Homemade Wine: Tips For Getting It Right

glass and bottle of red wineIf you wish to make wine from juice at home, and get it right each time read the following tips and suggestions:

Follow Instructions

This may seem basic, but often wine kit instructions seem too long and complicated and there is an urge to simplify them or mix and match instructions from different books or wine making starter kits. This is a mistake because the instructions in the kit are based on winemaking instructions and empirical trials and deviating from them can not only lead to poor results such as the wine failing to ferment properly, you will also not be aware not to correct any mistakes you make. Using winemaking books to help you make wine is not a good idea if you are making wine from juice because these books are meant to guide those making wine from fresh grapes.


Cleanliness is one of the most important factors that influence the wine making process. Microorganisms, dirt or any contamination can alter the taste and the aroma of the finished wine by contributing unnecessary by-products and spoilage organisms during fermentation. In fact, 90 percent of wine making failures can be traced to inadequate sanitation or cleaning of equipment.

Use The Right Water

If water is fit for drinking, then it is fit for making wine. If the water is hard or of a high mineral content (in particular iron) it will interfere with the taste of the wine. When in doubt, using bottled water is the best idea.

Invest In More Sophisticated Tools

Apart from the basic tools such as siphons and hydrometers, if you invest in more advanced wine making equipment you will find that the wine tastes better and is easier to make. Some of these tools include:

  • A dairy thermometer: This ensures that you can keep track of the temperature during fermentation. The thermometer floats in the container and is an essential tool for anyone interested in getting the wine to taste just right. Keeping track of the temperature is helpful as yeast needs a fixed temperature – 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit in order to ferment properly. If it is too warm, the yeast dies and if the temperature is too cold the fermentation process considerably slows down. A thermometer will make sure that you provide the best conditions for the yeast cells to ferment.
  • A wine thief: This handy instrument allows you to take a sample of your brew for testing without needing to siphon or pour it from the container.

Stay Patient

The wine produced from home wine making kits can be bottled in about 28-45 days but they are not fit for drinking. The minimum time needed for a wine kit to taste good is one month, though the more time you wait the better. In three months the wine will show more of its character, though for majority of the red wines and most whites you need to wait for about six months to let the wine smooth out. For heavier reds, at least one year is needed. The more you wait, the more delicious the wine will taste when it is finally drunk.

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wine storage December 7, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Adding oak to your homemade wine can add a lot of complexity to the flavor profile.

I’ve actually started toasting my own oak. If you are lucky enough to have a link to someone who can supply you with pieces of barrels, you can too!

There are a number of ways you can toast oak. The idea is to put a light char on the outside, not a heavy charcoal look, just a nice light toasting. Study commercially prepared chips for the right idea. If you have a fireplace, use tongs to roast the fingers in the fire. A burner from a gas stove or camping stove would work as well. I’ve heard that you can do it in an oven at high heat, but I’ve never tried it. I would recommend against using barbecue coals (although a gas one would probably work) since it’s such a smoky heat.

I prefer to use a propane torch typically used for soldering plumbing. I just sit the bottle on a bench at a fairly low flame (make sure there’s nothing flammable nearby!!!). Using tongs, I toast the oak over the flame. I work slowly at the bit of a distance so that it doesn’t just quick burn but toasts somewhat slowly. When done, the oak should be evenly toasted on all sides..


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