How to Make Wine From Grape Juice

Updated on December 5, 2019
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A scientist turned engineer, Dave started making wine in 1970. His approach combines simplicity with sound scientific principles.

Learn how you can make wine from supermarket juice.
Learn how you can make wine from supermarket juice. | Source

Welcome to the Home Winery

In this article, I'm going to walk you through a safe and reliable method of making fresh, wholesome wine from supermarket grape juice. The recipe provided uses no special equipment, chemicals, or artificial additives.

Why Bother Making Your Own Wine?

I live in an Islamic country where wine is not a supermarket commodity. But in most countries, wine is a supermarket commodity, in which case, why make your own? You will have your own reasons for making wine from grape juice, but here are a few of mine:

  • It's a fun time, feels creative and fills the kitchen with summery smells.
  • It's very cheap, wholesome and surprisingly good.

Preservative-Free Wine

Guaranteed! This wine will contain no chemical additives or artificial preservatives. That is a promise you will not hear from many commercial winemakers. Your wine is made with pure fruit juice and therefore (if drunk in moderation), will do you nothing but good.

Ingredients

The good news is, you will hardly need any equipment at all.

You will need:

  • One 5-litre (or 1-gallon) plastic drinking water container (not five separate bottles)
  • One plastic pouring funnel
  • Four 1-litre (2-pint) cartons of red or white grape juice with no preservatives
  • 500 grams (18 ounces) of ordinary, granulated white sugar
  • One sachet of general-purpose wine yeast

Can You Use Any Kind of Yeast to Make Wine?

No. It is very important that you do not use any other kind of yeast to make your wine. Baking yeast will ferment, however, it is likely to stop too soon, leaving you with an oversweet, understrength concoction (often with a bready smell). Much the same is true of brewer's yeast, except the product will smell like beer. What a surprise!

If you are lucky enough to have a winemaker's supplier nearby, that's where to find your wine yeast. Don't be intimidated by the expert salesperson—one sachet of general-purpose wine yeast is all you need. If they offer you Campden tablets, vitamin B6, a hydrometer, a thermometer, a fermentation trap and a snake of plastic tubing, just smile sweetly and say 'no'.

If you have no local winemaker's supplier, there are plenty of online resources available listed under 'winemaking supplies'. As for me, I get my wine yeast and other supplies directly from Amazon.

Lalvin Dried Wine Yeast EC #1118 (Pack of 10)
Lalvin Dried Wine Yeast EC #1118 (Pack of 10)
This is all the wine yeast you'll ever need. It is a quick starter and a good fermenter with a wide temperature tolerance. Originally a champagne yeast, it clears and settles well. Best of all—it's very cheap!
 

Preparation

Your grape juice should be kept at room temperature, not in the fridge. If you have placed your grape juice in the fridge, make sure to take it out and let it get back to room temperature before continuing with the wine-making process.

Drink or dispose of the 5 litres of water. Most people prefer to do this over a few days. When the bottle is empty, there is no reason to rinse it out. It's clean because it was full of drinking water, remember?

Wine made from grape juice with no preservatives is both tasty and healthy.
Wine made from grape juice with no preservatives is both tasty and healthy. | Source

Day 1: Warm the Juice and Add the Yeast

Pour about half of your first carton of grape juice into the empty 5-litre bottle.

Add one teaspoonful of wine yeast, put the top on the bottle and shake it to buggery. (This is the correct technical term for this process as used by winemakers around the world, though a small handful still refer to it as aeration.)

Leave the 5-litre bottle in a warmish place and take the rest of the day off. (Yeast is a living organism. Its comfort zone is much like ours. Think short-sleeve temperature. You don't need to keep it in the dark, but direct sunlight will spoil it.)

Day 2: Prepare the Sugar Syrup

You'll notice the 5-litre bottle will have started bubbling. Add the other half carton of the first juice as well as one other full carton, so the 5-litre bottle is now a little under half full. Tighten the bottle cap then back it off half a turn. This is very important. Fermentation produces a lot of carbon dioxide gas which must be allowed to escape.

Take a 2-litre coke bottle and do whatever you want with the contents. I'm told it goes well with a Big Mac, whatever that is. We need it empty, that's all.

Pour 500 grams (18 ounces) of sugar into the empty coke bottle. A plastic funnel makes this a lot easier. Pour boiled tap water or drinking water onto the sugar until the bottle is about half full (1 litre or 2 pints). Shake it until all the sugar is dissolved. Don't add it to the wine yet.

Day 4-5: Combine All Components

By now, the wine should be fermenting well. Add one more carton of grape juice and all of the sugar syrup to the 5-litre bottle. The amount of liquid should still be below the shoulder of the bottle. Swirl the bottle to mix in the sugar syrup. Tighten the bottle cap then back it off half a turn, as before. That's it for today. You should still have one unopened carton of grape juice.

Coming along nicely
Coming along nicely | Source

Day 10 or So: Monitor Your Wine

By day 10 or so, the liveliest fermentation should have eased off, so it's safe to add the last carton of juice. The 5-litre bottle should be filled to the bottom of the neck. Do the same drill as mentioned before with the bottle cap. Now, you just have to wait. Check the bottle cap every day, and watch for bubbling, showing signs of completion. It typically takes another two or three weeks for the wine to be complete.

Final Days: Chill the Wine, Bottle and Enjoy!

When the bubbling in your 5-litre bottle has stopped (or at least slowed to the occasional bubble), place the bottle in the fridge (not the freezer!) and leave it for about three days. The cold temperature will halt the fermentation and help the yeast settle to the bottom of the bottle.

After three days have passed, line up enough empty bottles to hold the wine. Very, very carefully, so as not to disturb the sediment, pour the wine into the empty bottles using the funnel. It helps to have someone else hold the bottles while moving the funnel from bottle to bottle. Fill all the bottles in a single pass, without tipping the fermenting bottle. This way, you won't disturb the sediment.

The wine can be drunk straight away, but it will improve in the bottle for several months. It's best not to consider 'laying it down' or any such nonsense. It's not that sort of wine.

Cheers! You're now a winemaker.

My house red, reflecting
My house red, reflecting | Source

Will It Be Any Good?

I'll be honest, your homemade wine may taste like a decent vin ordinaire, which is expected and acceptable. It will be on par with the staple drink of millions of everyday folk throughout Europe—because that's what we're making—everyday wine.

It is, of course, possible to make truly fine wine. But to do this, you will need to follow a slightly more involved procedure:

  • Buy a hillside with an ideal aspect, as well as good soil and climate.
  • Terrace the hillside and plant your vines.
  • Protect the vines from frosts, hailstorms, insects and neighbors.
  • Oh, and start about thirty years ago!

Of course, the above is not our goal for this article. Making wine from grape juice is a much simpler and less time-consuming solution to making a steady supply of wine.

Comments Are Welcome

Before asking a question, why not read through the comments below? I have already answered many questions, so you may find your answer is already there!

If you do try making wine by this method and run into any problem, describe it in a comment and I'll do my best to help, or at least explain what's gone wrong.

If you have a go and it works out well (which is most likely), share your success to encourage others to join the winemaking community.

I'm also happy to answer queries about home winemaking. Although my starter method is simple, it is based on sound principles. Advanced winemaking involves more equipment and processes. If the interest is there, I'll base a few more articles on the finer points.

Questions & Answers

  • I am very keen to use your wine recipe making wine from grape juice. I live in South Africa where we are currently under lockdown and the sale of alcohol has been banned for some strange reason. I, therefore, cannot buy wine yeast and will have to make do with normal baking or all-purpose yeast. What can I do to make the wine palatable if using ordinary yeast?

    Even using baker's yeast, the finished wine should not be unpalatable, especially if you pour it off the sediment into a fresh container and rest it for a few weeks before drinking. Alternatively, you can harvest live yeast from fresh muscat grapes: Crush five or six perfectly ripe grapes in a small glass bowl. Pour in enough grape juice to cover the grapes and cover the bowl with a saucer. Leave in a warmish place overnight. Next day, follow my method exactly but adding the contents of the small bowl in place of the dried yeast. Note- this is not guaranteed to work every time and there is a small risk of spoilage, but it can give excellent results, much better than baker's yeast ever will.

  • I am in South Africa so am in lockdown. I am on day 4 and realized that the last one and a half liters of grape juice has preservatives, the first was okay. What happens now that I've started making wine from grape juice with preservatives?

    You might be lucky. If the fermentation is strong, it might continue in spite of the preservatives. But if it sticks (stops bubbling) which I think is likely, there is nothing you can do to restart it. It will be drinkable, but weak and too sweet. All you can do is start again and read the labels more carefully! Put it down to experience.

  • Do you know what the alcohol content was of your wine made of grape juice?

    This wine will lie in the range 11% to 13% if fermented to dryness as recommended. The exact figure depends on the grape juice and to a lesser extent on the yeast variety. I explain this topic fully in this article: How to Control the Strength of Homemade Beer, Wine and Cider.

  • If you have fermentation do you need to add the sugar? Would you get a less sweet, less alcoholic wine by adding a further liter of grape juice instead?

    If you don't add the sugar you will end up with a wine of around 6% to 7% ABV. This is OK, but it will not keep well and will not mature like a balanced wine. The sugar (as per my method) is all fermented to dryness so does not make the wine sweet. It results in a balanced wine in the range 12% to 13%.

  • What brand of grape juice that I can get in Saudi Arabia would you recommend?

    My first choice is KDD juice. It's from Kuwait, but it's available in most GCC countries. Rauch is also a very good but more expensive brand. Almarai and Safa are also good. Remember to always read the label for "no preservatives."

Comments

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    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      40 hours ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Sarah, SA shouldn't have sourcing issues - they make plenty of wine there! It's mainly the Islamic countries where you have to make do with bread yeast or harvest your own wine yeast from fresh grapes.

    • profile image

      Sarah V 

      41 hours ago

      I am from South Africa and I found red wine yeast from a supplier in Cape Town and they couriered it to me in a few days.

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      4 days ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Pietro - the risk of oxidation is higher but if you tighten the cap and refrigerate for 3 days as soon as the fermentation is complete, then decant into separate bottles, filled to the neck, you shouldn't have a problem.

    • profile image

      Pietro Bomba 

      4 days ago

      Would using a larger, 10 litre, container for the same recipe create any challenges in the fermentation, such as impacts from too much oxygen? I prefer not doubling the amounts until tested;)

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      9 days ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Hi Graham - yeast isn't an ingredient, it's an agent. It grows by replication until it is in equilibrium with its own rate of dying. So the initial quantity is not important. As a guide, use half to one level teaspoonful per 5 litre batch.

    • profile image

      grahamfalken 

      10 days ago

      Hi Dave, in your recipe you say a sachet of wine yeast, I have a bigger quantity, so how much in grams exactly, please?

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      13 days ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Retrodude - yes, 750g in 6 litres of the juice you specified should be fine. 8 years is a long time in winemaking!

    • profile image

      retrodude 

      13 days ago

      Hi Dave, thanks for your quick reply!

      It's unlikely you'd remember, the comment I was referring to was 8 years ago, I sometimes can't remember what I've said and done the day before, let alone 8 years ago! :)

      Just one more question, when you say I could increase my sugar addition to 650g, is that for your 5 litre recipe?

      We can only get 6 Litre water bottles out here, so am I right in assuming I can add 750g of sugar instead of the 600g like I did in my last batch?

      Thanks again for your help, it's much appreciated! :)

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      2 weeks ago from Kyle, Scotland

      retrodude - I'm not sure which comment you are referencing, but typically grape juice will have between 120 and 140 g/l of fermentable sugar. Four litres will contain around 520g. Add another 500g and the total sugar content (104g/l) will come close to 12% when fermented to dryness. Using your juice at 125 g/l and following the method exactly, you could increase the sugar addition to 650g and allow an extra few days to ferment to dryness, aiming for 13% ABV. But I suggest you check out my article on ABV, here https://delishably.com/beverages/How-Strong-is-my-...

    • profile image

      retrodude 

      2 weeks ago

      Hi Dave, many thanks for your fantastic article, it's so easy and simple to use!

      I finished my first batch a week ago, and it seems to have turned out ok, it isn't sweet, but not as dry as I'd like it, and there's an ever so slight after taste of grape juice, if that makes sense? I'm hoping that will change after I've left the bottles to age for a few weeks.

      My mate reckons it's something to do with the amount of sugar, he thinks maybe not enough, so I looked into it..

      I'm using Malee grape juice out here in Thailand, apparently there are 125 grams of natural sugar per one litre carton, I got this info from their customer service....

      I noticed in one of your earlier answers you base this recipe on each carton containing only 50 grams, so I'm a tad confused, should I be adding more or maybe adding less sugar than your recipe?

      Just to add, I made a 6 litre batch, so I used 600 grams of sugar instead of 500 and two litres of juice on the fourth day... The bubbling stopped just inside two weeks (after the last carton on day 10), but I left it for just under 3 weeks to make sure it had all fermented.

      Apologies if this has already been asked and I missed it, I've been through the whole thread and couldn't find a question similar to mine.

      Thanks :)

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      3 weeks ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Idris - 750g sugar plus 4 litres of juice is close to the maximum fermentable sugar content. You have refrigerated it before the fermentation was quite complete and it has restarted on warming up after refrigeration. It is sparkling because the vessel was closed after refrigeration so the new CO₂ dissolved under pressure and sparkles when poured.

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      IdrisVanWilder 

      3 weeks ago

      Hi, i have posted before on the success of this recipe and the variations we have tried and i am back again... but with a query. i have further experimented with and alrabbi mixed berry juice x2l dantya red grape juice x2l and 1l sugar water with 750g sugar. the yeast i harvested from my first batch, the wine was in the fridge for 4 days and i decanted it, since it has been in a cool dark place. However i have managed to produce a really nice tasting fruity sparkling wine with a port like taste. i love it and our friends i tried it out on did too.

      my plea for help is how did i manage it and how do i do it again and has anyone else managed to produce sparkling wine from this recipe and if so how?? non of my others have turned out sparkling?? the only think i can think of id the heat in saudi at the moment or the fact i let it ferment a while longer.

      hope someone can help

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      6 weeks ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Kate - I put the bottle caps into the funnel and pour boiling water over them and through the funnel. I also swill out the bottles with boiled water. The wine itself is around 12% ABV which is a hostile environment for most spoilage organisms. After capping the bottles, I wipe any drips from around the necks and flash-rinse the (closed) caps and neck with boiled water.

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      Kate 

      6 weeks ago

      Do you sterilize the bottles and funnel?

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      7 weeks ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Shana - I assume you are talking about clear food-grade screw-top plastic bottles similar to the one in my "coming along nicely" photograph in the article? If so, there is absolutely nothing to worry about. In fact, because the juice will have been pasteurised and bottled under sterile conditions, it is extremely unlikely for spoilage to occur.

    • profile image

      Shana Chandler 

      7 weeks ago

      A 'friend' expressed that he thought my wine could potentially be poisonous because it's fermenting in the original juice bottles. Please help me explain why this simply is not true, especially when I plan to transfer into glass when it's finished.

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      7 weeks ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Wessel - good call! I'm assuming 1-litre soda bottles for the bottling stage. You'll find that a few days after bottling the bottles will firm up from the pressure inside. This is the advantage of plastic over glass. With a glass bottle you can't tell if it's pressurised without opening it.

    • profile image

      Wessel 

      8 weeks ago

      Hi Dave. Best home-made wine making page on the web. Thanks a stack.

      I've got two batches going side by side, one your recipe and one 'throw it all together' recipe. Am super keen to taste the difference.

      I have a follow on question to the sparkling one below. You say to use 1 cube of sugar (I'm assuming 5ml) into a soda bottle. The question is what size soda bottle (one or two litre)? Need to make sure i get the sugar ratio correct.

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      2 months ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Jenny - it sounds good. The exact time depends on the yeast and the ambient temperature. If the activity has virtually stopped you can safely put it in the fridge. Hope you enjoy drinking it.

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      Jenny63 

      2 months ago

      I have never made wine before. Followed your recipe, used bread yeast as we can not buy wine yeast in our country and 100% grape juice, no preservatives. I put a pipe in the lid which is submerged into a bottle of water so that I can monitor the bubbles. It is now 8 days after adding the last 1lt juice and the bubbling has slowed down tremendously and I can see that the wine seems clearer and sediment has settled. Is it ready to go in the fridge for 3 days? if so is it okay that it has stopped so early. Thanks for your recipe, enjoy making my first wine and cant wait to taste it..

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      2 months ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Idris - thanks for telling me :) The key to successful experimenting is only to change one thing at a time, and make notes. That way, you'll soon find out what works best for you. Glad you're enjoying it!

    • profile image

      IdrisVanWilder 

      2 months ago

      Just a thanks for this I have used this to make Red/White/Rose/mixed berry and even peach and pear. We have even tried substituting 50% of the sugar for honey. i'm not normally a wine drinker so I couldn't tell you if its good or not, I just know there are some flavours I prefer. the peach and mixed berry. however my husband is, he seems to enjoy it all. due to delays in postage we have reused harvested yeast, lets see how that turns out. :)

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      2 months ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Rob - if you are going to add yeast nutrient, add it at the start, even before you add the yeast. It is most useful in the early growth stage.

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      Rob 

      2 months ago

      Thank you for all this good information. It's not easy to find solid winemaking info. The yeast I purchased is exactly the same East you recommend. I also purchased some yeast nutrient along with it. I was thinking about adding it to the sugar water. What are your thoughts on the matter?

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      2 months ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Rob- it is not necessary. It will rehydrate and start working when you add it to the juice. Just make sure the juice is at room temperature, 20 to 25 Celsius.

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      Rob 

      2 months ago

      The wine yeast packets that I have suggest you should rehydrate the yeast in lukewarm water. Is this really necessary or can I just add it to the first dose of juice as you explained?

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      2 months ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Nandz - ferment the wine to dryness, give it three days in the fridge to clear, pour it carefully into fresh plastic soda bottles. drop one sugar cube into each bottle, cap tightly, leave in a warmish place for a week then store in a cool place for at least a month. It will then be sparkling but of course there will be a slight yeast sediment in the bottle, so open and pour carefully. Don't use glass bottles and don't exceed one sugar cube per bottle.

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      Nandz 

      2 months ago

      Thanks for all the help but I did not see the answer to the question about how you can get the wine to be sparkling ?thanks so much

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      2 months ago from Kyle, Scotland

      George, yes, you can start a fermentation using the natural yeast on grape skins. It is not guaranteed to work and there is a small risk of spoilage, but it is still better than bread yeast. Crush about 20 grapes and put all of it (skins, pulp, pips, juice) into the fermenting jar along with about half a carton of juice. It should start fermenting in a couple of days. Then proceed as per the method in the article.

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      George 

      2 months ago

      What about using some table grapes during the first stage? Will clean table grapes be able to donate the yeast from their skins into the wine batch?

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      2 months ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Ade - yes, but sterilise the bottles first with Milton tablets and rinse with cool boiled water. I would also scald-sterilise the caps in boiling water.

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      2 months ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Cecilia - the cloudiness is yeast cells that have not settled to the bottom. Put it in the fridge for a few days to help it clear. But baking yeast is not as quick to clear as a good wine yeast.

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      Ade 

      3 months ago

      When bottling the wine can I use old screw top wine bottles and if not

      What do you recommend?

    • profile image

      Cecilia Anne Auld 

      3 months ago

      Hi..I made the wine using a simpler recipe as I had not seen your site..I will make it again using your method..however, this first batch of mine is cloudy..why would this have happened. I used 100% pure grape juice and bakers yeast as it is all I can get

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      3 months ago from Kyle, Scotland

      James, added ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is not a problem. Natural orange juice and blackcurrant juice are high in vit C but ferment quite happily.

    • profile image

      James Garraway 

      3 months ago

      some juices have no preservative but they do have antioxidants, in my case ascorbic acid. I know the anti slows down chemical change so presumably will also slow down sugar-alcohol conversion an should not be used .is that correct?

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      3 months ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Suzanne - I'm sure it will turn out fine. Welcome to your new hobby!

    • SuzanneVB profile image

      SuzanneVB 

      3 months ago from Scotland

      Hi Dave! Thank you very much for this great rundown. Never made wine before and am feeling like a kid again, making mud pies. Have used a lidded bucket instead of a water bottle for my first go and cut a hole for a bung and bubbler. It's all working perfectly! Last carton gone in, bubble thingy is burping politely and I'm absolutely thrilled. Will update when it's bottled and I'll have chugged down my first *ahem* thimbleful. What fun!

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      3 months ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Hi Mollie - thanks for the appreciation. The home-made fermentation traps sound good and I agree they are fun to watch. They were essential when glass demijohns were the amateur's standard fermenter, but nowadays food quality plastics with screw caps really are good enough. As an alternative to instant (baker's) yeast, you could try harvesting live yeast from fresh muscat grapes. If you scroll through the comments here, I have explained the method for doing this. You only have to do it once, because you can then harvest live yeast from the sediment of your first brew.

    • profile image

      Mollie Kruger 

      3 months ago

      I am from South Africa and in lock-down. At that beginning of April, I have started using your process and want to do a new batch every three days. The third batch was started yesterday. Obtaining juice is not a problem, I can go out to buy "food". Unfortunately, I will have to do with instant yeast for now, but hope to obtain proper wine yeast as soon as I can. Out of interest, I have made very basic fermentation traps by drilling a hole in the cap of each container and inserting a piece of clear plastic tubing (10mm diameter) using a force fit. It seals perfectly. I then create a loop using cable ties and fill the tube with a bit of water. It works very well. I love the sounds coming from the traps and being able to confirm the fermentation process. I also love the aroma in my kitchen. Thanks for sharing your process! From one engineer to another

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      Raoul 

      5 months ago

      Hi Dave-- thanks a million for this recipe, it's gone down a treat each time. I have been scales up to 20L each batch successfully. I have two questions for you:

      -is there any merit to adding a pint of tea (no extra water added, offset from syrup) to add tannins?

      -have you any tips for hard apple cider from same brands listed above?

      Cheers,

      R

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      5 months ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Juls - yes, you can. But it will then need more time to ferment out to dryness. Maybe two or three extra weeks. It will end up around 14% instead of 12%. But there is also a risk of it not fermenting right through and ending up sweet. Up to you!

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      Juls 

      5 months ago

      Hello Dave, thanks so much for the recipe. I was wondering if I can replace the 1 litre of water with grape juice instead or a total of 5 litre of grape juice? I suppose the ABV will be higher. Thanks for your help!

    • profile image

      Atari Dave 

      5 months ago

      Many thanks Dave, you’re a legend! We’re not drinkers of fizzy drinks but have quite a few empty empty wine bottles with screw caps so I can sterilise those and make sure the cap is firmly closed.

      Thanks again for keeping everything so simple! Cheers

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      5 months ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Dave - for this wine, clear plastic coke bottles with screw caps are fine. It's not designed for long-term maturing. Keep the bottles well away from sunlight.

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      Atari Dave 

      5 months ago

      Hi Dave, things are going well with my first batch thanks, just wondering what bottles and caps or corks you use for bottling the finished product, thanks.

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      Sarah 

      5 months ago

      Hi Dave - Well you make a good point. I do tend towards the rieslings and moscatos. To answer your question, It bubbled nicely after adding the yeast and bubbled vigorously for about 7 days after adding the sugar then settled down after about day 10, then I put it in the fridge. But I was wondering about mixing the sugar with 2 pints of water, perhaps I should have only used a small amount of water? to keep it a bit sweeter? Ah well, I will set the bottles in my basement with all my other fails and test them next winter. I can be very patient. Half the fun is in the experimentation after all. Thanks for responding and posting!

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      5 months ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Sarah - something doesn't add up here. The grape juice has a high sugar content. If you've ended up with something bitter, the sugar must have gone. But where? If there's no alcohol content what's happened to the sugar? I don't know what kind of wine you like, but is it possible you just don't like the taste of a young dry wine? Did it bubble for a few weeks? More info needed before I can even guess what has happened.

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      Sarah 

      5 months ago

      Well, this was only my second try at making wine and it was a colossal fail. I followed your instructions closely (had to convert units but I feel confident I got it right) and the wine is bitter, almost unpalatable with absolutely no alcohol content. Is there any way to fix this? Add more sugar and yeast? I guess at this point, I have nothing to lose so any experiment you might want to try here couldn't hurt.

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      7 months ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Erin, not days in advance. Make it the day before you want to use it. The only reason for the overnight is to make sure it has cooled to room temperature.

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      Erin 

      7 months ago

      Hello! I was wondering if there's a specific reason to make the sugar syrup days in advance? I would worry about it spoiling sitting out for two days, but if perhaps there was some sort of process the syrup has to go through to be ready to add I don't want to mess myself up by making it the day of.

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      7 months ago from Kyle, Scotland

      M Gregory - raw brown sugar will work. Use about 10% more than the specified amount for white. But it will give the wine a caramel flavour and aroma which may or may not be to your liking.

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      M Gregory 

      7 months ago

      If i use raw brown sugar would that be a good substitute? Also what would the conversion be?

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      8 months ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Smith Wethers - Even opening a bottle/carton of juice in the vicinity of an actively fermenting batch is likely to cause it to start fermenting, as the air around the ferment is full of viable yeast cells. Nothing to worry about. You can safely add it to the bulk of the ferment.

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      Smith Whethers 

      8 months ago

      Dave - Great article, I've had success twice. The first time, I scaled up your recipe to about 6 liters, and the second time to 5 gallons. This time, I decided to use white rather than red grape juice to experiment a little.

      Since I scaled up, on day 5 I poured in a half of a bottle of juice in addition to the other full ones and sugar solution. When I came back on day 10, the half bottle appeared to have fermented itself!

      The plastic bottle was expanded, there were bubbles on the surface, and a ton of gas released when I opened it. The batch smells alcoholic as does the half of the bottle. I haven't added it yet out of caution.

      Is this something to be worried about? Or is it possible a small amount of liquid from the batch made it into the bottle while I was pouring the first half? I held it relatively close while pouring to reduce splashing everywhere but not to a level where it seems this would be possible, even so it would have been a tiny amount.

      The bottle is 2.83 L and the yeast is Red Star Premier Rouge, which reports to be designed for reds, if that makes a difference.

      Any help is appreciated.

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      9 months ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Tony - I do it for three reasons 1) to minimise the chance of spoilage. The incremental method maximises the amount of active yeast per unit volume. 2) to minimise panic. If you add everything at once, you will see no bubbles for maybe 3 days, as the CO2 that is formed dissolves in the large bulk of juice. Bubbles don't appear until the juice is saturated with dissolved CO2. Beginners then panic and start adding extra yeast, or worse. 3) to protect carpets. If you fill the jar too soon, when fermentation peaks it is likely to froth over the top, making a sticky mess. I don't want to be held responsible for that. You see, there is method in my madness- I know what I'm doing! ;)

    • profile image

      Tony 

      9 months ago

      Out of interest, why do you add the ingredients in increments? ie, once fermentation has begun, why not add everything?

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      9 months ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Berto - it has a good chance of working, however, it might not start bubbling as quickly as you would like, as the new juice will have to saturate with dissolved CO2 before bubbles start to form. Have patience!

    • profile image

      Berto 

      9 months ago

      I realized my math was wrong when I was making my syrup.....

      I figured that all out though. I've added the syrup and juice to what I have and hope that it starts to ferment again (forgot to mention I used a whole pack of yeast that's for 23 liters). If it doesn't I'm gonna add that re-start packet of yeast, do what it says on the packet and hope for the best.

      Any tips?

    • profile image

      Berto 

      9 months ago

      Hey Dave great article.

      When I started make wine using your recipe for the first time I realized I was using too big of a container (19 liter) not wanting to waist what I started I continued ahead with your recipe and measurements.

      Now I'm at day 8 with 4.5 liters (the bottles I found were in 1.5 liters) and after reading through the comments I know I can't leave the empty space because of oxidation and I'm guessing transfering what I have to smaller bottles will also cause oxidation.

      So, to save what I have would I'm thinking I could add (pretty sure measurements are right) a restarter pack, with 9 liters of juice and 1,750g of syrup in essence going back to day 4/5. Then add my last 4.5 liters at day 10 or so giving me a liter buffer in my bottle.

      Do you think this will work or would you suggest something different?

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      10 months ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Ben, most countries use litres and kilograms. This makes life easy! USA still uses gallons and ounces. It can be hard to find a 5 litre vessel in US. The nearest would be a gallon which is less than 5 litres. This is the Internet. We have to cope with many cultures!

    • profile image

      Ben 

      10 months ago

      Thanks very much for the easy recipes.

      My question is that you mentioned one 5 Litter or 1 Gallon.

      Is the 5 Litter = 1 Gallon?

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      14 months ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Thanks Keith & JW and best of luck with your efforts.

    • profile image

      KeithF 

      14 months ago

      Thanks! Your recipe is the best and so easy. I have done a lot more work than this with poor results.

    • profile image

      JW 

      15 months ago

      Thanks a ton for your help... Cheers :)

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      15 months ago from Kyle, Scotland

      JW - Enjoy KSA and remember not to criticise MBS in public! You shouldn't have a problem hand-carrying a small amount of yeast. You don't need much because you can 'harvest' excess yeast from the sediment of your first batch to use in your second, and so on. You can also start a batch using the natural yeast on the skin of fresh muscat grapes, but I wouldn't recommend this to a beginner. Good luck!

    • profile image

      JW 

      15 months ago

      Hey Dave, firstly thank you for this invaluable resource and the time you have taken to reply to so many queries... may be this has been asked before .. but as a newbie i am afraid so thought better to confirm...going to bring some wine yeast (3-4 packets lavlin) on my next vacation into the driest country in the planet aka the kingdom...it should be okay right? any tips?

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      15 months ago from Kyle, Scotland

      ken - the method is for 5 litres. It is easier to work in litres and grams. You can use gallons and ounces if you must, but be aware that these units are not standardised internationally.

    • profile image

      ken 

      15 months ago

      One gallon water jug is 120 oz. 4-one litre is 135 0z of grape juice is 136 oz.!?

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      15 months ago from Kyle, Scotland

      jone pe, I've never used Chinese yeast, but any wine yeast will grow in the fermenting vessel until all the sugar is used up or the alcohol level is as high as it can tolerate. Then the fermentation stops and the yeast sinks to the bottom. When the wine is clear, it is also free of yeast.

    • profile image

      jone pe 

      15 months ago

      Hi

      5 grams of dry Chinese wine was added to the yeast

      1 liter and a half of Welch's Grape Juice.

      Note that 10 grams of dry Chinese yeast brews 50 kg of red grapes.

      Is it a risk of increasing yeast in wine ??

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      17 months ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Hi Steve - in UK, I use Sodium Metabisulphite solution for sterilising. But where this is hard to find, e.g. in UAE & Qatar, I use Milton tablets (or equivalent). These are available everywhere as they are intended for sterilising babies' bottles. Use as directed and rinse after in cooled boiled water.

    • profile image

      Steve F. 

      17 months ago

      Hi Dave - Thanks so much for this!

      I know the water container is clean, but do you sanitize the wine bottles or funnel? If so, do you have a go-to product? Thanks.

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      18 months ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Robert - it's possible that the juice contains preservatives, or was too warm, or that the yeast was no longer viable. This can happen if it gets damp or too warm in storage. If you are sure the juice is OK, you can add an actively fermenting yeast starter made with new yeast and juice.

    • profile image

      Robert Scott 

      18 months ago

      The last wine I made was fine and I’ve bottled it for a couple of months.

      However this time the wine hardly bubbled after adding yeast and shaking. I’ve just added sugar syrup and hopefully it will bubble soon.

      Anything I can do or should it be ok?

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      19 months ago from Kyle, Scotland

      PcolaBill - Rauch is quite intense, heavy juice. But are you sure you have fermented it through to dryness? If it is still sweet, it might just need longer to ferment. At this time of year (in the N. Hemisphere) cooler average temperatures need longer fermentation times.

    • profile image

      PcolaBill 

      19 months ago

      I have used the Rauch red grape juice and the finished product is pretty thick, more like juice than wine. Is there a way to thin it with out messing it up.

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      19 months ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Troy - I don't think Customs will be a problem. You should be OK.

    • profile image

      Troy 

      19 months ago

      Thank you, I will try and will share my experience.

      Q- I’m planning to order Wine Yeast online, will be there any issue with the costumes?

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      19 months ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Roger - yes, it's certainly proved a popular article. Having recently retired, I'm thinking about putting together an e-book of techniques and recipes. We'll see.

    • profile image

      Roger 

      19 months ago

      Thank you Dave. I will be careful next time. How do you feel? - 8 years back you posted this recipe and till date you are receiving comments from all over the world.. Isn't that something great.

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      19 months ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Roger - the extra water explains the absolute dryness. Also, the wine is probably closer to 11% than the target 12.5%. It should still be OK and will improve for a month or two, but don't add extra sugar to the bottles, or they will referment, possibly blowing the corks or at least bubbling on pouring and remaining cloudy.

    • profile image

      Roger 

      19 months ago

      Dave.Thanks for the response. The wine is very dry, no sweetness at all and very hard. I did a mistake on Day 2, along with 500gm sugar i added 1 liter of water - so the total sugar syrup became 1.5 liter. Wondering if this messed up everything Anyways I will wait for few more weeks. Do you recommend adding more sugar to individual bottles. Is it a good idea.

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      19 months ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Roger - I don't recommend brown sugar as it can leave a bitter taste. White granulated sugar is best. Are you sure it is sour (acidic, like lemon juice) or maybe just very dry (no sweetness)? If it has just finished, let it rest for a few weeks. Even a little time will soften it.

    • profile image

      Darren Samy 

      20 months ago

      Hi Dave, I was so excited to try this recipe. Unfortunately, my final decanted wine is very very sour. I tried mixing some sugar to a glass of wine for testing. Taste got better but the sourness still lingers. I used Rauch, wine yeast and brown sugar as main ingredients. Any suggestion to improve the taste. Thanks Roger

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      20 months ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Judy - I don't live in the States so I can't comment on what's available. Most grape juices will work fine as long as there are no added preservatives or antioxidants. Always check the label!

    • profile image

      Judy Coleman 

      20 months ago

      What brand of light or dark grape juice do you recommend in the States?

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      22 months ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Yes, you can use any grape juice that is free of preservatives.

    • profile image

      bam-bam1969 

      22 months ago

      I use a steam juicer to process my grapes into juice. I have both Concord red and Niagra white grape juice that I would like to make in to wine. Can I use this juice to make wine with this recipe?

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      2 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      No, but you will have to do a lot of shaking to dissolve the sugar! Honey is easier.

    • profile image

      yazzzz 

      2 years ago

      Do u boil the cranberry juice though ?

    • profile image

      yazzzz 

      2 years ago

      drooling over the recipe, thanks Dr Dave, in the process , will keep you posted on the results, thanks a million

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      2 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Hi Yazzz, just follow the red wine method but use cranberry juice instead of water to dissolve the sugar. If you want, instead of 500g sugar you can use 250g sugar and 250g honey. It will take a little longer to finish and clear, but I like it. KDD grape juice, any cranberry with no preservatives.

    • profile image

      yazzzz 

      2 years ago

      Hey Dr. Dave,

      thanks again for the great blog. we cant thank you enough. i want to try your cranberry/grapr blend tha you have mentioned earlier. whats your recipe including the juice brands you are using. xoxo

      Yaz

    • profile image

      Ahmed 

      2 years ago

      Dear Dave,

      First of all, thank you so much for this blog. It changed my lifestyle and saved me a lot of money.

      I have two questions regarding a previous patch and a current one.

      Previous patch: I followed your instructions and completed 3 full weeks after day 10. However, I couldn’t leave the container in the fridge and left it for 5 days in a very cold closed room. The wine turned out very good but it has a lot of carbon bubbles. I tried to shake the bottles to release the gas, it get reduced but not total gas release. What do you think think went wrong? Is it the refrigerator step?

      Current patch: i am using 12L container as well using the yeast from previous patch with same container. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do the work of day 10 for traveling reason and now it is day 19. Is it okay to pour juice as in day 10? Do you think it is safe to reuse the same container?

      Thank you so much once again.

    • profile image

      KSA expat 

      2 years ago

      Thanks!

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      2 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Lorraine - yes, but use 750g of sugar, not 500. I prefer a grape/cranberry blend, but if you fancy the pure cranberry, go for it!

    • profile image

      Lorraine 

      2 years ago

      can i use the same recipe to make cranberry wine from 100%

      cranberry juice

    • Paraglider profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave McClure 

      2 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      KSA first, thanks for the supportive message! White wine is all about freshness, brightness, youth ;) Reds can be heavier and deeper in flavour. True white wine can only be made with freshly pressed grape juice. Supermarket juice is always pasteurised. This process makes it darker and heavier. The freshness is gone forever. You'll never replicate the gooseberry crispness of a Pinot Grigio using pasteurised juice. You are right. The reds work better.

      Using harvested yeast, there are no special procedures to follow. The main thing is to sterilise the small bottle you keep it in before you harvest it.

    • profile image

      KSA expat 

      2 years ago

      Hi Dave - I just wanted to say thanks, I have been revisiting this page regularly since 2014 when I first came to Saudi Arabia and still it is my go to reference.

      As there are now 873 comments I have to apologize for asking what I’m sure has already been asked:

      1) I find that following the recipe with red grape juice yields a terrific result, but doing the same with white grape juice does not seem to turn out as good. Is this just my personal taste or do you have any tips or tweaks when using white versus red? I note that I have never been a wine connoisseur so maybe this is how it’s supposed to be.

      2) what’s the process for harvesting used yeast? I read your comment about capping the used yeast in the fridge but what is the procedure for using this for subsequent batches? Anything particular that needs to be done to the mud?

      Thanks many millions!

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