Feb 15, 2009

"Homemade Wine 101" or.. my contribution to the downfall of cheap wine lovers everywhere!

I have never claimed to be a very sophisticated kinda gal....
Gourmet, I am not.....
When it comes to food I like good ol' 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 it's 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 ol' $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, 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 until 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 - it's 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 do NOT - mess with the ratio of fruit/sugar, thinking you'll make it better/dryer/sweeter. It won't 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 redneck-ish 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, and 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!

93 amazing comments. Talk To Me!!:

Curvaliscious said...

I am totally going to try this. In jail they used apple juice and hooooweee that stuff was seriously potent. Same idea minus the fruit chunks (too hard to come by) and they added bread I believe for a yeasty effect. Never did leave it for 30 days because it is difficult to hide it that long which is maybe why it was so potent? I dunno.

Question about your bottles, though. Do you have a corker like one would use in the wine making place? Oh, and could someone use a large bottled water jug like the ones used in a water cooler to brew the wine?

Elle said...

This sounds like something even I could make. I like all your "Don't ask me how I know this" LOL!

Hi ! I'm Cindy said...

k now the pyro post makes sense!! homemade wine!! love it!!

Jenny said...

I just started a batch of this yesterday. It was getting a little bubbly this evening, I noticed. Can't wait to see how it turns out!

joicy said...

WOW!!! Home made wine huh? Your article really sounds good... Keep blogging...
Le Cache Contemporary

Marcy said...

Hubby actually made some homemade wine last week! It's "cooking" in the crawlspace in the basement. can't wait to taste it!
I'm enjoying your blog posts... you must be a blast to be around!

rebel said...

When I first visited your blog, I found this recipe and I'm in the process of gettin' everything together to make some. Thank you so much.

rebel said...

I'm curious too about corkin' the bottles. Is there anything else we need to know to have success with this?

Dana (the Homesteading Housewife) said...

Re: corking the bottles...

I did eventually get tired of using a rubber mallet and broke down and bought a small hand powered corker from Ebay (it was about $30) it is worth it's weight in gold!!

Tess said...

I feel dumb. I didnt know you didnt add alcohol to wine-lol! Got to try this because I never find sweet enough wine.

...and she lived... said...

ooooh I must try this! Have you tried batches of a couple different fruits like strawberry-peach?

April said...

Mmmmmm. This sounds fantastic!

Reverse_Vampyr said...

Found your post through Twitter. Very interesting article, thanks for sharing! I've never even contemplated making homemade wine (I'm not much of a wine drinker) but just may have to give this a try.

ChristyACB said...

I'm so cracking up over the Don't Ask Me How I Know comments. You should have posted pictures of that!

I'm gonna give this a whirl. I just happen to have some of last year's strawberries in the freeze that will be a bit too mushy for straight eating..hmm...

Tatersmama said...

" Hi ! I'm Cindy said...
k now the pyro post makes sense!! homemade wine!!"

I was just thinking the same thing !!

I want to give this a go, even tho I'm not much of a wine drinker. Just so I can say I did it myself, you know?? ;-)

Joie at Canned Laughter said...

This is my kind of post! I'm afraid the only drunken pig in my house would be me. Note to self: must find pig for intoxication purposes.

Pam's Pride said...

Yet another "I have got to try this!" post!!!
Now I am on the hunt for supplies!!
Love all of your recipes...keep them coming!! My DH is itching for me to make some of the breakfast burritos to put in the freezer for him to have a quick breakfast for him to have on his way to work in the morning!

John Socrates Loyola said...

Home made wine sure sounds great.. And is so refreshing! And what’s more perfect for a home made wine than a yummy and delightful grape? For more about grapes, this link could give reliable information: http://goinggrapes.com/

sohnnenstrahl said...

Oohie, we are going to do this, and thank you! There's not much interesting I had to say here, but I did want your children to run and hide in shame upon seeing you dance a little jig. So I am doing my part.

RJ said...

Great post! Thanks! Absolutely fun to read as well. I'm so going to try this! :)

Any recipe for homemade fruit champagne, please?? I love the bubbly as well!

Anonymous said...

If you use mason jars how full do you make them? does it matter? does it keep as well as the corked bottles?

Dana Clover said...

wine bottles work best. I had a few canning jars who's lids popped from the pressure. But the canning jars help me fulfill my redneck dreams!

Anonymous said...

Ive been to prison and it really only takes 3 to 8 days or when done cooking. when it stops bubbling its done. and if you let it set out to long without adding suger it will eventually turn to viniger

Dana Clover said...

yes, a baggie or coffee cup of real prison wine would "cook" quicker than a gallon sized container.

Anonymous said...

i already started this as you said. was I to boil or use hot water to pour over the sugar?

Dana Clover said...

I never boiled or heated the water.
Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much! I have some lovely white grape wine "resting" in canning jars as we speak. I also started another batch with apples. It looked good, until I started to strain it, and some of it was the consistancy of egg whites. Do you have any idea why this happened? Can it be saved?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip, have started my first batch of Rhubarb wine today. Added a little bread yeast to help kick off the fermentation, can't wait to try it. Hid it in the botom of my wardrobe (closset!) to add to the "prison" flavour!

CarolAnn said...

Down here in The Sip they call it "Hooch". A friend of mine was a jailer and she said the smell would dang near knock you out. They would save the bread and sugar off their food trays and make it. Desperate times call for desperate measures. TY for posting...gonna pin it to my growing list of homemade wine. I've been making fruit liqueurs this summer, but it's expensive!

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Clark Ruth said...

interesting article about homemade wine, have you tried Personalised Whisky

Anonymous said...

When you put your wine into canning jars do you process them at all to seal them?

blondie said...

Help. My strawberry wine was awesome but my peach & cherry is really thick , i did it the same way. What do i do ? Help

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good post

Anonymous said...

I'm one week into making watermelon wine in a 5-gallon glass jug with an airlock and it smells really bad is that right

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Unknown said...

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Jen Kingsley said...

No, you can kill the wine just the leave it by tightening the seal

Jen Kingsley said...

No, you can kill the wine just the leave it by tightening the seal

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