Nov 2, 2007

Homemade Wine 101

I have never claimed to be a very sophisticated kinda gal....
Gourmet, I am not.....
When it comes to food I like good ole homemade stick-to-your-ribs comfort food.
When it comes to drink I like good old fashioned sweet tea, coffee, Chai Tea and Diet Coke.
(whenever I can make it into the city of course its Starbucks, Mocha Frappuccino, caramel macchiato, pumpkin spice Latte, sooo many yummy fattening drinks from there!)

And wine? well .. lets just say I'm a cheap wino. Now, don't get me wrong, I drink alcohol occasionally, like maybe once a month or so. I don't like beer, Mixed drinks are ok, but give me a glass of wine and I'm happy. Try as I might, I just don't like the "good stuff" The extra-dry expensive wines are wasted on me. Give me a good ole $6 bottle of sweet wine with a twist-off top and I'm good to go!

Even better than any store bought wine is homemade wine!! And today.. I'm gonna tell you how I make it! I started making wine 2 years ago. I bought all the books and all the "stuff" you need to make homemade wine and Homemade Mead. But I still found the whole thing pretty complicated, you had to add yeasts, and rennet tablets etc....

Then I stumbled upon what they call "Prison Wine" Prison Wine... that sounds easy enough! It sounded cheap.... I knew it had great potential. There are only three ingredients in Prison wine.


That's it!
Anybody can do that!!!
Here we go.

Homemade Wine 101...

Take a large (holds MORE than a gallon) container (I prefer Glass) with a snug lid (doesn't have to be air-tight as a matter of fact I like it NOT to be air tight, more on why later)

1 gallon water (I like to use 1 gallon cheap bottled drinking water)
6 Cups sugar
6 heaping cups prepared fruit
(prepared = picked through, washed, and cut into chunks, berries can be left whole)

***IMPORTANT!!*** you Must make sure your container is clean!! I wash it thoroughly then pour in one Teaspoon of bleach... fill it up with hot water and drain.
  • Dump 6 cups of sugar into your container.
  • Pour almost all of the gallon of water into the container.
  • Stir till sugar is dissolved.
  • Dump in your fruit chunks.
  • Wrap your lid/container in plastic wrap to keep out those pesky fruit flies!
  • Set your container on the counter, or wherever you won't forget about it. (NOT in direct sunlight or it'll wash out any color and get it too hot)
  • Stir and/or Swirl every day for 3o days (a little longer is fine its very forgiving just NO less than 30 days)
  • discard your fruit pulp and strain your wine (I use several layers of cheesecloth or a jelly bag).
  • Bottle or "Rack" your wine into CLEAN bottles, and let it set for at least 6 months in a cool dark place... this will make approx 6 bottles of wine.
  • Enjoy your homemade wine!!


The reason I don't use air-tight lids is the fact that your wine-in-the-making will be fizzy while it "cooks" and build up pressure. But the plastic wrap is very important!! Or you'll have to throw away your batch when fruit flies invade! (don't ask me how I know this)

There will come a time during the fermentation process when you stir/swirl it it will be fizzy and bubble up quite a bit.. this is why you want your container to be bigger than you think you need or it might make a BIG sticky mess (don't ask me how I know this!).

If you rack it too soon you'll have "sparkling" wine. I like sparkling wine.. but sometimes it makes your corks Pop out and fly across the room. So, if it's too bubbly, let it go a little bit longer and store those filled bottles sitting upright and NOT on their side or you could have a mess! (don't ask me how I know this)

Do NOT I mean NOT mess with the ratio of fruit/sugar thinking you'll make it better/dryer/sweeter. It wont work. (don't ask me how I know this)

You do NOT want to eat the fruit that comes out of the wine it does NOT taste good..... All the good stuff is now in the wine. BUT if you have pigs.. give it to them... Ever seen a drunk pig?? Its worth making the wine just to see that!! (don't ask me how I know this)

I have used quart canning jars when I ran out of bottles... works great and adds to the redneckish properties of homemade wine

You do NOT have to be picky cutting your fruit. It breaks down during the process anyway. I cut my big strawberries in half.. apples and peaches & watermelon into large chunks, blueberries were left whole. (in the pic I am ready to rack my new batch of Strawberry wine)

I bought my purdy blue and green bottles on Ebay!

I have use this recipe/technique with several fruits....

Apple = first batch was WAY sour. don't know what I did to it. 2nd time was very very yummy!

Peach = yummm! even better after it aged a year!!

Watermelon = made a very pretty pale pink wine!
Blueberry= Amazing!! (that's what is in the glass in the picture)
and the all-time winner of my poll of friends/family is....
Strawberry!! it was a little fizzy/sparkling, sweet but not way too sweet, perfect!!

any questions? feel free to ask!!

Go Forth And Make Wine!!
Your friends will thank you!!

Pin It!


  1. I would love to hear the stories that led to all the "(don't ask me how I know)" comments throughout your post! And as an early taste-tester in your wine-making exercises, I can attest to the fact that you know how to make wine... at least NOW. :o)

  2. do you have any idea of the alcohol content? and what if i wanted sparkling wine...just bottle it sooner than the 30 days? but what about the corks flying across the room? i cant wait to try this but i have questions!

  3. HI Kellyo!

    I really have no idea what the alcohol content is.. but I do know you can buy a gadget from any wine making website that will tell you. I do know that I cant walk after three glasses! lol

    My best sparkling wine was strawberry that I bottles at 31 days. just watch it and see how you'd like it. But yes, do remember that you may get the flying corks when ya bottle it while its bubbly.... just make sure your bottles are sitting upright and it shouldn't make a mess. I have only had one cork pop on me.

    You'll learn as you go. I promise. I just made another batch of strawberry wine and left it to "cook" for 50 days.... its not sparkling.. but boy it tastes just like "good" wine you buy in the store! whoo hoo!!

    keep me posted on your wine making adventures. Its fun fun fun!!

    Thanks for the comment! I dance a little jig when I get comments!

  4. Goooood! This is the stuff my dad used to make! I want to make wine, but I *don't* want to fart around with fancy yeast and siphons and blah blah blah.

    I am heartened by your posts and your (don't ask) comments, too.

  5. Goooood! This is the stuff my dad used to make! I want to make wine, but I *don't* want to fart around with fancy yeast and siphons and blah blah blah.

    I am heartened by your posts and your (don't ask) comments, too.

  6. Is there anything I need to know about bottling the wine into mason jars? I know that they have to be clean (water and a little bleach?) but do I need to put them in a pressure cooker or anything?
    Thanks! The loquat wine is almost ready to be bottled!

  7. Nope.... after you clean & sanitize with the bleach your set!
    put on your bands & lids and set those babies in a cool dark place for several months.. then report back on how it turned out!

    Good Luck!!!

  8. ooooh how about Pineapple! that sounds tasty.

  9. ooooh Pineapple!! what a good idea!!
    if you make it, let me know how it turns out!!!

  10. Barbara (in Tennessee)August 12, 2008 at 8:25 AM

    Hello, I just found this post, and I'm absolutely fascinated. I want to try this as soon as I find a container larger that a gallon. I just have one question (right now, anyway) do you peel the peaches? Thanks, Barbara

  11. Ello from another Homesteading Today hick !!!
    My question ..... I only have large glass GALLON jars....wondering if you think I can halve the recipe for each jar , or would it be better ro search for larger jars ?????
    I have TONS of Raspberries I am going to use !

  12. Howdy.... I have a question for ya. I racked my wine and the corks are shooting the ceiling. What can I do to prevent this?
    Help, the land lords gonna call the police if this ain't rectified soon.

  13. Nope.. I don't peel my peaches. I just pit am and cut them into chunks and your set!

    as for the flying corks.... let it "cook" a little bit longer.. you just got realllly sparkling wine! lol let it age another week before bottling and that should really help.

  14. Ohhhhhhhhhhhh
    Just stumbled across your post and am DYING to try this. I wonder if I will be able to wait a WHOLE month to bottle and then several more to ferment
    Thanks for this great post.

  15. WOW. I am itching to give this a try. thanks so much for sharing! :)

  16. I'm so glad more people are wanting to try this. it really is great! I'll be around for any questions you have. feel free to ask here in the comment section or shoot me an e-mail. Go Forth and Make Wine! ;)

  17. have you ever tried a version of your wine with honey (like mead). if so, what aer the measurements of the ingredients?

  18. Hi Dana,
    I just found your website(love it) and wanted to ask you about your homemade wine. My in-laws used to make homemade sparkling apple wine. I made the mistake of telling the kids about a time that I drank a little too much (don't ask - ha ha). Anywho, my daughter and her boyfriend were asking about how to make it. I guess we could whip up a batch for New Year's Eve. Maybe I can enjoy a little too much again!! My real question is, have you ever made it with apple juice and if so, how? Thanks so much for taking the time to read my posting.
    Joan from Michigan

  19. I recently did a posts on wine and found out that you could make you own. I've never tried it, but it sound absolutely delicious.

  20. I am going to try this because you did it so simply! I have wanted to do it for a long time but like you said, all of the necessary equipment and technical additives has put me off for a long time. No longer! I will make wine! :)

  21. Go for it!!! and don't forget to come back and tell us how it turned out!!!

  22. Hello! I know it's been a while now, but thanks so much for posting this simple little tutorial! I started a batch of mulberry-plum wine a month ago with your recipe and so far so good! I'm bottling it right now (and wondering if I should get a corker to avoid the struggle of stuffing used ones back in their bottles) and wanted to thank you for the great advice. I only did three things differently-- 1) I did bust out $1.20 for a packet of wine yeast for higher alcohol content, 2)a couple weeks in, I bagged all the fruit goo in cheese cloth so it wouldn't make the wine too muddy, and 3) now that I'm bottling I'm using a $.78 piece of plastic tubing to siphon the wine off the top of my batch. I can't wait to try it in a few months once it's aged a bit (right now it's very alcoholic and flavorful, but it definitely needs some mellowing out)! Thanks again! I love your blog!

  23. OMG, Dana- you are an absolute HOOT!! Between your commments, your recipes and now me watching your Wife Swap episodes on youtube...I am your number one fan now.

  24. Hi!! Someone already asked this, but I didn't see an answer. Can you cut the recipe in half?? Or will it mess with it somehow? THANKS!!!! This sounds AWESOME!

  25. Hey Jess...
    I thought I did answer, sorry bout that!
    I guess you could half the recipe...
    But never have, I always wish I made more!! lol
    It will change the time it takes to proof though...
    If you try it, come back and let me know how it turns out and what you did!
    Good Luck!!

  26. My hubby and I are just about to start a little wine making competition--me using your recipe and him using his fancy kit and additives. Can't wait to see how it turns out!

  27. Great post! My buddy and I are going to try this as we are both from the Bay Area and fans of the Napa Valley. Are Strawberries really that big of a risk with the fizz? Also, how long is it recommended for the strawberry and blueberry wines to age? Anything beyond the 6 months specifically? How long is it good to stir it for each day?

    Thanks for all the info.

  28. This sounds fantastic. But I have some questions:

    Is it possible to use juice rather than raw fruit?

    Don't you need yeast?

  29. Okay so I found your website and since my wife and I have been cannning for years, I decided what the hey and started 2 batches today. 3 gal of peach/ strawberry and 5 galons of strawberry/ apple. I've brewed many a gallon of beer, (expensive). I'll give you an update in 30 days.

  30. My apple wine after straining after 30 days is like syrup. does that go away in time and thin out. and if not how do you thin out.

  31. Where do you buy a big canister to make it in?? I soooo want to do this!!!

  32. I am so excited that I found your recipe, and I can't wait to make it this weekend!! I am 3 months pregnant and of course, I can't really drink alcohol. Because of this, I am CRAVING it! I figure I can follow your instructions and in 6 months--right after my baby is born--I will be able to taste my own homemade wine. It helps to have something to look forward to...lolol! Thanks a million for your recipe!

  33. I am making strawberry and pineapple right now. I am 23 days in already. I bought my container just like Dana is using in the picture at Wal-Mart for $9.99. I plan on using coffee filters instead of the cheesecloth when it comes time to bottle the wine. I can't wait to see how the pineapple turns out. It smells scrumptious!

  34. excited to try this! I have been looking for this type without yeast for so long...Thank you and pinterest :)

  35. Last October we decided to try your recipe and made peach wine and strawberry wine. We 'cooked' our wine for 30 days and bottled them in quart mason jars. The jars were put back in their box and stored in a cool dark place for six months, almost seven.

    When we took the boxes out into the light, several of the mason jar lids had been lifted and we are delighted to say that the wine was awesome!

    The strawberry is our favorite. We gifted a few jars to my mother-in-law who after one jar proclaimed the wine strawberry flavored white lightening... she began making herself a wine cooler by mixing 1/2 diet ginger ale 1/2 homemade wine.

    Just wanted to update and say thanks for all the information you've shared... Funny thing... I don't drink, but love knowing I can make drinkable wine!


  36. This comment has been removed by the author.

  37. Don't you use yeast with this??

  38. This is the 5th day of my peach wine. I stirred it every day but this morning there was like white stuff all over the top of the peaches almost looked moldy kind of look to it. Is this normal??

    1. I have the same problem. I am making a batch of strawberry and one of blackberry. The strawberry is doing great but I noticed today that the blackberry batch has white kinda moldy stuff floating in it. Not sure if its normal or not

  39. Thanks for the recipes. I had tried this type of wine and really enjoyed it but couldn't get the recipe :) We are about to strain it and it smells really strong!!!

  40. I remember reading you said to not alter the recipe but I remembered to late! I tasted the peach wine after about three weeks and didn't think it was sweet enough so I added probably half a cup of sugar. Is this going to be a problem of some kind?? I don't think I will bottle in 30 days but leave it longer since it still seems to be kind of foamie.

  41. HI,

    I was wondering if you could use frozen fruit or does it have to be fresh?
    Thanks for all the post!

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  43. Ya I have a ton of frozen blueberries I had no clue what to use for.... now I want to make wine with some. Will frozen work

  44. My wine just finished and it is amazing !!!!!!! Thank you tons.. can't wait to make peach next!!!


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