Homemade wine is actually quite easy to produce. The basic process is simply to add yeast to sweet fruit juice and wait for the yeast to turn the sugars into alcohol. This is the same process as for brewing beer or making cider.
Wine making in one sentence
Sweet liquid, plus yeast, plus time equals home brew.
However, the trick is to make sure that nothing else gets into your brew to spoil the end result.
Now people have been refining the process for about 5000 years so the good news is that when it comes to brewing, the human race is just about getting the hang of it.
You might wonder wether you can produce a good brew at home, without all the fancy equipment they have in big factory breweries, but think about this. For 99% of the history of brewing! all of it was home brewed. Medieval ale was made at home, cider was made on the farm and wine too. Almost everything we have discovered on the topic was worked out in rustic locations using the most basic of tools. Therefore, with your nice clean kitchen, you are already 90% of the way there.
One of the best evenings I ever had was accompanied by fantastic wine made from the homeowners grape vine which ran down the back of his suburban garden fence. So, in short, yes anyone can do it.
However there are a few bits of kit you will need to be a successful home brewer.
A fermentation vessel is a must. This is a container to keep your juice and yeast in. Thankfully, a big lidded bucket is ideal. Plastic primary fermentation buckets are sold for the price of a couple of glasses of beer by home brew shops. Buy food grade plastic containers to ensure nothing nasty leeches out of the plastic during the brewery process.
You will also need a secondary fermentation vessel. This is basically another large container with an airlock to keep bad things out while allowing excess carbon dioxide ( a by-product of fermentation) to escape.
Other than that, a siphon tube to transfer the brew from on container to the other without stirring up the sediment (another by-product) is pretty much all you need by way of kit to give home brewing a try.
Then there are ingredients to consider. Many people start their home brewing adventures with cider following a glut of apples in the garden. This was certainly how I got started. I took a bucket of apples, chopped them up, put them thru a kitchen juicer and made about 4 pints of apple juice. I added yeast from the local brew shop and left it for 4 days. A friend and I drank the drinkable (but only just drinkable) result and ended up singing so loudly the neighbours complained. It wasn’t good cider, but it got me hooked on a lifetime of experimentation with home brewing.
How to brew properly
The problem with short explanations of the home brewing process is that they miss out the detail. In home brewing the detail is most certainly where the devil resides.
There are plenty of websites covering wines, ciders and beers. Have a good read of one of these and then give it a go for yourself.
Art of Brewing – good for beer
How to make Cider – step by step cider making
Home Winemaking – recipes and ideas