Homemade Wine Recipes
and How to Make Honey Wine

Homemade wine recipes can be made by using grapes or other types of fruit.  You can even learn how to make a honey wine or mead which is considered by many to be the first wine produced by Ancient people.

Fruit wine recipes can be made with just about any type of fruit and this is where you can create many brand new taste sensations.  However, learning how to make honey wine is probably the easiest of all the homemade wine recipes with ingredients that could already be in your kitchen.

The really nice thing about making your own homemade wine recipe is that you can make sulfite free wine.  You can choose to use wild fermentation or you can buy packets of different types of yeast for added success with your homemade wine recipes.

However, wild fermentation may be more of interest to you, if you are interested in sulfite free wines.  And you can legally produce up to 100 gallons of homemade wine per year for your personal consumption - just in case you were wondering.

Homemade Wine Recipes - Grape Wine Recipe Basics

Making homemade wine recipes is a simple chemical process that uses the natural process of fermentation to turn the juice of grapes into wine.

In order for grapes to create the best homemade wine recipes, they will need to be completely ripe and organic. 

Use grapes that you have grown yourself or buy them at a great farmer's market that sells ripe wine grapes.

Making a truly great homemade wine is really a labor of love and will almost always be made with one of the classic wine grapes that are favored by many wine makers.

Grapes for Homemade Wine Recipes

  • Classic red wine grapes are Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. 
  • Classic white wine grapes are Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Grigio, and Chardonnay.

Classic wine grapes will supply the right amount of sugar and will be low enough in acid to produce some really great homemade wine recipes. 

Classic wine grapes have a good reputation and will help to ensure delightful homemade wine recipes that you will treasure for years.

However, because of the complexities of certain grapes, I would get a good wine making book before starting any homemade wine recipes.

Homemade Red Wine with Wild Fermentation

  •  Make sure before buying grapes that they don't contain any chemicals or preservatives.
  • Before crushing the grapes, remove the stems, bruised fruit, leaves, bugs, etc.

Put grapes in a vat or fermenting vessel and crush with your clean feet.  Check the acidity level and quantity of sugar in your "must".  Adjust "must" if necessary.

Then ferment for 5 to 8 days.  Be sure to punch down grapes a few times a day to increase oxygen to help feed the yeast.

When the Gravity reading on your hydrometer has dropped below 1.030, the primary fermentation is said to be over.

"Rack" or siphon the fermented grape juice out of the vat and also press the remaining grapes to get the rest of the fermented juice. 

Put fermented grape juice into the 2nd fermentation vessel with an air-lock to complete the secondary stage of fermentation. 

When complete, "rack" wine into another vessel to remove the sediment and let wine clear at a lower temperature in a dark room.

In a few months, "rack" again to remove sediment (if needed).  At about 8 months old, if the Gravity reading of wine is 0.995 or less - "rack" for last time and bottle wine for long term storage.

The Fermentation Process

One of the most important concepts you must learn to make homemade wine recipes is the fermentation process. Fermentation is when yeast consume the available sugars in your "must" and turn that sugar into alcohol and CO2 gas.

The Primary stage of the fermentation process is called the aerobic stage. Air is very important at this point to help yeast multiply which produces alcohol and CO2.  This part of the process typically takes 3 to 7 days.  And about 70% of fermentation will take place during this stage.

The Secondary stage of the fermentation process is called the anaerobic stage. Air exposure is limited at this point which forces the yeast to produce alcohol and carbon dioxide or CO2 while dying off.  This part of the process typically takes 10 to 15 days and will produce about 30% of the alcohol in wine.

While the yeast are using up the remaining oxygen, you will need to put an air-lock on your 2nd fermentation vessel to allow carbon dioxide to leave while preventing oxygen from entering your "must".

In a week or two a slower fermentation process will begin. And given enough time, the fermentation process will simply end on its own as all yeast have a point at which they will die of alcohol toxicity and drop to the bottom of your 2nd fermentation vessel.

The right temperature is very important for the fermentation process. In general, the best temperature for the fermentation process is approximately 72 degrees F, but anywhere between 70 and 75 degrees F. should be sufficient.  However, white wines are typically fermented at lower temperatures.

Homemade Wine Recipes - Fruit Wine Recipe Basics

Fruit wine recipes can be made with almost any type of fruit and even certain vegetables. 

Strawberries, pineapples, bananas, blackberries, apples, pears, plums, and cherries are all popular choices when making a fruit wine recipe.

Fruit wine recipes are no more difficult than making wine from grapes.

The basic process is the same although some adjustments are almost always necessary to create the right "must".

Adjustments to the sugar and acid content are almost always necessary to create successful fruit wine recipes. 

Most fruit will not have enough sugar to create a 4 to 6% alcohol content, so you will need to add more sugar to create a longer lasting wine with a 9% or more alcohol content.

You can try adding different types of sugar to add different characteristics to your wine.  You can even add in spices such as ginger and cinnamon to your fruit wine recipes.

If your fruit juice is very acidic, you may have to add an equal amount of water to create a nice tasting wine.  Also, adding a few different types of fruit may help to balance out the acidity of your fruit wine recipes.

Once you have the right amount of sugar and a good acidity level - your "must" is now ready to begin the fermentation process.

Be aware that fruit wine recipes sometimes do not improve in taste with long term storage or aging.  They are usually consumed within a year or two of bottling.

However, adding tannins to your fruit wine recipes from grape skins or tea will help to preserve fruit wines for longer periods of time.

Homemade Strawberry Wine with Cultured Yeast

Instructions:

  1. Put strawberries into a big stainless steel pot.  Add the lemon juice and water.  Bring contents up to a boil while stirring.
  2. Then turn off heat and dissolve the sugar.  Submerge tea bag and cover with a lid.   Steep tea for 10 minutes before removing.
  3. Place the pot in cold water in your sink.  When "must" is cool enough, put everything into the primary fermenting vessel.
  4. Remove a little juice and add the yeast to create a starter and let sit for 1 to 2 hours to activate.  In about two hours, take a Specific Gravity reading (should be about 1064) and then add the starter to your "must".
  5. Use a lid with an air-lock to release gas pressure and prevent other micro-organisms from entering the primary fermenting vessel.
  6. Ferment for 7 days and be sure to shake it daily to make sure strawberries are always in contact with the yeast.
  7. After 7 days, "rack" fermented strawberry juice to a 2nd fermenting vessel for the secondary fermentation process.  After 15 days, you can bottle your wine.
  8. Optional:  Add 10 g of sugar per liter of wine to make a sparkling wine.
  9. Keep the yeast that settle on the bottom of the 2nd fermenter in a small glass jar in your refrigerator to make more wine.
  10. Check the final alcohol content of your wine in 2 weeks by reserving some in a separate glass.  Alcohol content should be around 9.5%.

Ingredients:

  • 2000 Grams or 4 pounds 4 ounces of Fresh or Frozen Organic Strawberries
  • Juice of 1 Organic Lemon
  • 1 Bag of Organic Black Tea
  • 4 Liters or 16 1/4 cups of Spring or Filtered Water
  • 900 Grams or 4 1/2 cups of Organic White Cane Sugar
  • 100 Grams or 1/2 cup of Organic Brown Cane Sugar
  • 7 Grams or 1 packet of Beer or Wine Brewing Yeast

The Basics for Homemade Wine Recipes

Clean Equipment: Sterilize all equipment before using for your homemade wine recipes with non-toxic cleaners and very hot water.

Extraction Process: You can do this by crushing, pressing, chopping, soaking, or boiling your fruit.

Must: Is the liquid mixture created from ripe grapes, ripe fruit, or honey which goes into the primary fermentation container. You may need to adjust the sugar content and acid level to create the perfect "must".

  • Hydrometer: Used to measure Specific Gravity before and after a liquid is fermented.  Difference of the two readings will determine its alcohol content  The final alcohol content should be between 10 and 18%.
  • Basically this tool tests the sugar content of a "must" and potential alcohol content. And can also be used to check if the fermentation process has stopped.
  • Acid Testing Kit: Used to measure the amount of acidity in your "must". You can also use pH testing strips to test acidity levels.
  • Yeast prefer the "right" environment in order to thrive.  Also, the "right" amount of acidity will help to balance out the flavor of your homemade wine recipes.

Yeast: Wild fermentation is used or cultured yeast are added to the "must" to start the fermentation process. It is very important that enough nutrients are found in your "must" to feed the yeast.

Racking: Once vigorous fermentation slows, you can siphon your wine into another vessel leaving the sediment behind. This process is usually done on a regular basis throughout the wine making process to end up with a better tasting wine.

Carboy: Typically a glass jug used in the secondary fermentation process as well as for storing your wine throughout the fermentation process. An air-lock type of device is used as well to limit the amount of oxygen as well as debris from entering.

Bottling: This is done once the fermentation process has completely ended and your wine is relatively clear. This wine is usually aged further to create better tasting homemade wine recipes.

Sulfites: Usually added to most commercial wines to help extend the shelf life of the wine. Not used in the initial stages of wild fermentation or in Organic wines from the USA.

Sulfite Free Wine

Technically, there is no such a thing as a sulfite free wine.  The closest you can get to a sulfite free wine will be less than 1 ppm of sulfites.

The term "sulfites" is another name for sulfur dioxide or SO2. And all wine will contain some sulfites or SO2 because it is a natural by-product of the fermentation process.

Sulfites have been used as a preservative in wine making for quite some time. Wine makers typically add tiny amounts (parts per million) of additional sulfites - to act as an anti-oxidant for their wine.

Sulfites will inhibit the growth of molds and bacteria as well as to help preserve the wine's flavor by preventing oxidation or browning.  Red wines typically contain less sulfites than white wine because red wine has tannins which are stabilizing agents.

Some people think that wine labeled "Organic Wine" means that it is a sulfite free wine. What it actually means (in the USA) is that the wine doesn't have any added sulfites - it only has naturally occurring sulfites.

Organic wines from the USA generally contain less than 40 ppm (parts per million) of sulfites. 

BTW, wines that contain less than 10 ppm are not required to put "Contains Sulfites" on their labels.

Sulfite free wine or wine that does not have any added sulfites will generally have a shorter shelf life and will need to be kept in perfect storage conditions. 

This however, is a topic of great debate and controversy.

Homemade Wine Recipes - Honey Wine Recipe Basics

Honey wine also known as Mead was most likely the first fermented wine beverage.  And mead may be one of the easiest homemade wine recipes to make.  Although, the primary fermentation stage for mead is longer than other types of wines. 

Recipe to Make Honey Wine:   It's basically just honey, water, and yeast.

There are several types of honey that can be used to make mead, but an unpasteurized organic honey will be the best type of honey to use in your honey wine recipes.  Also, a stronger flavored honey will give your mead more character and a lighter tasting honey may not shine through especially if combining with other flavors.

How to Make Honey Wine
- Different Types

Many fruits and spices have become popular additives in the making of honey wine to create different types of mead.

  • Metheglin - Mead made with Spices and Extracts.
  • Pyment - Mead made with Honey and Grapes.
  • Melomel - Mead that is made with Fruit or Fruit Juices.

You can make honey wine or mead that focuses more on the taste of a particular honey or try to spice it up with other fruit and additives.

When making mead for the first time, be careful not to bottle it while it is still fermenting.  Or you will end up with a sparkling wine - or a slight explosion.

When the primary fermentation stage is complete, you can begin the process of racking your mead into a 2nd carboy leaving the sediment behind.

Use an airlock again and let sit for a month or so to finish off the fermentation process before bottling. 

Most meads will generally take 9 to 12 months to age properly.

How to Make an Easy Honey
"Viking" Wine aka Mead

Using Raw Honey to Make Mead

It use to be very common for mead makers to boil the honey/water mixture.

However, many have proclaimed that heat destroys the flavor and aromatic properties of a great tasting honey.

People argue that there is no need to kill the "spoilage" organisms because they can't survive in honey anyway. 

Bottom line:  The best mead will be made from honey that has undergone less processing and heat.

And as long as the fermentation process is strong and vigorous, you shouldn't have any problems with bad organisms.

How to Make Honey Wine
- Wild Fermentation

Meads are sometimes harder to ferment than other types of wines.

Honey does not contain the proper nutrients needed for wild fermentation, so adding in additional nutrients is usually required so that the yeast can thrive.

Fruit particularly grapes will contribute the necessary nutrients and these nutrients are normally added when the "must" is prepared.

Dried fruits such as raisins or dates will also help your yeast to thrive as well as adding to the overall flavor of your honey wine.

You will need to make sure that your "must" is exposed to air for a few days to attract some wild yeast floating around in the air.

Also, stirring a couple of times a day to incorporate more oxygen into your "must" will help the yeast to thrive. 

Don't add any sulfites or you will kill the wild yeast. 

Check out this Wild Fermented Honey Wine Recipe

Wild Fermentation

Wild Fermentation vs. Cultured Yeast:   Making wine with wild yeast or wild fermentation has been a source of debate for many people because of its unpredictable nature, but for thousands of years wine was fermented with the use of wild yeast.

Wild yeast are the naturally existing yeast found in the air or found on your fruit. When using wild fermentation, no sulfites are added to the "must" as this would hold back the wild yeast from multiplying.

Wild yeast may take a little longer to get started, but this allows more time to develop a greater depth of character or flavor to the wine.

You can also choose to inoculate your "must" with a cultured yeast. You will find many strains of cultured yeast that will bring out different characteristics of your wine.

Many wild yeast will only survive with an alcohol level of 4 to 6% and then the yeast Saccharomyes Cerevisiae (which are hopefully present) will take over to complete the wild fermentation process.  Some people choose to inoculate with S Cerevisiae at that level to ensure complete fermentation will be reached.

Storing Your Homemade Wine Recipes

The ideal storage conditions for your finished homemade wine would be keeping your bottles of wine in a cool and dark room with a consistent temperature of approximately 55 degrees F.

You also want to keep your bottles sideways, so that the cork is in contact with the wine. This helps to keep the cork moist and helps to keep it from shrinking.

Basements or a cool closet may be an option for storing your homemade wine recipes for those who do not own a wine cellar.

It will generally depend on the quality and sugar/alcohol content of your wine as to how long your homemade wine recipes will last. 

Homemade wine recipes that have tannins and the right amount of acidity will keep longer.

As a rule of thumb, a 12% alcohol content will preserve wine for longer periods of time and 10% will probably keep a pretty long time.

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