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The process of making wine can be as complex or as simple as you would like to make it. The beginning wine maker can spend thousands of dollars on a complete professional setup, including a fruit press, bottling equipment, special carboys and test equipment. Or, on the simpler side, a clean bucket, some fruit juice, yeast and a few dollars investment in tubing and a fermentation lock will yield a perfectly acceptable homemade wine.

Sterilize the bucket and any utensils that will come into contact with the wine. This is the most important step in wine making. The process of fermentation is meant to promote the growth of the yeast that will turn the sugars in the juice into ethanol. These same conditions will promote the growth of any bacteria allowed to contaminate the juice. Bacterial contamination will render the finished wine unpalatable and unsafe to drink.

Pour 4 gallons of fruit juice,1 gallon of water and 1 lb. of sugar into the bucket.

Stir the mixture thoroughly until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Sprinkle one tablespoon of yeast over the top of the liquid. Cover with a clean piece of muslin or lint-free dish towel.

Place the bucket in a dark, draft-free location for two days. The initial stage of fermentation is rapid. A foamy head will form on top of the liquid. This head will begin to shrink on the second or third day. When this happens, remove the cloth from the top of the bucket and attach the fermentation lock.

Use an electric drill to make a hole in the center of the bucket lid slightly smaller in diameter than the shaft of the fermentation lock. Insert the fermentation lock into the hole in the lid and snap the lid onto the bucket. Half-fill the fermentation lock with water.

Leave the bucket in a dark, draft-free location until the water in the fermentation lock quits bubbling. When the bubbling ceases, fermentation is complete.

Use a clean siphon tube to pour the wine into bottles. Keep the end of the siphon tube above the sediment in the bottom of the bucket. The sediment is not harmful, but it will affect the clarity of the wine.


Avoid using commercial fruit juices with preservatives. These chemicals are meant to retard spoilage and can prevent fermentation as well.


Chlorine bleach should be avoided when sterilizing equipment. Chlorine residue will kill the yeast and prevent fermentation. When Chlorine must be used, rinse the equipment thoroughly and allow it to dry before use.

About the Author

Finn McCuhil

Finn McCuhil is a freelance writer based in Northern Michigan. He worked as a reporter and columnist in South Florida before becoming fascinated with computers. After studying programming at University of South Florida, he spent more than 20 years heading up IT departments at three tier-one automotive suppliers. He now builds wooden boats in the north woods.