Questions about homemade wine?

If you have a question – post it here and I will try and help.

Comments are always welcome.

43 thoughts on “Questions about homemade wine?

  1. I started 5 gallons of wine using 11 pounds of sugar. A friend told me I could add suger in the middle of the process to produce higher alchol level. Now, after sampling wine it is very very sweet. Can this be fixed?

  2. Hi Brock,
    If the must is still bubbling, the sweetness will reduce as the alcohol level rises.

    You can leave the wine to continue to ferment OR, you could start a batch of the same recipe, reduce the sugar amount, and combine the two musts once the second batch has got settled.

  3. I am making a couple different types of fruit wine- the old fashioned way- (the way my grandfather made wine)- and it says for when you are filling the wine- and are going to put the cork in you are to cork loosely- (by tying a string around the cork, and allowing for fermentation to continue until it is complete) —-does anyone know anyother way to cork loosely without using a string tied around the cork?

  4. Instead of the string, use plastic wrap for a couple of days, then remove the wrapped cork, resoak the cork and insert fully. However, it is safer to wait until fermentation has stopped completely if you don’t want to risk corks exploding!

  5. Hi,

    I racked off 8 bottles of wine a couple of months ago, and left them in my wine rack.

    Some sediment has settled in the bottles, so I decided to rack them off again.

    When the bottles were refilled they seemed to have started working again.

    How do I stop them from working?

  6. Hi Stewart,

    You can add a very small amount of crushed campden tablet, or you can return to a demijohn and leave the wine to finish before re-bottling.

    Good luck with your wine.

  7. I started a 5 gal bucket of apple wine a week ago. I cut 30 apples in 1/4s, added 5lbs of sugar, and 2 packs of bread yeast and topped it all off with 4 gallons of H2O. I then covered with a cloth. Im going to let it ferment for 3 weeks. Then strain and bottle. Does this sound right? This is my first try… Did i use the right Yeast? It is making the bubbling sound. Should i stir it? Thanks Pat

  8. Hi Pat,

    If the mix is bubbling, you are essentially making wine! Congratulations.

    Apple wine usually ferments for about 6 months. It varies with the temperature, the yeast, and the amount of sugar in the apples. If you bottle it at 6 weeks it will most likely try to continue to ferment in the bottles.

    As far as stirring it – I wouldn’t, unless the bubbling stops. In a container covered with a cloth, every time you lift the cloth, some contaminants will get in. I would recommend moving the mix to a closed container with an airlock, if you can.

  9. I started 2 gallons of wine almost 5 weeks ago. One is blueberry/watermellon the other is apple. Both are from concentrate and both in one gallon milk jugs. I did not use the ballon technique I had read about, I opted instead to cut a hole in each of the caps just big enough to squeeze a plastic tube into. I then ran the plastic tubing into a jug of water. At 5 weeks I still have small bubbles rising though the liquid, but the bubbles that are coming out into the water are few and far between. I was hoping this wine would be ready for New Year’s Eve. When should I take the wine off of brew? The recipe I had said 4-6 weeks for the ballon to deflate. And it also said something about setting it in a near freezing place to kill the yeast. Should I take it off of brew now or wait another week? By the way, I’m DYING to taste the blueberry/watermellon, the mix tasted fantastic when I was preparing it. I should also point out that this is my first attempt at making my own wine. Hope to hear from you soon. Angela

  10. Hello Angela,

    I would recommend you taste them.

    • If it tastes like wine – chill it, then bottle it.

    • If it tastes a lot like yeast – give it a swirl around and let it ferment some more.

    Good luck!

  11. There arises a problem, I can’t taste the wine without letting air into it. I’ve had a hard time finding any real info on making wine in this fashion. All the sites I’ve looked at talk about doing it with different equipment (that would allow tasting). I plan to get better equipment in the future, but this was a spur of the moment decision to make the wine and I had to make due with what I had available. Is it ok to allow air into it to taste and still turn out a decent wine?

  12. There is a risk of contamination but probably not a huge one, as long as you are quick.

    Make sure you use clean sampling equipment (Not your finger! :P).

  13. I sampled just the blueberry/watermellon, the tiny taste I got did not convince me one way or the other….not sure but thought I got a hint of vinegar taste. I think I’ll go ahead and chill it, I’ll get a better taste of it after I strain it. I’m hoping that my taste was incorrect. I have been worried about that particular batch since early in the brew cycle, I believe I may have gotten air in it during the first week (had to move it to a different location due to my cats). Thank you for your assistance. I’ll let you know if it turned out ok or not.


  14. I have finally finished straining both gallons of wine. Ends up the blueberry/watermellon is WONDERFUL tasting, it’s a bit sweet, but I prefer sweeter wines so it works for me. The apple on the other hand is so strong, i’m not sure it would qualify as a wine. They are both still relatively cloudy, not sure what I should do about that. Are there any “around the house” fixes for the cloudiness? If not I may have to deal with it. Once again, I would like to thank you for answering my questions, it is much appreciated.


  15. Congrats Angela,

    Really pleased for you that you are happy with your wines and I hope you will make many more.

    The cloudiness may disappear once the wine has settled in its bottles. Household fixes take a while, and New Year’s Eve is fast approaching!

    If the apple wine is too strong for your taste, try it mixed with a soda.

  16. I made some wine from grape and apple juice in the middle of may and then stashed it in a closet until now, beginning of August. I noticed that some of the yeast I poured in stuck to the side of the bottle on the top where no liquid touched and it grew/multiplied in that spot a little bit. I just poured the wine into mason jars to store and I was wondering if that yeast on the side could be dangerous at all to the wine?

  17. If the wine in the mason jars is clearing or is clear – you are probably OK. Congratulations 🙂
    If you see strings in the wine, it is contaminated. Next time, give it a good swish round to mix the yeast in with the must before it starts fomenting – This will also wash any yeast from the glass above the wine.

  18. I brew my homemade wine yesterday and i find the the wine is alittle to sweet with no alcohol taste and the next morning, i saw tiny bubbles moving around.Wondering if it going explode, is it spoil. Do i have to brew it again.

  19. Hello Ning,

    When you start wine brewing there is quite a bit of sugar there. As the yeast does it’s job, the sugar is turned to alcohol and the wine gets less sweet. The bubbles are the yeast working – It is all good 🙂

    It won’t explode if your airlock is working.

  20. i have started making homemade wine for the first time from a starter kit i put 800g of sugar in it and it has been fermenting for 3 days then i read the instructions again and noticed i was supposed to put 900g of sugar can i add the extra 100g of sugar now or not?

  21. Hello Amy – At 3 days you should be fine adding a bit more sugar. I would make sure to give the must a good swirl to make sure it is evenly distributed for the yeast to work on.

    Good luck with your wine!

  22. Hello Deana,

    Around 68° F should be a good temperature to keep your must bubbling nicely.

    If it gets too much warmer, the fermentation will be fast but end quickly, and the results are not as good. Once you have the mixture producing bubbles gently, try to keep the temperature constant.

    With this in mind, a spot well out of the way is best from the start. I use the top of the fridge. I can see what’s going on but I don’t worry about anyone disturbing it while it works.

    Good luck!

  23. Hi I’m gonna have some wine done around the middle of December. I was wondering if it was ok to bottle in mason jars? There are easier to access than bottles and corks

    1. As long as you are sure the wine has finished working – producing gas – you can store it in anything that is absolutely clean, and which you can keep the air out of.

  24. Hi, this is my first attempt to make wine. I have followed the instructions, but after the 7 days its still bubbling so still fermenting. it has now been 9 days, and am a bit confused. do i wait until it stops, or carry on regardless.

  25. I have a question? this is my first time I have made wine, Its very strong and
    not sweet enough to have a good taste to suit me. Can I add some sugar

    1. Congratulations on your first wine! 🙂
      It is better to mix, or blend, a sweeter wine with a more tart one than to add sugar. The sugary taste will not be a part of your wine. However, if you have kept the recipe for your wine, it should be a matter of adjusting the amount of sugar in the recipe when you start the next batch.
      A half cup increment increase is generally best; but the amount of sweetness will also vary if the temperature has changed or with the ripeness/sugars in any fruit you have used.

      If a wine is too strong it can always be mixed with juice or soda in a sangria.

  26. Hi JackieB! Hope you are having a fabulous day, and I so hope you can help me. I started a 4 gallon batch of apple wine a couple of weeks ago, from fruit. After the first week, I took the fruit out, and OMG it smelled like pure apple cider.. anyways, and added yeast and let it go. About a week later, I went to check it, and no bubbles and no life at all.. I tested it and found that it didn’t even register an SG.. WTH? All my numbers were good when I added the yeast, including the temp. So a couple of days ago, I added 1 cup water with 2 cups sugar mixed in, and still nothing. I am wondering if I should add more yeast and hope it starts up again? or add more sugar since maybe that wasn’t enough? or should I just toss the darned thing and try again next time? It is kindof a bummer since we put some effort into preparing 40 lbs of apples for this endeavor.. any help would be great!! Thanking you in advance and have a great day!

  27. I would give the whole thing a really good shake; leave it for a day or two and if it isn’t going steady with fomenting I would throw it away.

    Yeast is very fickle and if you give it too much or too little to eat it will die. If it gets too warm it will die and if it gets to cold – the same.
    Adding water and sugar and yeast to a wine after it has been going for a while will leave you with something that tastes more like a watery yeast than the fruit you put in.

    The acidity and sweetness of the fruit also will contribute to how well the yeast takes hold, and for how long.

    I would try a recipe for a gallon and perfect that before I tried a 4 gallon batch. If you have a lot of fruit at one time, you can hedge your bets by making 4 separate batches and varying the sugar slightly. That way, one of them might be a winner 🙂

    Good luck with your winemaking.

  28. First time wine make — made in gallon jug with frozen grape
    concentrate, yeast and balloon been 8 1/2 wks. balloon
    wont deflate. HELP !

  29. Congratulations Don! It sounds as though there was quite a bit of sugar in your grape concentrate. If the balloon is still inflated by the fermentation, let it continue.
    If you definitely want it to stop so you can bottle it as is – add half a crushed campden tablet to the must and let it settle well before bottling. Once this is added, the yeast will die and no more sugar will be converted, so the results may be sweet.

  30. First attempt at making wine. 12fl oz concentrate, 3 cups sugar, 3 1/2 quarts water .25 is active yeast. Secured the balloon. Balloon is full after 6 weeks. No more bubbling really. There also seems to be some residue on the inside of the bottle where the bubbling has “gone down”. Is this normal? I’ll continue to wait for the balloon to deflate. Just want to make sure it’s not contaminated. Not sure how to detect if it’s contaminated as well. Any and all help would be great. Thank you very much in advance…

    1. Hello Vinni,
      A bit of sediment is not unusual. There will be sediment from the yeasts as they die and settle. If the balloon is still inflated, the fomentation is continuing even though it is not obvious – a very good sign after 6 weeks.
      If you have stringy bits in the liquid, that would be a sign of contamination and possibly vinegar but the only real test will be when you decant to bottles and can have a taste. Good luck with the waiting.

      1. Thank you so much for your very quick response. When you mention “decant to bottles”, should I strain the wine to remove sediment? If so, what might be the best way? Also, should the wine set a bit after to “age” a bit…?

        1. Vinni – Once the fomentation stops (the balloon flops over), the wine should be clear.
          If you are careful not to disturb the sediment, you can transfer the wine (with tubing) into bottles without straining it. This is the best.
          If you disturb the sediment, you can wait for it to settle and try again; or strain it through filter paper into the bottles.
          Letting the wine sit in bottles is the tricky part. Once you have a recipe that you have made before you can tell how it does with ‘aging’.
          For your first try – If it tastes good when you bottle it, drink some and put some aside to age. Get cracking on a new batch.
          If it tastes just OK then put it aside to age and try tasting again in a few months.

          Don’t forget to write down what you are doing so that you repeat or avoid it in the future.

  31. I made my wine with one gallon of Welches grape juice, three cups of white sugar, and one tbs of baker’s yeast two weeks ago. Yesterday the balloon flopped over. It seems a bit early for it to be finished fermenting. The bottle is very cloudy. I could strain it into another bottle, but I am a confused about the stage it is in at the moment.

    Should I add more yeast and sugar?

    1. Hello Sheila.
      It might be worth giving the mixture a swirl and looking to see if there is any evidence of activity in it – bubbles on the glass and surface. If it is still very cloudy it will do no harm as it is not ready to bottle.
      Two weeks is very fast for fermentation to be complete.

      Is the seal on the balloon airlock good? The balloon will not hold gases if there is a leak, for example at the neck of the demijohn.

      Did you have very hot weather when the wine was started? Yeasts are particular about temperature. The yeast may have given its all and died – hence the cloudiness.

      If the must smells sweet there is a lot of sugar left and you might want to leave the mixture to settle for a week then decant into a new container with new yeast.

      I hope this helps and good luck!

  32. I would like to put my wine in canning jars once the process is complete. I usually fill the jars and then boil them to sterilize and seal them. If I boil the jars full of wine will it ruin the wine? Will heating wine after it is done spoil it. I just want to be able to store it outside of the refrigerator. I do not have any wine bottles, but I have quite a few canning jars.

    1. Hello Sheila.

      Boiling the wine is not a good idea. You will destroy the taste and very nature of the wine.
      If you must use your canning jars, can you seal them with waxed paper sheets (or maybe cling film?) You don’t want to sterilise the wine – just keep the air out.
      I have not tried this myself. I would be more inclined to sterilize a juice container. I have no idea how long canning jars would be good to store in.
      Please let me know how this goes.

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