Are you looking for an easy way to make wine at home but you don’t have any winemaking equipment? Here’s an easy homemade wine recipe using common items that you already have around the house. Winemaking at home is easy with our beginner’s guide to making wine from fruit juice.
How to Make Homemade Wine the Easy Way
If you’re new to making wine, a quick and easy method is making wine from fruit juice using frozen juice concentrates. Simply check in your grocer’s freezer section to find a wide variety of frozen juices. This recipe can be adjusted for any type of juice or juice blends.
It’s fun to experiment with different flavors, but if you do, always make sure that you like the taste of the juice blend itself before you try to make it into wine. If it tastes bland or strange as juice, it will taste even more so once it becomes wine.
Check the ingredients list for preservatives. If it has preservatives, it won’t ferment. If it doesn’t ferment, you won’t get wine.
Another thing to check for is chemicals. You want a juice concentrate that is 100% juice. Some juices have added vitamin C (ascorbic acid). This will work fine. Try to avoid any other chemicals for a better tasting wine.
Making Wine from Fruit Juice
- 1 – 6 ounce can frozen grape juice concentrate
- 1 – 6 ounce can frozen apple juice concentrate (or juice of your choice – I like blends.)
- juice of 1 large lemon
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 package of wine yeast (Montrachet or champagne) or 1 teaspoon bread yeast
- 1 gallon water
- Clean gallon jug or bucket
- Balloon or plastic wrap and rubber band
- Funnel (if you’re using the jug)
- Something to stir with
- Plastic tubing or a turkey baster (if you have them). If not, don’t worry about it.
Bring the water to a rolling boil, then turn off the heat and let it cool down to room temperature. Now you’re ready to begin making wine from fruit juice.
Choose the Proper Container
When making wine from fruit juice, always start with a very clean jug or bucket. A gallon milk or water jug will work and so will a clean cheap plastic bucket.
Avoid containers that have held anything toxic. We’re trying to make wine here, not poison. And especially, don’t use anything that has held vinegar unless you want to make more vinegar.
Smell the container before you start. If it smells like soap, your wine will taste like soap. Sometimes rinsing the jug with a bit of baking soda and water can remove lingering food fragrances. Be sure to rinse again with clear water before you start making the wine.
To make sure all smells are gone, let it dry completely and smell the container again. When you can’t smell anything, the container is good to make wine.
Adding the Juice and Sugar
Put the thawed juice concentrate and fresh lemon juice into your container. If you’re making an all grape wine, you can leave out the lemon juice. If you are using different fruits, the lemon helps to bring out the flavor as well as giving a nice edge to the wine.
Add the sugar to the juice. Stir or shake well to dissolve the sugar. The sweeter the fruit juice and more sugar added, the higher the possible alcohol content.
Adding the Water
Add the previously boiled water as needed to fill up the gallon jug, but make sure to leave about two inches on the top. This gives the wine a bit of headroom for fermenting. Mix well.
If you are using a milk jug or jug with a narrow mouth, place a balloon over the opening and anchor it with a rubber band. Poke a few holes in the balloon with a needle or pin. Stick the balloon down into the jug.
If you are using a bucket or wide-mouthed container, cover the opening with plastic wrap and secure with a rubber band.
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Put the container in a warm, dark place for 24 hours before you add the yeast.
Can You Use Regular Yeast To Make Wine?
Wine yeast can be hard to find unless you order it online or are lucky enough to be near a brewing supply store. It’s worth the trouble to find it. It makes a much better tasting wine and it works better when making a higher alcohol content wine.
However, you can use regular bread yeast but it won’t taste as good. I’ve made juice wine with both and while the wine yeast version is far superior, the other is still drinkable. If you’re merely experimenting with winemaking and just want to make something to give you a buzz, regular yeast will do it.
Checking the Temperature
In case you weren’t able to wait 24 hours, make sure the water and juice mixture is near room temperature before adding the yeast. If it’s too warm, it will kill the yeast and not ferment properly.
Check the temperature by placing a few drops of the liquid on the inside of your wrist (sort of like checking the temperature of a baby bottle). If it feels hot to your skin, it’s too hot for the yeast. If it feels comfortable or cool, then you can add the yeast.
Sprinkle the yeast over the top of the mixture. Put the cover back onto the container.
Put the container in a warm, dark place to ferment. A closet or the bottom of the kitchen pantry should work fine. If you don’t have a darkened place to put it, wrap it in a towel or something to protect it from light. This helps to preserve the color of the wine.
After a few weeks, check on the wine. If you’re using the balloon, the balloon will be inflated if the wine is still fermenting.
If you’re using a container, move the container slightly. If bubbles come up to the surface, then it is still fermenting and you might leave it be for another week or so.
Racking the Wine
If it seems to be done or you don’t want to wait, then it’s time to rack the wine. There should be a layer of sediment on the very bottom of your container. This sediment is what is left over after the yeast eats the sugars from the liquid. Racking the wine is removing the wine from the top without stirring up the sediment on the bottom.
There are a couple of ways to do this. The easiest is to use a few feet of clear plastic tubing.
The Tubing Method
To use the tubing to rack your wine, place the jug of wine on a countertop. Place the second container on the ground (if you have a long tube) or in a chair beside the countertop (if you have a really short tube.)
Put one end of the tube into the wine being careful not to disturb the sediment on the bottom. An accomplice is very handy at this stage in the preceding. Take the other end of the tube, and keeping it down below the level of the jug of wine, then siphon the wine into the other container and allow the wine to drain. Stop siphoning as the wine level gets to the sediment.
The Turkey Baster Method
If you don’t have any tubing, a turkey baster can accomplish the same thing. It just takes a bit longer. If you’re using a bucket, the top several inches of wine can be scooped off with a cup (carefully to avoid stirring up the sediment). The remaining wine can then be removed with the baster.
If you don’t have any tubing and don’t have a baster, all is not lost. In this case, carefully and slowly pour the top of the wine from the jug. Get as much of the clear wine out as possible, then let the remainder settle and try again.
You can also try to strain any cloudy wine with cheesecloth or coffee filters but I haven’t had any luck with that. My solution for the remaining cup or so of cloudy wine is to pour it up and let it settle out, then drink it. Be prepared if you try this. It will taste very green. Wine gets better with age.
Once you have racked the wine, you can go ahead and drink it as is, or you can let it ferment out some more. Generally, the longer you age your wine, the better it will taste. Just put a new balloon or plastic wrap cover over the container and let it set for another month or so, then rack again.
How Do You Know When It’s Finished Fermenting?
It’s finished fermenting when you tap the edge of the glass and no bubbles appear. However, this is not a hard and fast rule. Fermenting can stop or slow greatly due to fluctuations in temperatures.
A cold spell can slow fermenting, while a sudden warm-up can kick start it once more. This can lead to blowing corks in bottled wine, but you shouldn’t have that problem if you’re using the balloons or plastic wrap.
And there you have it, a cheap and easy way to make wine at home with very little money and no fancy equipment. Once you’ve tried making wine from fruit juice, then try your hand at making wine from fruit, flowers or even herbs. With a little imagination and experimentation, you can create your own wines to enjoy for years to come.