How To Make Wine

Ready to learn how to make wine?

These next steps in the wine making process are pretty much the same whether you are using a wine making kit or making fruit wine.

How To Make Wine

Make sure all wine making equipment has been sanitized.   Go back to the first step of - Preparation and complete this step before you do anything else.

OK...Ready....Let's get to work.

Make a mark on your primary fermenter at the 5 gallon point. Do this by filling primary with 5 gallons of water, then discard water. Use tap or spring water. Distilled water is not recommended when learning how to make wine.

  1. Add about 4 inches of water to the fermenter, aerate the water by splashing or spraying.
  2. While stirring, sprinkle the Bentonite into the water.
  3. Pour in the juice and any residue that remains in package (if using a kit). If making fruit wine - go to the fruit wine instruction page for specific instructions. Keep stirring.
  4. Add water to primary fermenter to bring it to 6 gallons. Keep stirring.
  5. Make sure the "must" is between 65-75 degrees F. As the wine ferments, the temperature of the must can rise up to 10 degrees and if the must gets too warm, off flavors can occur.
  6. Use the hydrometer to check the specific gravity (SG). Make sure the hydrometer is floating and twirl before reading. The SG should be 1080 or higher. If it is below, have a glass of wine and then stir some more. Take another reading.
  7. When the reading is above 1080 SG, sprinkle on the yeast, fill the airlock with water 1/3 full, place airlock into the grommet in lid of primary fermenter. Place the primary fermenter in a 70 to 80 degree even temperature area. Within 24 hrs., the "must" should be fermenting.

(If you have a cat, it is NOT the cat making the noise you will hear at night! This is the most exciting part of learning how to make wine. This means your wine is "working"!)

Fermentation - part 3 wine making instructions

Within 24 hours after adding the yeast, fermentation (foaming) should begin. If it doesn't, don't panic. During cooler weather, fermentation takes longer. If you live in a cold area, during winter place a blanket around the fermenter. If fermentation doesn't start, add another package of yeast and a tablespoon of Super Ferment.(yeast nutrient)

On the third or fourth day of fermentation, take a hydrometer reading. The reading should have dropped from the first day. The specific gravity should keep dropping as your wine ferments. Check it every 3-4 days and keep track of your readings in a journal.

Most fermentation will take about 14 days. The time will vary depending on the temperature and how well the yeast is working. You should ferment your wine down to a specific gravity of 1.000 or lower. .990 is ideal. The lower the SG, the dryer the wine.

If you like a sweeter wine, don't panic, you can sweeten it after it clears and has stabilized.

Typical Specific Gravity readings for wine:
  • SG of .990 to 1.000 Dry
  • SG of 1.000 to 1.010 Medium Sweet
  • SG of 1.010 to 1.025 Sweet
  • SG of 1.025 and up Very Sweet

OK...this is the hardest part of following your wine making instructions. Waiting...and waiting...for your wine to ferment. Don't worry, you are about to taste the BEST homemade wine ever.....YOURS!!

Proceed to part 4 & 5...Racking (Clearing) Wine
Part 6...Bottling Wine
Part 7 ...Corking Wine
Return to Part 1...Preparation

You are in the "hurry up and wait" zone...but be patient. While you are waiting, let's anticipate what is to come. Go ahead and get your bottles and corks.

Figure out what kind of label you are going to use. Most wine making kits have stock labels (they cost extra) that adhere to the bottle easily. OR, you can go ahead and design a custom label.

Need a conversion chart?

Sometimes we are given amounts to add to a recipe and don't know how to convert dry to liquid and vice versa. Here is your own handy chart. Print it out and keep it nearby.

Conversion Charts for liquid and dry measurements



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