. If it’s clean you’ll be fine. If it aint, you’ll make some fine, fine vinegar.

Stompin grapes
Look, we just went through cleanin’ everythin’. Don’t go stickin’ yer nasty feet in it. Take the strawberries and hull them… that means get yer pocket knife out (clean it!) and lop off the green bit at the top. Rinse it off and toss’er in the bucket. Repeat that until you’re done with all 10 lbs. If you’re using a bottle or a jug like I do you might have to cut it up a little more to get it in. That’s fine. In fact, it’s better, if you’re using a bucket you can give the strawberry a good squeeze to mash it up a little before you throw it in. You don’t want strawberry soup but the more you break it up the better. Once you get that done, add enough water to get the batch up to 3 or 4 gallons. The more water you add the weaker your wine will be but you’ll need at least 2 gallons or so. Add in about 5 lbs of sugar. Stir it good so all the sugar is dissolved and not just sittin’ the bottom. For not so sweet stuff, add a little more sugar, for really sweet stuff add a little less. Once the sugar is dissolved add in about two tablespoons of lemon juice and stir it good. That’s it.

Let’er sit
Once you get everything in your bucket… I mean, fermenter… just let it sit overnight. Now, everything you’ll ever read about wine making will tell you to add 2 or 3 crushed campden tablets. You can get these at the wine making store or you can go without them. I use them myself sometimes if I’m being particular about a batch but as long as you’ve kept everything clean you should be ok. Anywho, let’er sit overnight. Don’t need to be long and you can probably even skip this step but I like to let things “rest” over night and since I’m writin’ this just do it. Besides, you’re gonna be tired after all that washin’ and hullin’ and choppin’ and such. Take a break.

Gettin’ the bugs goin’
Next day take yer yeast and add it to some warm water. For anything less that 5 gallons or so just use one packet or a tablespoon or so. No need to be particular about getting it exactly right. It works pretty much the same way as makin’ bread. Water about 75 or 80 degrees, stir the yeast in and let’er sit until it starts making bubbles. Once you’ve got bubbles goin’ in the yeast just dump’er in your fermenting fruit and stir it good. If you’re using a bottle or jug just cap it and give’er a good shakin. Leave the top off and cover your fermenter with something. Cheesecloth works great or a towel… whatever you got. You just wanna keep the flies out of it. You’ll want to leave it like this for a while. Just walk by every day or so and give it a good stirrin’ (or shakin’) to keep things going.

Keeping it going
Yeasties need air to get going but after a while the air starts to work against them and you have to get it all out. I waited 10 days for this (mostly because I was on vacation at the time and didn’t get back. How long you wait before taking the air out is science. Most recipes will tell you how many days you need to wait or the Specific Gravity of the wine… since we don’t do SG measurements, here’s the trick. When your wine starts to smell like really strong beer it’s good to go and can be airlocked. Now, the yeast are really working and putting off a lot of gas. You can’t just seal up your fermenter and leave it because the dang thing will eventually explode from the pressure of the gas the yeast are putting off. That can be kinda cool to watch but is really counter productive in the wine makin’ process. So, here’s the trick: you gotta make an airlock. The idea behind an airlock is simple, it allows gas (from the yeast) to escape but doesn’t let air back in. You can buy an airlock that’ll work fine at the wine makin’ store for cheap… less than a dollar… or you can make your own. To make your own you just punch a hole in the fermenter, figure out a way to attach a hose to it and then stick the other end in a glass of water. How you go about attaching the tube to the lid of your fermenter is up to you but 30 minutes in the Home Depot store and you should be able to figure something out. Whatever you come up with has to be airtight. If you’ve got it right you should start seeing bubbles coming out of the tube in the glass after a while. As long as it’s making bubbles it’s makin’ wine… just leave it alone. You can take a quick peek every once in a while but mostly you want to keep the air out of it so leave the lid on it.

Cleanin it up
After another week or so the strawberries will start to bleach out and get kinda white. It’s time to get rid of them. When you’re ready to do that, get yourself another container… shoulda bought two of them buckets… and clean it with bleach like before. Rinse it out good and then use your hose to siphon the juice out of your fermenter. Don’t worry too much about getting little bits of strawberry right now… you just want to get as much of the juice out as you can. Once you have all of the juice siphoned out just throw the strawberries away. While yer at it you might notice that things are really cloudy… that’s ok, we’re gonna fix that. You can either wash out your fermenter bucket and pour your juice back in or just continue the fermenting in your new bucket. Either way works. Whatever you do, get the airlock back on it as quick as possible. From here on out you want to avoid moving, shaking or stirring the fermenter. The idea is to let all of the cloudy stuff settle out. It should get back to fermenting and making bubbles pretty quick. Let it go for another two weeks or so without moving it and then repeat the siphoning process. This time filter it through some cheese cloth (or one of mama’s dish rags) to catch all of the strawberry bits that you missed last time. You’ll notice a lot of white stuff on the bottom, that’s the dead yeast that’s making your wine cloudy and settling out. When you siphon it you want to avoid sucking that stuff up. It’s ok if you get a bit of it but you want to leave most of it on the bottom of the bucket/fermenter. From here on out you can start tasting your wine to see how it’s going. If it tastes really sweet let it keep working. If it takes like it’s got too much alcohol in it just water it down a bit. Here’s the trick though, while the yeast are working any sugar you add to it will get converted to alcohol. So don’t go addin sugar to it to make a sweeter wine cause that’ll keep getting converted until you’ve got something that’ll knock yer prom date completely out. Just let’er keep going until all of the fermentation stops. You can tell because it’ll stop makin’ bubbles in your airlock. Once all fermentation has stopped then you can add more sugar to the mix and make it sweeter. Do this one cup of sugar at a time. Add a cup, stir it in good, wait a few days to see if fermentation (bubbles) starts up again. If it does, let it finish again, wait a few extra days and then try adding another cup of sugar. When you can add sugar to the wine without restarting the fermentation it’s done and you can add as much sugar as you want to get it as sweet as you want. Let it sit for another week or two until things start to clear up again… siphon the wine off of the dead yeast and keep going. 3 or 4 weeks at a time until it’s as clear as you want it. Pretty much any time after a month or so you can sneak a little nip here and there. It won’t be as pretty as a store bought wine until everything settles out but it’ll be as good as it gets.

You can get wine bottles and corks at the wine makin’ store, but you don’t need’em. Wine will keep just fine in pretty much any container as long as it’s air tight. I use one gallon glass jugs but you can use anything. My uncle uses left over 2 litter coke bottles to store his. Works fine, tastes fine. No need to get snazzy with it, anything with a screw on cap will work.

Once you’ve got’er all bottled up the easy part is over and the hard part begins… waitin… Now, here’s the thing about agin’ wine. It WILL get better the longer you wait… up to a year or three… BUT unless your gonna enter this stuff in the county fair contest why would yah? It’ll be plenty good right out of the bottle and if you’re the one drinkin’ it AND you like it… why the hell wait? My wine ages in the bottle while it’s waiting to get drunk. If I take a nip and think it’s good for drinkin’ it gets drunk…or I do… but the point is, aging wine is for making the wine good enough to drink not for the sake of aging it. If you like it drink it. If you think it needs more time, wait. Simple, like that.

Is it dangerous?
Nope, not a bit. There aint much that you can do to wine that’ll cause it to make you sick. Now, granted it goes to vinegar and you drink it you’ll spend some time heaving but that’s to be expected and it won’t hurt you… much. In general though, if you can force it down, it won’t hurt you.

What about vinegar?
If it goes to vinegar then you’ve made vinegar. There aint no gettin it back. Just throw it out and start over. That’s one of the things that all of that scientific fancy stuff is trying to avoid. Still, as long as you don’t care about losing a batch every now and again it’s no big deal. If you keep things clean like I told yah then you won’t have this problem anyway. Just step around it, clean things better next time and make another batch.

Just pickin’
I reckon I’m pretty hard on them Vintner fellers here. That’s because some of them are pretty hard on folks who don’t wanna follow the high dollar path. They speak of vintages and years while we speak of “damn, that’s good!” That’s ok. What they do is really cool. They put a lot of work into getting wine just so and making sure that it comes out that way every time. They get the most bang for the buck… and they use cool tools to make it happen. I’m good with that, it’s a hobby or a job for most of ’em and it’s important to ’em. That bein’ said, it’s not a crime to do it the old fashioned way. To get good wine out of left over fruit and to enjoy it out of a dixie cup instead of a wine glass. They’re makin’ one thing, we’re makin another. That’s all there is too it.

357 Responses to “The Redneck Wine Makin’ Guide (or “how to make wine on the cheap”)”

  1. Nathan says:

    I understand the process of weighing fruit, and using half the weight in sugar. but would you do the same for honey, or would you measure it differently? i also read a different recipe that didn’t call for sugar, and instead said that the honey added enough sugar on it’s own. mind you, that was for mead, and not actual wine. but i was hoping to try a honey/blueberry mix, or a honey/mango mix. so, any advice on either of those?

    • jinksto says:

      Mead is wine… it’s just honey wine. :) Mead is, in fact, one of my favorites. I don’t add extra sugar to it as the honey provides more than enough. If you’re mixing it with a other fruit the honey should provide more than enough sugar. Especially with really sweet fruits like blueberry and mango. I haven’t tried Mango but I would expect that it would add an excellent flavor to your mead. Definitely keep notes on the recipe that you end up using and share it with us please.

  2. Travis says:

    hello, I’m making strawberry wine, 5 gallons. I add the yeast yesterday and still haven’t seen any bubbling. I never could get it to bubble before I added it either. will it take awhile sometimes? I used a yeast called premier cuvee by Red Star.

    • jinksto says:

      Try again with a different package of yeast. Put it in a warm cup of water and wait for bubbles. If it doesn’t start bubbling in the cup (it might look like a light froth) it’s probably a bad batch of yeast.

  3. texsunshine says:

    no i didn’t add any acid. The strawberry and watermelon had the same off smell and taste. Could camden tablets cause a chemical smell and off taste?

    • jinksto says:

      campden tablets can cause that but usually not in the very small amounts that we would use (1-2 tablets). My guess is that you’ve introduced some sort of bacteria in racking but it’s tough to say.

  4. texsunshine says:

    Thank you so much jinksto, appreciate your quick reply.

  5. Biggin says:

    Started16# muscadines, 6# sugar, 3 gals spring water on Sept 2. Stired once a day til Sept 7 (had to leave for a few days). I noticed some fruit on top and some on the bottom of the bucket about 1/2 & 1/2 while discarding the fruit. Siphoned and strained off 3 gal juice into another bucket. It didn’t taste too bad either at this point. Airlocked it in a glass jar with holes in the lid. It’s been bubbling every 3-5 seconds since the 7th.
    So should I just let it keep doing it’s thing or is there anything else I need to do to it till it quit bubblin’ .
    When can it be tasted?
    How do ya go about checking alcohol content?
    How do ya go about raising or (god forbid) lowering it?
    Also I went to one of those wine/beer/whatever else ya want to make stores and damn you talk about confused, they just as soon dropped me off at political convention. No wonder so many people like this site! This one guy ( just starting out my butt

    • jinksto says:

      Yes, let it keep fermenting until it stops. Once it stops wait 2 weeks (or longer) to ensure that there’s no more fermentation. If you get a LOT of sediment on the bottom you can rack it again but mostly I just let it go.

      you measure alcohol content with a hydrometer. you can order one from amazon or any wine supply house.

      To raise the alcohol, add sugar. At some point though the alcohol will kill your yeast and it’ll stop going up. At that point you’ll need to start using champagne yeast but even with that there’s a practical limit.

      To lower alcohol content you do it the same way you used to when you nipped a bit too much from dad’s moonshine jug… add distilled water. This will, of course, dilute the flavor.

      Yeah, that’s the reason I wrote this page. There’s a lot that you can do with wine… but there’s also a lot that you don’t have to do.

      Good luck!

  6. Biggin says:

    Sorry about that. This guy sounded like he was making rocket fuel for a computer.
    The guy behind the counter actually understood what he was talking about. He just smiled and laughed, when I asked and told him about what, and how I was attempting to do and said, “Good luck with that”. Now I finally understand why my wife “doesn’t care for me going outside of my element” as she puts it. Needless to say she picked me up a couple of new bigger buckets, plastic airlock thing, strainer and a couple of books the other day. I think I’m going to try that recipe that GA Boy was trying sounds good .

    • GA Boy says:

      I just tasted it and it’s got a little zing to it! Nice and sweet but the alcohol sure lets you know it’s there afterwords. Gonna strain it out again (think it’s called racking? Idk) either tonight or tomorrow, gotta track down some cheese cloth.

      • jinksto says:

        Excellent! Keep it clean!

      • Biggin says:

        I was wondering if I could pick your brain on how your making that peach strawberry wine you’ve got going? Did you just pull skins off peaches and mash em up and what yeast did you use?
        I just tasted that muscadine I’ve got going and it’s a little dry yet sweet and it’s got that alcohol zing to it. That’s about the same thing our resident wine tasting expert said, followed by : How much of that are you going to have? Going to try to round up some peaches before they’re gone.
        Thanks for any info you can share.

        • GA Boy says:

          Sure not a problem! I started out with 6.5 lbs of peaches and 2 lbs of strawberries, cut the tops of the strawberries and halved most of the bigger ones. Then I sliced the peaches and cut off any of the inside near the seed that I didn’t like the looks of (black stuff) and tossed everything in a homer bucket skins and all. I just kinda mashed it up with my hands a little bit not a whole lot and I used fleischmanns rapid rise for yeast. Mine tastes a little dry as well, a good sweet start with a dryer finish and then the alcohol hits the back of your throat. I just racked it last night and it started movin the airlock pretty good again so obviously it needs more time. If you have anymore questions just let me know, this is my first batch ever so I’m still learning

          • Biggin says:

            Sorry to bug ya again.
            Thanks for the info, it’s the first time I’ve done this also.
            Did you use those camden tablet things or not? I didn’t use them cause I was in too much of a hurry to get started I guess.. Everything seems to be working fine for now. I also used the same yeast for the same reason, in a hurry.
            Thanks again

  7. jinksto says:

    The wife and I are off on a vacation until the 28th. If someone asks a question and you know the answer please feel free to answer for them. I’ll catch up as quickly as I can when I’m back!

    Good luck to everyone that has a batch in progress!

  8. Biggin says:

    Jinksto gave me some instructions back on august 31st (check out older comments) and so far everything seems to be doing fine. The instructions are per gallon.

  9. lee says:

    Had a batch going it bubbled good for about two weeks the just stopped what do I do now when I racked the muscedine off is when it stop bubbling

  10. Biggin says:

    Made a batch a few days back: 7# peaches, 2# strawberrys 5# sugar4 gals spring water, stired it once a day for 5 days, removed fruit, strained thru cheesecloth and siphoned intobucket. Got 4 gallons and air locked it thursday afternoon. It bubbled approx. every 3-5 seconds Thursday evening thru Friday around noon when I had to go out of town. I got back Saturday around 11:30/ 12:00pm Saturday and it’s not bubbling, in fact the bucket lid looks like there is no pressure on it at all. Is there anything I can do to get it going again? I also used flieshmans yeast and cleaned the hell outof eveverything including the stirring spoon. Should I try straining/ siphoning again or what? I don’t want to lose this bstch if at zll possible. It tasted pretty good during the siphoning stage!

    • jinksto says:

      What does it taste like?

      • Biggin says:

        Kinda weak peach flavored , didnt taste like vinegar yet. I check seal every thing is holding and was bubbling great when I left. Got back and no bubbles. The muscadines are still bubbling about every 17- 20 seconds. Should I try addind more sugar? Only thing I different was I used a sanitizer instead of clorox water to clean strainers bucket hoses I even cleaned the airlock jar just cause it was there

        • jinksto says:

          Adding more sugar won’t hurt. It’s possible that the yeast has consumed all of the sugar so adding more might kick it off again. I like sweet wines (though I don’t drink :) ) so if it fails to restart it’s no problem for me usually.

          • Biggin says:

            Should i strain it again (rack it I think that’s what y’all called it) and add sugar? How much? I think you had mentioned something about racking it or adding suger could possibly get it to start up again in some of the older comment sections. How about yeast?

          • jinksto says:

            Siphoning it off of the lees (stuff that settles out) is called racking. If there’s not a lot on the bottom it’s not worth it. It will sometimes cause fermentation to restart but it’s usually not a good way to force it.

            If you add sugar just add a small amount so… a half pound should do it. I wouldn’t add more yeast. If something caused your yeast to die, adding more won’t help as it’ll die too.

            Another thing to check is to verify that your airlock is sealed good. I recently had a batch “stop” early but then discovered that the airlock was leaking so I just wasn’t getting bubbles.

  11. Biggin says:

    Thank You
    I appreciate all the time, effort and help.
    I’ll check it out tonight and see how it does.

  12. Montana Man says:

    I started a batch last month with 21 lbs of red plumbs and 12 lbs sugar my first time ever. I racked it tonight for the first time to get the plumbs out and tasted it WOW it was very tasty with a kick in the teeth afterwards. I added more sugar to make it stronger so I can water it down later and increase my stash

  13. terri meinders says:

    okay this is what I did about 13 pounds of grapes added 6 pounds of sugar and about a 1/2 gallon of water. stirred it up twice a day to make it angry. on the 7th day I strained it out of my covered lightly bucket and put it into a 5 gallon water container, I had a lil air pump lock thingie (whatever its called) that allows air out but not back in. heres the problem been since yesterday like 24 hours and no bubbles. it had a great alchohol smell and was doin fine. ooooooooooo btw in the 5 gallon water gallon container I figure theres a gallon and a half of juice. will it take a while for bubbles or did I screw up? any help is greatly appreciated.

  14. Andrea says:

    I am an amateur at making wine. However, I followed a no-yeast recipe (see recipe here After completing the step adding sugar and allowing the mixture to sit in a dark cool place for a week (recipe says 3 weeks), I decided to check on my wine-to-be. There is an ugly mold on top. Should I throw it out and start over or is there something that I can do to save my amateur batch? The recipe that I used did NOT call for any chemicals. I wish that I could upload pics of my brew. Woe is me.

    • jinksto says:

      Just scrape the mold off and filter the wine again… Does it smell like alcohol?

      • Andrea says:

        Yes, I can smell a hint of alcohol. It has only been stored for a week now. I will scrape it off and filter again as recommended. Should I use cheese cloth or coffee filter paper?

        • jinksto says:

          I only use cheese cloth so cant say. Either should work fine.

          • Andrea says:

            Alright, I have scraped off the mold and refiltered the wine and stored it in an airtight container in a dark cool place. My question is, will a hydrometer tell me if my wine has turned to vinegar (which is NOT what I’m trying to make)? Or is there any other way to tell other than the taste test? I can’t really go by color because I used plums. Thanks.

        • jinksto says:

          There is a process that uses an acid test kit to test for vinegar production but it’s fairly complicated and not terribly accurate. A quick taste is the best way to test it.

  15. Biggin says:

    Howdy Jinksto
    Well I don’t know how the peach strawberry gonna turn out cause it’s quit bubbling again. Tasted it and kinda taste real weak with an alcohol kick to it. Gonna (already did) add some sugar too it, if nothing else try to sweeten it up some. Ya have any other idea’s

    • jinksto says:

      the fruit flavors usually aren’t real strong for most things. I like to use raisins in many recipes because they push a good flavor through to the final product.

  16. Travis says:

    would I use the same procedures for grapes as you did for strawberries in this article?

  17. Biggin says:

    Well we just put the muscadines in quart jars (12) and an old gallon jar, 4 gals. total. It’s not as sweet as it smells and dang it’s got a kick to it. For a first effort I don’t think it’s too bad could be a little sweeter but our resident wine tastin expert ( she likes wine a little stronger)says that she’ll definitely require at least a gallon or so for a proper taste analysis.
    Thanks again for all the help.

    Oh by the way, the peach/ strawberry ain’t too bad either. Just letting it set for a bit after racking(?) It don’t have the kick to it the other one does but it’s a little sweeter.

    • jinksto says:

      That’s excellent! Thanks for sharing. Fall is here… that means lots of fresh fruit around. See if you can do it again.

      • Biggin says:

        Already tryin to think of what I want to try next. I’m going to try strawberry or something a little sweeter but not too sweet. You previously mentioned something about raisins adding too or helping with flavor.Down here in the texas hillcountry who knows what we’ll come up with.
        . Ya know come to think of it we got a 65+year old kumquat tree thats loaded with fruit (stil green).

        • jinksto says:

          For Kumquats try this:

          slice the Kumquat fairly small, at least quartered but more if you can. It’s hard because it’s small fruit but as small as possible.

          For every heaping cup of fruit add:
          1 cup sugar
          1 cup water
          1/4 cup crushed raisins You just need to break the raisins up. I run them through a food processor which works but the results are umm… unappealing…

          See this for a discussion of raisins :) :

          Other than that, just add yeast and follow the method that you’ve been using and you should get something fairly good.

          • Biggin says:

            I checked the story regarding honey wine and raisins and that’s some funny you know! I’ve been looking for a copy of the book but haven’t found one yet, probably gonna have to order one I guess. The honey raisin ( mead) recipe sounds like something I might try out. Thanks also for the kumquat recipe, when they get ready i’ll give em a try.

  18. van says:

    a plastic 5 gal waterjug is a lot lighter than a 5 gal glass one. plus, you can get one with a handle

    • jinksto says:

      It is true that they are lighter but not significantly. You can also buy handles that attache to 5 Gallon carboy’s to make them much easier to handle.

      • van says:

        not tryin to be critical, just pointin out some ideas for the shut-in folks out there. but i gotta thank you for this blog, it inspired me as to finding a solution for too many watermelons and not enough belly. it’s workin along just fine, and the house smells like big red sodapop

  19. van says:

    one question for ya: i guess either the room got a little too warm or the yeast i used kicked into high gear, but my fixins is about to come out the top of my bottle ‘ceptin i keep slowlytiltin and twirlin it. any suggestions?

    • jinksto says:

      The best thing you can do is celebrate. Good foam production means the yeast is rocking and the CO2 in the foam is keeping bacteria out. This is good. If you have it airlocked you’ll need to clean the airlock regularly. You can catch spillage on a cookie sheet. As it spills, the volume in the fermenter will reduce and it will eventually stop.

      As an alternative to an airlock and to prevent spillage you can switch to another method of airlock. Replace the airlock with a hose to the top of the fermenter and then run that hose into a quart jar half filled with water so that the hose is underwater in the jar. This creates an airlock on the fermenter but allows you to catch any overflow in the quart jar which can then be emptied and refilled regularly.

      Make sense?

  20. van says:

    yup thanks bud i just wasn’t sure about losing any of my production. i kinda figured this would be a good problem vs the opposite situation. thank you for the prompt reply.

    • van says:

      since thiis was the first day of fermentation, i was hesitant to hook up the airlock; i thought the yeast needed more o2 or the “must” would get sucked though my hose but so far the only thing coming through the hose and cup of water is air. and it’s bubblin like a hot tub!

      • jinksto says:

        Happy to help! Let us know how it goes.

        • van says:

          well, after the fermentation seemed to stop, i pulled a quart off for testin purposes. turned out pretty dadgum good. it’s still a little cloudy and has a slight taste of yeast, but it also has a nice crisp taste on the tounge and a good kick that comes later. I imagine it’ll get even better in time. can’t thank you enough for the insipration. really folks, this is a simple operation.

          • jinksto says:

            Thanks for the feedback! Over time the cloudiness will settle out. Just let it sit for a while and then siphon it off again. It will eventually become totally clear.

  21. amso says:

    My son has an abundance of grapes this year. We have been processing them in our steam juicer, canning the juice. We now have more juice than the whole extended family can use. I want to turn some of it to wine. How do I get started?

  22. sarah says:

    I racked some bottles of Dandelion wine one and half years ago. It was high alcohol and very dry. I have to sweeten it. If I open the jars and bottles now and close them up will they get bad or turn to vinegar if I rebottle them in non steralized bottles. Wouldn’t the alcohol kill anything now? I opened a couple about a year ago just to sample. nothing had happened. I just reclosed them ( canning jars and corked bottles)thank you.

    • jinksto says:

      That’s certainly not the “preferred” way of doing things but it should work OK. Just accept that you might lose some of them. I’d be very careful about adding sugar and then resealing the jars/bottles. If fermentation restarts (it shouldn’t but…) in one of them you’re in for a show (and a mess).

      Maybe try it with a couple and refine your technique as you go.

  23. Mike Winfrey says:

    This is my first attempt at wine making and have an observation. I put the yeast in my fruit solution on Saturday morning. 48 hours later and it has a strong beer smell already. Your article mentions a week or so for this to occur or at least that’s what I read. So, I’m wondering how this sounds to you. should I let it go a little longer or airlock it now? I’m tending towards taking your instructions literally and even though it’s only been 2 days, airlock it because of the smell.

    • Mike Winfrey says:

      I went ahead and airlocked it. Producing a lot of bubbles. This is a good science project with my grandsons. They think it’s cool and so do it.

      • jinksto says:

        good call. different solutions progress differently. Many times I will airlock immediately if I’m sure I’ve got a good batch of yeast. Once it’s going good it’s best to get an airlock on it early.

        Let us know how it goes. It’s a great project to do with the kids!

    • Mike Winfrey says:

      I used green table grapes instead of strawberries. I failed to tell you that earlier. You say “After another week or so the strawberries will start to bleach out and get kinda white.” That’s very plain but wondering how that applies to green grapes and other fruit. When do I get rid of the fruit that I’m using ?

      • jinksto says:

        It really depends on the fruit so it’s hard to say. There’s no hard and fast rule. The idea is to get as much flavor as possible from the fruit so when you think that’s happened remove it. 2-3 weeks is usually sufficient.

  24. Anonymous says:

    I made wine a week ago and just siphoned it into a 5 gallon bucket to airlock it. It tastes sour. Is it bad? Should I let it sit a few more weeks and taste again? It smells like rotten fruit but tastes like sour watered down fruit juice with alcohol. I used watermelons and afford and honey

    • jinksto says:

      Watermelon is one of the toughest fruits because it sours so quickly. Still, give it a week and see if it starts to smell better. If it gets worse chuck it out and try something without watermelon for your first go.

      Let us know how it turns out!

  25. Anonymous says:


  26. Anonymous says:

    Thanks. I just added “syrup” and I’ll let it sit for a week and try again. My husband had a glass last night and didn’t get sick so that’s a plus. Do you think it’s safe to drink if it’s soured? What’s the easiest fruit to use? I was thinking of trying pineapple or strawberries.

    • jinksto says:

      Safe? Sure, probably. Probably not very good though. :)

      Strawberries are pretty easy… and grapes, of course. Apple, peach, honey are all easier.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Hi! Been making wine for some years now and have been noticing that if I use a wine kit, my wine stays crystal clear. However, when I buy fruit and make my wine after bottling it and letting it sit for awhile it seems to get stuff in it again. Can you tell me why this is happening? I do filter my wine but no matter what, after sitting for a month or so, it seems to get stuff on the bottom and if the bottles are tilted it gets stuff where the bottle is laying down.

    • jinksto says:

      This is common to all wines… even commercial ones. The more time you spend on fining or finishing a wine the less sediment you will have. Don’t get in a rush to bottle wine… take your time and let more of the sediment settle out before bottling.

    • billybob says:

      I believe no matter how much you filter your wine you will have a few yeast dregs in the bottom . No harm, no foul, part of wine makin’. When I want to pour a very clear wine or mead I handle the bottle carefully, I pour off the top for friends and family.I remember for myself, the dregs off the bottom taste just the same as the rest of the bottle. Good Luck!

  28. billybob says:

    Happy New Year Everyone

  29. billybob says:

    jinksto, Thanks for having this site. This craft is new to us. Over the past 3 years we have learned much from everyone’s success’s and failures. We have had real good luck, Keep it simple. People have been makin’ wine for thousands of years, so can we. Thank You

  30. Joe-Lynn Staples says:

    I have had pears sitting in sugar since august. Is it usable?

    • Joe-Lynn Staples says:

      Smells fine. Pears are on top of the liquid and spongy.

    • jinksto says:

      I’m not sure I understand. Do you mean they’ve been in the fermenter that long? If so, yeah, it should be fine as long as it doesn’t smell of rotten fruit.

      Just drain the liquid off and continue along.

  31. Joe-Lynn Staples says:

    Poured sugar on and neglected it until now. Perfectly sealed pail

  32. Joe-Lynn Staples says:

    I haven’t added anything. Just sugar and pears. Bought campden tabs but not sure where to go from here

    • jinksto says:

      I’m totally guessing here but if it don’t smell bad it can’t hurt to give it a shot. Here’s what I would do:

      Add water until you have 2/3rds water and 1/3rd fruit.
      For every gallon of water you add, crush and add one campden tablet.
      Add 1 lb raisins for every 5 gallons total volume (water and fruit)
      Add Juice from 1 lemon for every 5 gallons total volume
      Stir gently.
      Let sit 24 hours.
      Add 2lbs of sugar per gallon less what you’ve already added (if you remember)
      start and add 1 packet of yeast and airlock it. Lalavin D-47 is a good one but whatever you can get will be fine.
      Wait, 7 days.
      Rack (siphon) it off of the fruit and put it back under airlock.
      Rack it again every 30 days or so until clear.

      Again, I’m totally guessing but if it smells ok it should be fine. Good Luck! Let us know how it goes… really interested in this one.

  33. Luciana says:

    Hi folks, if you wanna lose some pounds you should search in google – weightloss
    it’s good point to start your fight with fat

  34. billybob says:

    I did not want to hijack your site, but I hate spammers and had to reply. It made me laugh, but I know the spammer will never be back to read it. I was wondering if you have had experience with low temp wine and mead fermenting. We have had some of both fermenting for over two months, still working, just very slow. We may get one bubble through a commercial air lock every couple minutes, carboy temp is about 55. Smells great still workin and we are not in hurry. Any thoughts? Thanks, Billy

    • jinksto says:

      It made me chuckle. I edited the spam post to make it useless to him and removed his link.

      All of our fermentation is done on the kitchen counter at 68-72 degrees. I’ve never done anything colder. As long as it’s bubbling it’s working so there’s nothing to do but wait. That said, Mrs Jinksto was looking at plans for a root cellar last night so doing something like that might be in the my future. Let us know how it turns out.

  35. Dana says:

    awesome tips and ideas ,only made wine from kits…my next batch will be from scratch.
    thanks again .Dana

  36. Brittany says:

    I started a batch of strawberry wine yesterday. Seven lbs of berries, 5 lbs of sugar and 2 gallons of spring water. Let it sit over night and just added a packet of yeast. Mixed the yeast in a cup of lukewarm spring water then poured in it and stirred. That was about 4 hours ago and there is really no bubbling going on. Should I add more yeast?

  37. Brittany says:

    I haven’t looked at it all day. Gonna check it when I get home. Thanks for the reply. This is my first batch ever so I appreciate the advice.

  38. Sheila says:

    I really don’t know anything about wine, but I sure appreciate your instructions which make me want to try my hand at a batch or two. I have a jug of dandelion wine that my grandfather made over 40 years ago. I want to open it and my question is..after I open it and if it is good, what is the best way to store it? Refrigerate it, dark cupboard at room temp, etc. it is in a clear jug. Thank you.

    • jinksto says:

      I keep mine in a dark cupboard and it keeps for months. Every wine will be different though so there’s no best practice that I know of. Putting it in the fridge will ruin it pretty quick I think.

  39. Anonymous says:

    I would like to know if the water used is supposed to be boiling or just room temperature. All the recipes I’ve seen have called for boiling. I have never made wine and would like to give it a try. I want to use this method and just want to be sure to do it right. Thank you,J.F.

    • jinksto says:

      If yer using a particular recipe just do what it says. I sometimes boil the water and sometimes don’t. If you’re worried about it go ahead and boil it but let it cool before adding it to your fruit. It won’t hurt anything.

  40. Tim says:

    First of all…great site! Lots of good comments and questions. Before I knew about this site last year, I made home-made wild blackberry wine and some wild muscadine wine. I was told that the fruit produced its own yeast, so I didn’t use any and it both turned out wonderful. Did everything else pretty much the same as you. Is there any advantage to using the yeast? I know you will say, “if it was good, you did it right.” But would like to know if there is a beneficial reason to use the yeast. Thanks and keep it up.

    • jinksto says:

      Good question! Thanks! There are a couple of benefits to using purchased yeast. 1) you get a certain start where natural yeast might or might start before the fruit begins to rot. 2) There are a ton of different commercial yeasts that have different alcohol tolerances and flavors. Using purchased yeasts allows you to specifically target a flavor or repeat something you liked. Natural yeast my be of different strains so you might get different tastes every year.

      That said, using natural yeast is a great way to go… so, yeah, “if it was good, you did it right”. :) :)

      Thanks again for yer question.

  41. mindy says:

    Im a noob and just started my first batch of watermelon wine today.
    I noticed in a previous comment that you said watermelon spoils quickly. When should I siphon the liquid off the fruit?.

    • jinksto says:

      Just a day or two then strain it out and press as much juice as you can back into the fermenter. You can even do it without using the fruit at all. Just run it through a juicer or press the juice out by wrapping the fruit in cheese cloth. You might also give it the juice of one lemon to get add some acid.

      • spanky says:

        Hey thanks for the good site . I made some wine from crab
        apples an it turned out good . I used_bakers yeast an it came out fine

  42. spanky says:

    Sorry bout the technical difficulty . but as I was saying bakers yeast works just fine just keep running through cheese cloth. That is
    allmy daddy has ever used an he has made a good bit . Getting ready to start some strawberry an will let u know how it’s going an again thanks for the great site . SC. redneck!!

  43. spanky says:

    Jinksto do you know about making wine in glass gallon jugs with a balloon.on top as the air locck. my uncle did it like this but he is gone an i never. asked. but would like to no for small batches .thanks again for great site.

  44. Ron says:

    If using watermelon juice only (no pulp) do I add water to mix.if so what ratio.and just saying love ur site

  45. spanky says:

    Thanks for information . an quick reply. thanks SC.redneck

  46. I am making strawberry wine and attached the airlock yesterday but so far no bubbles. I saw a post on here of the same problem and followed advice using another yeast and poured on top the berries a couple of hours ago with no bubbling yet. Do I dump it or is there something I can do? I haven’t tasted it. Thank you,Jeannette F.

    • jinksto says:

      don’t dump it. You can starting a new batch of yeast to add to it if it still tastes sweet.

      • I added another package of yeast and put the top back on it with the airlock and I see no visible bubbling. Should I remove the fruit and add some yeast? I have not tasted it. Thank you for your attention and advice.

        • In my question above I mis-spoke, I meant to ask,should I add sugar after removing the berries and see if it stats to bubble.

          • jinksto says:

            Did you have any action at all before it stopped? It’s possible that the yeast has converted all of the sugar but not usually without you knowing it’s happening. Tasting it is the best way to test. It doesn’t take much, just a drop on your tongue.

            Are you starting the yeast properly? Add the yeast package to a cup of warm water (80* F) and let it start bubbling before you add it to the must.

  47. I just tasted the wine and the fruit has mold on and it tastes like vinegar so I figure I’m dead in the water. Thank you for your help . I am going to try and figure out what I did wrong. It is the first time I’ve tried to make wine from fruit. I did some dandelion wine and it turned out very good. At this point I will stat over.

    • jinksto says:

      If it tastes like vinegar you’re right. It’s no good. It’ll do a really great job cleaning the toilet though. I’m sorry you lost a batch but that happens sometimes. Stick with it!

      As an aside, mold doesn’t always mean you lose the batch. if you have good fermentation and alcohol it doesn’t hurt anything. Most of the time you can ignore it and it’ll get filtered out during racking. Vinegar though… nothing.

      Good luck!

    • jinksto says:

      If it tastes like vinegar you’re right. It’s no good. It’ll do a really great job cleaning the toilet though. I’m sorry you lost a batch but that happens sometimes. Stick with it!

      As an aside, mold doesn’t always mean you lose the batch. if you have good fermentation and alcohol it doesn’t hurt anything. Most of the time you can ignore it and it’ll get filtered out during racking. Vinegar though… nothing.

      Good luck!

  48. phoenix says:

    I have never made wine but I want to and i have a ton of fresh wild rasberrys can you tell me the easiest. Way to get good sweet wine

    • jinksto says:

      Sure, just use the method on this page and when the wine is completely done with fermentation pour about a cup of wine off and mix it with a half cup of sugar. Pour this back into the fermenter and wait to ensure that fermentation doesn’t restart. Repeat this process every few days until the wine is where you want it.

  49. wurdywoman says:

    This is inappropriate for this website. Please, no advertising.

  50. jinksto says:

    Deleted. Thanks!

  51. jinksto says:

    I deleted the spam message. Thanks for calling it out, I had missed that one.

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