How to Ferment Grape Juice


If you want to try your hand at winemaking, you can make great tasting wine at home using just a few pieces of equipment and two natural ingredients -- grape juice and yeast. While the naturally occurring yeast in the grapes will ferment without any help, the result is never certain. It is therefore easier and more convenient to add additional wine yeast to the liquid to ensure a more efficient and predictable ferment. After just a few weeks, the naturally occurring sugar will be converted into alcohol to produce a delicious rose or white wine that can be enjoyed at home at a fraction of store prices.

Things You'll Need

  • Campden Tablets
  • 1-gallon bucket
  • 1 gallon red or white grape juice
  • Winemaking yeast
  • 2 1-gallon fermentation vessels
  • Air lock and bung
  • Plastic siphon tubing and wand

Preparation and Initial Fermentation

  • Prepare a sterilizing solution by dissolving five crushed Campden tablets in 1 pint of hot water in a 1-gallon bucket.

  • Thoroughly wash a fermentation vessel and rinse well with the sterilizing solution. Return the solution to the bucket and rinse the bung and air lock in it.

  • Pour the grape juice into the vessel and add one crushed Campden tablet. Swirl well to mix and seal with the bung and air lock. Leave to stand for 24 hours at room temperature.

  • Add wine yeast according to the manufacturer's directions. Swirl well to mix and replace the bung and air lock.

  • Place the vessel in a warm room for approximately 10 days. Rose wines ferment best from 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit and white wines from 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Fermentation should start between 8 and 20 hours later when small air bubbles will be seen passing through the air lock.

Secondary Fermentation and Finishing

  • Prepare sterilizing solution as described in step 1 of preparation. Thoroughly wash the second fermentation vessel and tubing and rinse well with the solution.

  • Siphon the wine from the full vessel into the empty one, leaving any sediment that has settled. Replace the bung and air lock.

  • Place in a warm room again so that secondary fermentation can take place. Wait until the ferment has completely stopped and there are no air bubbles passing through the lock. Be patient as each wine ferments at its own rate.

  • Allow the wine to clear and then transfer to clean, sterile glass bottles.

Tips & Warnings

  • Citric acid is good to have on hand when making homemade wine. It can be added to the sterilizing solution to enhance it or added to wine before bottling to increase the wine's tartness.

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