Yes, it's possible to DIY homemade wine—but it will require time, space, and lots of patience. Here's how to do it.
Sure, it’s easier to go to the store and buy a ready-made bottle of wine. But any home wine maker will tell you that it’s incredibly satisfying to DIY your favorite beverage, and that homemade wine can be just as delicious as some of your favorite bottles sold in wine stores. It’s also not terribly difficult to make homemade wine. Keith Wallace, founder of the Wine School of Philadelphia and a former professional winemaker, is here to teach you how.
1. Gather your tools.
According to Wallace, you will want to round-up the following before you get started.
- 90 pounds of red grapes
- 10-gallon food-safe container with lid
- 5-gallon used whiskey barrel, or a 5-gallon food safe container with airtight lid
- Plastic milk crate
- 8-inch deep plastic food pan
- Plastic wrap
- 350 Campden tablets
- 5 grams’ wine yeast
- Liquid malolactic culture
- Bladder press—a 5-gallon size is best
- Spray bottle
- Large funnel
- 1-pound tartaric acid
2. Sanitize your equipment
“Crush and dissolve 85 Campden tablets in 5.25 gallons of water,” Wallace instructs. Add 1 teaspoon of tartaric acid, and fill your spray bottle and whiskey barrel with the solution.
You should also sanitize your 10-food safe container and lid, milk crate, and food pan.
3. Make a DIY home de-stemmer and crusher.
Place your milk crate upside down into your plastic food pan, and then press your grape bunches through the milk crate, disposing of the stems, Wallace says. Once the pan is filled, empty the contents into the 10-gallon food-safe container, “skins and all,” he says. “Repeat until all 90 pounds of grapes have been completed,” which should take about one hour.
4. Start the fermentation process.
“Pull out 1-cup of grape juice” from the container, Wallace says and swirl in yeast. “Let sit for two hours,” Wallace says, then “pull out another cup of grape juice. Crush four Campden tablets and add them into the juice. Next, “add the Campden juice immediately,” Wallace instructs. “Wait two hours before adding the yeast juice back. Close fermenting vessel and wrap top with plastic wrap to make an airtight seal.” Then, “ferment [the wine] for four weeks in a room set to 70 degrees F,” Wallace says. “Twice a week, open the tank and punch down grape skins for five minutes.”
5. Press your grapes.
Once fermentation is complete, “empty your whiskey barrel,” Wallace says. “Using the bladder press, crush grapes, [then] pour wine back into barrel using funnel.” Take a moment to taste your wine. “It will taste very bitter and tart,” Wallace warns. Then, “add malolactic bacteria and replace bung,” he says.
6. Age your wine.
Allow your wine to age. “Twice a week, roll the barrel to unsettle yeasts,” says Wallace. This practice is called bâtonnage.
“After performing bâtonnage, remove bung for 30 seconds to release carbon dioxide,” he says. And two weeks after that, you can start tasting the wine again. “It should start tasting much less tart, [and be] fuller in body,” Wallace says.
7. Rack it up.
After four weeks, taste your wine again. Now, it “should taste soft and delicious,” Wallace says.
Pour or pump your wine back into the 10-gallon plastic container. “Using a garden hose, clean out barrel,” says Wallace. “Make another batch of sanitizer, this time using hot water, and fill barrel for one hour. Then, empty barrel and pump wine back in.” Repeat this process for three months.
8. Get ready to bottle.
It’s finally time to bottle your wine! Crush five Campden tablets and add them to the wine, Wallace instructs. Wait 24 hours and then you can bottle your beverage—and drink it, of course!