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

Disclaimer:
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.

Bottling
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.

Aging
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.

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

  1. Ga girl says:

    Oh yes! I have given several away! I love making things and giving away

  2. Herman George says:

    Well just started 4 gals. Picked 5 gals muscadines crushed for jelly and saved
    The leftover mush for wine , though I would try your recipe.
    Time will tell.

  3. Mark says:

    You could make Champagne too!!! I use empty 2 litre bottle of soda. Clean em reel good….1 1/2 cups o sugar…1 litre of 100-110 degree wata, 3/4 litre of yer favorite juice.. but NOT jucy juce that stuff is real bad for chamapgnia, 4 teaspoons of Yeast. shaker up real good..throw it in da fridge.. leave the lid REAL LOOSE and in 8 days..run her through the cheese clocth or dish rag and SHABAAAM! you’all can get-r-done. drunk up real good. I like to use apple juice with a handfull of raspberries caus ethey fit in the top o da bottles w/o much effort or you could Blueberries…W/E you use its gonna be better den da wine cause it only takers 7-10 days !!! da hell wit dat 1 month wine crap i wanna get drunk now!!! Good Luck and Happy ferminten…Yeah what he said

  4. Coty says:

    I might have to make use of the extra strawberries, raspberries, and apples this next year, I mean there is only so many you can eat so why not just drink the rest in the orchard.

  5. b.d.king says:

    When your waiting for wine to clear up do you keep it air locked or not???

  6. Ellen says:

    I leave the airlock on just in case there may be slight fermenting going on. It won’t hurt the wine; however, if you close the fermenter and there IS fermenting going on, I would not like to have to clean up the mess.

  7. A.W. says:

    Thanks for the Recipe, Friend. Us Rednecks in Show Low Arizona, Thank You. Just Finished a 90 proof Orange and Grapefruit Blend. It does well over Ice or In Iced Tea.

  8. Anonymous says:

    what is the old way of manufacturing wine

  9. charlie b says:

    I used 5 lbs strawberries, 11oz blueberries(average square box from walmart, half a lemon, about 3 1/2 gallons of wate, and 5 lbs sugar dissolved in warm water to cut down on mixing and a pack of wine makers yeast. Ya think I got enough fruit or should I add some more? Just got it going this evenin.

  10. Matt Gilbert says:

    Sounds like a lot of ya’ll are having pretty good success with making wine with other than grapes. My hat’s off to ya!!!!!

    For years, I’ve always made good wine with 100% Welches grape juice, Fleishman’s yeast, and sugar.

    So, as I posted here last year I gave a few tries with various other fruits I found discarded behind the grocery store, still edible, albeit ripe. I tried a version with bananas, then with plums, and my last attempt was with pears.

    None of them turned out well. In fact the pear batch had a really strong vinegar smell, and I had mad several large containers full.

    However, not all was lost, as vinegar is an excellent toilet bowl cleaner. I poured a gallon of my pear vinegar into a severly neglected toilet, it looked REALLY bad, if you get my drift, and let it alone overnight. The next morning, I flushed it and scrubbed it out and that was the whitest and most sparkling toilet I’ve seen in a long time, and I didn’t have to go and buy any expensive cleaners to get it done.

    So, take heart, if your wine project(s) fail, you’ll at least have some good toilet bowl cleaner, just leave it soak overnight!

    • jinksto says:

      It takes all kinds I reckon!

    • mc says:

      If your fruit wine is all failing you are either not keeping clean enough. other thing to remember is you are trying to replicate what grapes do naturally. Grapes have tannins in their skin that help i the chemical process. Most other fruits do not have this so you need to add some. If you are adding this also ad acid blend. neither of these are not expensive and we make your next try a good one. I have home brewed for over ten years and have not had vianager yet. my time will come…Im staring ten gallons apricot raisin this weekend.

  11. ntystar says:

    i cooked 2kg of grapes into 2 lit, i put ‘m into water plastic jug, I add one liter of warm water to about 0.75kg of sugar, i add the 1 tea spoon of yeast, then i covered the jug with plastic tape, attached water hose to let air out, as u said, i leave them for 8 days till now, now the bubbles stopped, the grapes became white, is there is any mistake in this method?? do u think it is the time to siphon the wine into new jug? or it better to wait until 2 weeks.

    thanks

  12. wurdywoman says:

    On 02-20-14 I started a batch of mango/blueberry and it is still producing slow bubbles. When is this going to be done? Is there any way I can stop it or do I just have to wait? It is clear as a bell and a beautiful color (that’s why I add the 1 lb. of blueberries) and I want to bottle it.

    • jinksto says:

      You can use campden tablets to stop fermentation and then add potassium sorbate to stop it from restarting. However, this isn’t really what this page is about.

      It’s really better to just be patient. If you can’t though there are tons of resources on the internet about how to stop fermentation (though they will all tell you that this is a bad idea).

      • wurdywoman says:

        Thanks for the quick reply. I kinda knew this would be your answer…….so I will be patient. I think psychologists might recommend winemaking to their patients who have no patience LOL. I will let you know the magnificent results of my endeavor (whenever that is).

  13. wurdywoman says:

    I would like to share my latest success. I believe the success is, in great part, due to the fact that I worked with only sterilized equipment at all times.
    On 02-20-14 I dumped 7lb. squashed mango and 1 1/2 lb. mashed blueberries into a mesh bag (helps with the clean-up) and added 5lb. sugar & 1 pkg (5g.) Lalvin wine yeast. I added purified water to bring the fermenter up to 5 gals
    On 2-21 added 1 more yeast and covered the fermenter with cheesecloth. Many bubbles ensued and I put on airlock.
    On 02-24 at 2:30 pm racked to a carboy after pulling out the mash. Installed airlock on carboy and added more water to bring it up to 20 L.
    On 03-02 at 3:40 pm added 1 more yeast and racked to clean carboy.
    On 3-10 at 12noon racked again because I am bound and determined to have a nice clear wine this time.
    03-15 still slightly active.
    This batch finally stopped being active at 4:00 pm on 05-13-14 and I have bottled, corked and labeled 22/ 750ml bottles of beautiful clear pink wine. The color came from the blueberries and that’s the only reason I added them. This is a nice dry wine but I think I will eliminate the third pkg. of yeast next time.

  14. karen says:

    Man , i dont know where you are from, but after reading hunnerds of wine makin site i finally got it… thank you!!!

    • jinksto says:

      Jinksto lives in North Carolina. Glad it’s working for you. :)

      • Anonymous says:

        Got a question, my grandkids brought me a bunch of table grapes, kinda smell like vinigar but not quite, can i use them to make wine or wil it go straight to vinigar? Thanks a bunch. I am from oklahoma and you speak my language… :-)

        • jinksto says:

          As a guess I’d say, probably not. Once vinegar starts there’s no recovering from it. It’s a chemical process that changes the structure of the wine.

          • Anonymous says:

            Thanks a bunch. Thinking bout trying watermelon. They are being sold on the side of the road now..any ideas or just follow your previous steps?

          • jinksto says:

            Watermelon spoils quickly and can result in a weak wine if the source watermelon isn’t the best you can get. Don’t use watermelon pulp as with other fruit wines, just squeeze the juice out of it and only use the juice. Add lemon Juice (about 1/2 lemon for every 2 gallons) to bump the acid content. A fast champagne yeast will help get the alcohol content up before the juice spoils. Use 5-7 lbs of sugar for each 2 gallons. Other than that, good luck!

  15. chris says:

    so i forgot to add lemon juice. its been goin for 3 days then just added it. will that be a problem?

  16. Yarrow Mary says:

    JINSKO- You’re the” my-kinda-people-down-home-bomb!” I am so excited this NC country-girl gonna finally have a BIG wish come true by makin’ Watermelon Wine thanks to you! Maybe sippin’ MY VINTAGE by Halloween! Woo-Hoo! Thank ya deeply! I am a do it my own self kinda gal. (Yarrow Mary on Facebook)

  17. Garrett says:

    Blackberry wine. Any ideas? Have about 2-3lbs of wild blackberries and think they need to be turned into wine. I have 3 and 5 gallon glass carboys airlock cheese cloth yeast just about everything but scared to waste good fruit. Please help!!!!

    • jinksto says:

      Blackberry wine is pretty nifty.

      For 2-3 lbs of berries use the smaller carboy

      Gently crush the berries and place them in your carboy. Go easy with this step, you don’t want to crush the seeds as they have a lot of tannin and will make things better.

      add 1 gallon of water and 2lbs of sugar.

      Blackberries can have a lot of natural yeast so if you have a campden tablet crush it and add it to the must. Wait 24 hours and then add your yeast.

      When fermentation has almost stopped add taste and add another half pound of sugar if needed. This may restart fermentation to a small degree. Just repeat the process until you have what you want.

      • jinksto says:

        By The way,

        Rack the juice off of the must 7-10 days after adding the yeast. You want to get those seeds out as quickly as you can.

  18. April Wine says:

    Been doing alot of research on wine making for months. Kept running into those folks that do the fancy wine making from kits , and add all kinds of stuff I’m not intrested in putting in my wine. We just wanna make simple good wine without all the fancy gadgets and addatives. This article is exactly what we were looking for. Got all we need , fruit ,sugar , water,yeast ,buckets, jugs, sheer old curtain ,and and hose for airlocks. So excited about starting our fist batch of wine. Thank you so much for your article. We did buy campden tablets , just cause every one said it’s not a bad Idea. And we will be using mason jars for the final product.. Yep we’re that kinda people ! Again Thank you. This is awesome !

  19. Joe-curious says:

    I’ve really been wanting to make some good wine, but was wondering if it would be ok to distill it for something a lil stronger. If so do I need to skip any steps or add any to the process. Don’t know if u tried just wonderin

    • jinksto says:

      Distilling wine into Brandy should be fine. Some people report sulpher tastes if you use campden tablets but others say it’s fine. That would be the only step to skip. Otherwise, just make good wine and distill it.

  20. Anne wheeler says:

    What about a recipe for watermelon wine? Did I overlook it?

    • Ellen says:

      wurdywoman says:
      July 11, 2012 at 10:03 am
      At noon on June 7th I dumped the pulp of 2 seedless watermelons, 10 lb. of sugar, 2 tbsp lemon juice and 2 gals of purified water into my primary 7 1/2 gallon fermenter (bucket). I let it rest overnight for 10 hours and on June 8th I added 2 pkts wine yeast (started) and one small box of raisins as a nutrient for the yeast. 12 hours later I put on the airlock. 7am on June 9th I removed the pulp and racked from the fermenter to a clean 6 gallon carboy. Bubbling nicely! At 1:30pm added 1 more cup of sugar.
      June 21 at noon added 5 campden tabs, 1 cup sugar and 2 qts water when bubbles were about 15 seconds apart and now waiting or new or no activity.
      June 27 at noon racked to new clean carboy and replaced airlock.
      July 1 noon racked to new carboy – getting much clearer and fairly potent.
      July 9 at 6pm soaked corks for 1 hour and used auto-siphon (I love this thing) racking cane to fill 16-750ml and 3-1.5L bottles. It’s all at 16% and have been sipping some. I want to thank you for the many tips I took from this blog. I hope others will have better fortune with their watermelon wine. I made watermelon rind pickles and now have watermelon pulp in the freezer for my next batch of wine. Need more bottles first.

  21. valerie bona says:

    MADE APPLE WINE IN A BOTTLE AND PUT IT IN THE CLOSET. IT SEEMS LIKE ITS NOT BUBBLING. DID I DO SOMETHING WRONG. DOWN FOR 2 DAYS NOW.

    • jinksto says:

      Add another packet of yeast to try again. Just make sure you “activate” it in warm water and let it sit in a cup for a bit. If the yeast in the cup doesn’t start bubbling after a bit you may have a dead batch and need to purchase newer stuff. Good luck!

  22. Donna says:

    My hubby and my sister-n-law just started the plum wine today. I hope it works because the last to batches where vinger. I am trying to get them to do it your way. I think they are going to try it. Keep your fingers cross that they will not mess up the batch..

  23. ncbulldogs says:

    I started a small batch of peach/watermellon today this is the first site that did not have a bunch of complicated steps I hope it turns out well thanks for the tips on not needing all the fancy stuff.

  24. Linda says:

    Thanks so much for such simple directions. Have you ever made it with wild yeast? Harvest time usually makes all our money go into lids and sugar. I figure you would just cover it with a cheesecloth, and wait for that stage where it smells like strong beer, then proceed as normal, right?

    • jinksto says:

      That’s the theory. I’ve never done it using wild yeast since the commercial yeasts are just a few cents per package. You have the right of it though… leave it unairlocked until you have good fermentation going and then airlock it.

      That said, it can take a lot longer for Indigenous Yeast (that’s what the fancy folk call it) to get started and that leaves more time for bacteria to start in on spoilage.

      THAT said, I’d never recommend that you not try going completely natural if you understand the risk of failure. If you’re good with losing a few batches to figure it out then I’m good for helping in any way I can.

      Good luck and let us know how it goes!

  25. ncbulldogs says:

    Well im not sure if I did something wrong but I now have my fermenting container airtight I am ising a tube and mason jar of water tube Is sealed well but so far no bubbles. Any ideas on what might be up it was fermenting well it seemed before I sealed it up. Thanks for any help.

    • jinksto says:

      How much are you fermenting? If it’s a small amount and you had good fermentation going you may be fine. Give it a taste and see what you’ve got, if it takes like wine, go with it. If it tastes watery and not sweet try adding a bit of sugar.

  26. ncbulldogs says:

    Just startrd with about 2 gallons this is my first attempt so I did not want to waste to much ill check it out n grt bak to ya n a bit. Thanks

  27. ncbulldogs says:

    Well I tested it reluctantly n its plenty sweet n strong like when u take a good sip of liquor strait frm the jar n it doesnt taste bad. So I guess I did smthn right. Now should I store in fridge n mason jars or warm place still? I dnt want it to get much stronger or someone will have a really bad hangover.

    • jinksto says:

      Congratulations, you made wine. :) If you have good alcohol content you don’t need to refrigerate it just store it at room temperature. See my comment below about siphoning it off and give it more time to clarify.

      Keep notes. Change things as you learn.

      Well done!

  28. ncbulldogs says:

    Ok sorry other than storing in last comment I forgot I dnt drink much wine its actually too sweet guess I forgot how sweet the watermellon plus the sugar would be but its def not vinegar so any cure for to sweet? And should I jar it n leave n cabinet or fridge? Thanks again.

    • jinksto says:

      The only cure for sweet is more yeast. :) But, if the alcohol content is high enough it will kill off your yeast unless you use a high alcohol yeast like a Champagne yeast. If you’re happy with the alcohol content you can try again but use less sugar next time. Watermelon is hard because a lot depends on the sweetness of the fruit and that can vary a lot.

      I would siphon it off anything that’s settled to the bottom, clean your fermenter and then put it back under airlock for a few weeks until it gets more clear. Sometimes “racking” it like that will restart the fermentation which may help with the sweetness.

  29. huenorth says:

    After battling honey bees by the dozens, I picked enough ripe figs off my neighbor’s tree (hanging over the fence) for a gallon of fig wine. I sterilized everything but the figs. With all the house flies, fruit flies, honey bees, hornets, and other critters who love those ripe figs, should we worry about the sterility of the fruit? Great site. Thanks.

    • jinksto says:

      Figs are little harder. You don’t have to worry much about sanitation caused by insects as long as the figs aren’t really overripe. As long as they have good solid flesh you should be fine.

      * Freeze figs until well frozen.
      * chop frozen figs until fairly fine.
      * Place chopped figs in a nylon bag and tie top. Womens hose/stockings will work, or cheescloth bag. This aids clearing and keeps the fruit from clouding the wine.
      * Juice 1/3 lemon for acid

      * Place fig bag in carboy (tie a string to it to make it easy to recover)
      * Place lemon juice in carboy
      * Add water to carboy
      * Wait 24 hours
      * Start yeast in warm water and add to carboy
      DAILY:
      * Stir mixture GENTLY each day and express fig bag. Just lift the bag out of the must and allow it to drain with gravity and then set it back into the must

      On the fourth day:
      * Lift fig bag and allow to drain back into carboy. Discard the bag.
      * Siphon juice off of any lees (things settled to the bottom)
      * Place juice in a fermenting container and airlock (note this is only airlocked after the first racking)
      * Allow to ferment for 2-3 weeks and rack again.
      * Top the jug up with water after this second racking
      * After this rack the wine to remove settled particles once a month until it reaches a clarity and taste that you like.

      After you airlock it keep it airlocked.

  30. billybob says:

    We have been making mead and wine for a couple of years. We have always done it in gallon jugs and it usually takes 2-3 months to stop bubbling and we can bottle it. Just bought a couple of 5 gallon jugs. made a batch with our same mix and after three weeks of very fast bubbling it has slowed to a stop. Any ideas? does the fermenting go faster with large batches. It tastes great, so it make me think I can rack it once then bottle it. It sure seems fast to finish. Thank You for your great information, you inspired us to start this a few years ago. Billy

    • jinksto says:

      The wife and I just bottled a batch of mead that finished quickly in a 6.5 gal carboy. I let it set for several months after fermentation stopped but that was mostly because I was being lazy. It turned off a little sweeter than usual but we loved the taste so we called it finished.

      I’ve found that the amount of time the yeast have to work when doing it this way can vary a lot. Being a beekeeper as well I know that honey changes through the year so suspect that it can really depend on the makeup of the honey in your mead.

      At the end of the day, when we’re doing stuff the way we do you just go with the flow. If it tastes good, bottle it.

  31. Katharine says:

    Four questions:
    1. Why freeze the figs?
    2. My mom, who was a prize-winning wine maker, used to make elderberry blossom wine and I remember gallon jugs with small neck and balloons fastened over them. Was this a type of airlock?
    3. Why do some recipes call for the addition of raisins, and can than improve any non-grape wine?
    4. Can we sub vitamin C tablets or bottled lemon juice (which has preservatives)?

    Thanks!

    • jinksto says:

      1) Freeze them so that you can chop them without turning them into fig sludge. Also, it kills any insects or eggs that might have gotten on the figs. Probably not required.

      2) Yes, a balloon is sometimes used as an airlock and it works just fine. Note that her balloons had a pinprick in them to allow gas to escape. It’ll make for excitement if you forget.

      3) Raisins are used for flavoring to add “body” and (to a lesser degree) tannin. They also provide nutrients to help the yeast along. If your recipe doesn’t call for them they probably add tannin and nutrients in some other way.

      4) Lemon juice will work fine. You don’t need the Vitamin C. The Lemons are just for acid content to get the PH where it should be.

      • Katharine says:

        Thanks so much for the quick reply!

        Please note that when your comment subscription notice arrived in my inbox, the link was messed up and I got a 404. I might never have found this but for having the site still open in my tabs. Just for your info., it reads:

        An error occurred during a connection to jinksto.com. SSL received a record that exceeded the maximum permissible length. (Error code: ssl_error_rx_record_too_long)

        Okay, the balloons, I don’t think had pinpricks, because my mom did have excitement. but they were tied on tightly with string, around bottles with threaded necks. The instructions were that once the balloons expanded and then un-expanded, the wine was done? I was very little then, so may remember it wrong.

        And vitamin C is very acid (perhaps too acid?) and lots cheaper than lemon juice, but I think I will stick with the lemon, anyway. :)

        Thanks again, so much.

        K

        • jinksto says:

          by the way, the wife and I just started a batch of fig wine using this recipe. Let me know how yours works and we can compare notes!

  32. Paul Withrow says:

    yes i was wondering if i needed to make any changes to your recipe using fresh homegrown Concord Grapes?

  33. Kecia says:

    Here is what I’m confused about. I’m making a batch of blackberry wine (just started, never made wine before). Clearly I can’t sterilize the blackberries (can’t rinse them with soap, can’t bleach them) so why all the fuss about sterile equipment? Your equipment can be as sterile as can be but then you dump those berries that have only been rinsed with water into the production – not sterile anymore!

    • jinksto says:

      Correct. There’s only so much that you can do but you should do all you can. :) Fruit tends to have natural protections from bacteria but your equipment doesn’t have that. As you can see, I’m all about simplification but some things just need to be done.

      Thanks for the awesome question.

      • Kecia says:

        But wouldn’t your fruit’s natural protections protect them from any residual stuff that was on the equipment? I picked the fruit into non-sterile buckets and stored it for a day in the fridge with non-sterile bowls, then just dumped it into my bleached crock. Seemed silly!! I hope I don’t end up with vinegar. We’ll see how it goes. Some recipes say to skim the top each day – do you not recommend that? Some with no yeast in the recipe even say you have to peel off a layer of mold or mildew at some point. Just wondering whether to “skim” or “not to skim”… Thank you! I like your page – very entertaining.

        • jinksto says:

          Most wine recipes call for adding a lot of sugar and things like lemons that change the PH of the must. This gives bacteria a great place to grow so you want to eliminate anything that you might introduce from your equipment.

          As for skimming, you should follow the advice of the recipe that you’re using. I normally don’t do it unless I think it’s needed. Normally if I think I need to skim something off I’ll rack it (siphon the juice from the bottom) instead.

          I really hope your wine turns out too! Let us know how it goes!

  34. lisa says:

    Since grapes skin keeps from spoiling. Could we just add some grapes an not have to worry about spoiling no matter what fruit?

    • jinksto says:

      I don’t think science works that way… Still, I’m not one to discourage experimentin’. Have a go and let us know what happens.

      The short answer is, no, I don’t think it’ll help. It all seems like a long way to go to avoid keepin’ your kit clean.

  35. Biggin says:

    Just got thru picking approx 18 lbs large muscadine grapes . I’ve never wrote into one of these or tried making wine before but what the hell figured let’s give it a try. Found your page so I guess i’ll stop by the depot tomorrow pick up a couple of buckets with lids and some vinyl tubing on the way home tomorrow. I ain’t kidding, I’ve never tried this before so any advice would be greatly appreciated, hell if it doesn’t work out according to some other fella it’s damn good toilet cleaner.

    • jinksto says:

      Muscadine wine:
      6lbs fruit per gallon of wine.
      2lbs sugar per gallon of wine

      stem and wash the fruit,
      crush the fruit in your bucket
      Add sugar and enough water to top up the bucket
      Activate the yeast by adding it to warm water and then pour it into your bucket

      Cover the bucket lightly with cheese cloth or a loose fitting lid (no airlock)

      Stir every day for 1 week.

      After 1 week, siphon/strain the fruit out and discard it. Top the bucket up with water again and add an airlock

      Do not stir again.

      After six weeks siphon the wine off of anything that’s settled out of it and repeat until happy.

      Generally follow the directions above and let us know how it turns out!

  36. Kecia says:

    I ordered my wine yeast and campden tablets at the same time. About one day before the yeast and campden were supposed to arrive in the mail, I put my berries / sugar / water / lemon juice together to sit for a day. The yeast arrived the next day and the campden didn’t. After 3 days of waiting for the campden I finally decided I would just make a go of it with no campden (I was afraid to let the mixture sit any longer without yeast). The yeast has now been in for 3 days and my campden just arrived. I know the campden can (or will) kill the yeast so I am wondering – do I just keep fermenting without the campden or would it be better to put in campden, then add another packet of yeast when the campden is done? Thank you!!!

    • jinksto says:

      Nah, at this point your yeast will be well ahead of any wild yeast that the campden is supposed to kill. Let it go!

      Let us know how it turns out!

      Many times I don’t use campden at all just because I like to keep my wine as pure as possible. If it’s got a good start it’s fine.

  37. Kecia says:

    Great, thanks! It is bubbling and fuming away and has an appealing smell (no vinegar) so I’m hopeful at this point. This is fun! My Mom always made dandelion wine (picking a huge box of dandelion flowers each spring was a yearly ritual) and beet wine when I was a kid – at the age of 50 I’m finally trying it for the first time on my own. We lived in rural Montana so I am fairly certain she had no access to campden tablets, fancy yeast, etc. so I’m not going to sweat it….

    • jinksto says:

      Excellent! If it’s pleasing to smell it’s fine. :) Keep us updated on how it goes and feel free to ask if you get into trouble!

  38. Biggin says:

    Damn that was a quick response, thanks!
    How bout if I just picked up 4-1gal mason jars on way home?
    Thanks again

  39. Biggin says:

    Oh yea one more thing, gonna be going thru san marcos tx in next couple hrs and there’s suppose to be a new brewers place open there. ( Closer to home.) Gonna stop by if their open is there anything else I might need to get or check out?
    I really appreciate the time and Iinfo.

  40. GA Boy says:

    Hey, first off thank you very much for this write up! I am using your steps almost to a T! This is what I already got. 6 1/2 lbs of peaches, 2 lbs of strawberries, 4 lbs of sugar, all sliced up and mixed with 3 1/2 gallons of water. Added the yeast yesterday so today is day two. I have two 5 gallon glass jugs in case I don’t have enough room in just one for my mixture. My question is when is the right time to make the transfer and airlock it? I know you said when it smells like a real strong beer but I was wondering if you could elaborate on that some. I appreciate it!

Leave a Reply