Homemade Wine Recipes
and How to Make Honey Wine

Homemade wine recipes will include grape and other fruit wine recipes as well as how to make honey wine.

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

However, wild fermentation may be of interest to you, if you want a more sulfite free wine.

You can legally produce up to 200 gallons of homemade wine for you and your friends to enjoy at home - just in case you were wondering.

Fruit wine recipes can be made with just about any type of fruit and this is where you will create many brand new taste sensations.

Learning how to make honey wine is probably the easiest of the homemade wine recipes with ingredients that could already be in your kitchen.

Homemade Wine Recipes

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 fruit to create the best homemade wine recipes, they will need to be completely ripe. Use grapes that you have grown yourself or find a great farmer's market that sells ripe fruit.

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.

Also, use clean fruit and remove stems, bruised fruit, bugs, etc. - and make sure to use fruit that doesn't contain any chemicals or preservatives.

Homemade Wine Recipes - The Basics

Clean Equipment: Sterilize all equipment before using for homemade wine recipes.

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

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

  • Hydrometer: Used to test your must's sugar level and potential alcohol level. Can also be used to check to see if the fermentation process has stopped.
  • Testing for the amount of sugar will determine the amount of alcohol you'll end up with - the final alcohol level should generally be between 10 to 18%.
  • Acid Testing Kit: Used to measure the amount of acidity in your "must". You can also use ph testing strips to test for acidity levels.
  • Yeast prefer the "right" environment in order to thrive and the right amount of acidity will also help to balance out the flavor of your wine.

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 fermentation 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 S02. And all wine will contain some sulfites or S02 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.

Fruit Wine Recipes

Fruit wine recipes can be made with almost any type of fruit. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, apples, pears, plums, pineapples, and cherries are all popular choices when making a fruit wine.

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 for creating successful fruit wine recipes.

Most fruit will 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 11 to 12% alcohol content.

And you can try adding different sugars to add different characteristics. You can even add spices such as ginger and cinnamon to your fruit wine recipes.

However, if your fruit juice is very acidic, you may have to add an equal amount of water to end up with a nice tasting wine. Also, adding a few different types of fruit can 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.

Also adding in tannin to your fruit wine recipes whether it be from grape skins or tea will help to preserve your wine for a longer period of time.

Fruit wine recipes sometimes do not improve in taste with excessive aging and are usually consumed within a year or two of bottling.

The Fermentation Process

One of the most important concepts you must learn in making 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 Fermentation Process: The first stage of the fermentation process is called the aerobic stage. Air is very important for helping yeast to multiply and this part of the process typically lasts 3 to 7 days.

The second 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.

While the yeast are using up the remaining oxygen, you will need to put an air-lock on your fermentation vessel to allow carbon dioxide to leave and to limit what can enter your "must".

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

The right temperature is also very important for the fermentation process. The best temperature for the fermentation process is approximately 72 degrees F, but 70 to 75 degrees F should be just fine.

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 yeasts.

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 yeasts 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.

How to Make Honey Wine a.k.a. Mead

Honey Wine or Mead was most likely the first fermented beverage.  And mead may be one of the easiest homemade wine recipes to make .

How 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 clover honey seems to be the most common honey used in how to make honey wine.

Basically, a stronger flavored honey gives your mead more character and a lighter honey may not give your mead enough flavor.

How to Make Honey Wine - Raw:  It use to be common for mead makers to boil the honey/water mixture, but many proclaim that heat destroys the flavor and aromatic properties of honey.

People argue that there is no need to kill the "spoilage" organisms because they can't survive in honey and the best mead will be made from honey that has undergone less processing.

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.

And do not add any sulfites or you will kill the wild yeast.

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

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

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

And when learning how to make honey wine for the first time, be careful not to bottle it while it is still fermenting or you will end up with sparkling wine - or a slight explosion.

Storing Your Homemade Wine Recipes

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 also keep longer.

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

The ideal storage conditions would be keeping your 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.

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