View Full Version : Brewing your own wine

5th Dec 2006, 14:14
Been thinking of getting this in time for the over-doing-it at xmas:

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Wine-Starter-Kit-1-Gallon-6-Bottles-Winemaking_W0QQitemZ260060059387QQihZ016QQcategoryZ38172QQcm dZViewItem

Any JB'ers done anything like this before? I am led to believe you buy a syrup or made ingredients - but isn't it so that you can use fruit or anything that will ferment?

Maz (hic)

5th Dec 2006, 14:25
just add water and sugar for the biggest hangover of all time. Been there. Done that. Never again! :yuk:

5th Dec 2006, 14:34
I was gonna brew lager originally - but I have to be disciplined and give myself limits :bored:

5th Dec 2006, 15:14
Hi Mazz, I think Jerricho runs some sort of Shabeen where he has a dabble with the home brewed liquor.

Was always told during my extensive education that no matter what boozy patients tell you about "never touching spirits," "switching to bitter" etc etc, alcohol is alcohol, and that's the bit that causes the pleasure/damage.

However, talking from personal experience, home brew is a particually nasty, gut rotting, form of the stuff, which appears to warp the mind in ways other beers can't reach.

In fact, the last time I indulged, Mrs G complained that I spent till 4am giggling and muttering "titties" all night, and effect that Boddingtons Bitter doesn't seem to have.:\

bar fly
5th Dec 2006, 15:32
So how can I partake in such indulgence Gingernut? Sounds great.:ok:

5th Dec 2006, 15:32
Hi Gingernut - it's been a while, hope all is well :ok:

Your post was hilarious :p

I actually wanna do this not really for the drinking (he says), but just to say "I can" :8

5th Dec 2006, 15:41
I think you're a bit late to make it in time for Christmas. I was under the impression those wine-making things took 3-6 months....... nice timing for the summer though!! :ok:

5th Dec 2006, 15:44
So how can I partake in such indulgence Gingernut? Sounds great.

I'm on nights next week:)

5th Dec 2006, 15:48
I'm on nights next week
I'll bring the crisps :p

Apparently it can be done in app 1 month :confused:

bar fly
5th Dec 2006, 15:49
I'm on nights next week:)

:D :D :D :D :D :yuk:

5th Dec 2006, 15:58
You need two demi johns, two air locks, syrup (you can get it a tin) yeast some plastic hosing and a radiator or a hot press. Oh and some tablets to sterylise everything and some fining gel.
Boil everything. Make the yeast mixture in a glass. Make a mess of it and do it again.
Pour the syrup into the demi john, after you've gone down to the shop to buy a funnel.
Wait for the mud in the demi john to cool and put in the yeast. Put in the airlock. Don't break it and put it through your thumb, that smarts. Go and get another airlock.
Go and buy a heat belt because you forgot that. Stare at the airlock for, oh, three hours, waiting for a bubble. Right, it's working.
plup plup plup plup of bubbles
Put the demi john in another room because the plup noise is driving you insane.
Wait three weeks-ish.
Now you got something that looks like wine with mud at the bottom.
Siphon it. It helps if you put demi john 1 on your desk so any spillage can ruin important papers. Put it through a filter and add the fining gel. Do not on any account suck any of the sludge, that is a very bad thing.
Stare vacantly at the fined wine mixture. Go and buy bottles. Go back and buy corks.
Bottle it using the syphon thing again. Do not use a hammer to put in the corks, the bottle breaks, this leads to a wine lake in the kitchen. Find a mallet. Great, we're all done.
Tasting. Open with a proud flourish and pour a glass. It's clear, it looks like wine, good, good. Smells like wine, good. Take a drink.
'THAT is bloody horrible, sweet mother of God, yuck.'
Keep drinking anyway because it took so long to make and collapse.

5th Dec 2006, 16:06
Foss - I like it - thanks :ok:

Does it really taste that bad if you follow it to a T ?

What about using fruit rather than the syruppy stuff ?

Mr Lexx
5th Dec 2006, 16:13
I think you're a bit late to make it in time for Christmas. I was under the impression those wine-making things took 3-6 months....... nice timing for the summer though!! :ok:

Maybe not, one wonders about the quality of said wine though, but you cannot go wrong at 22 for 30 bottles!

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Solomon-Grundy-7-Day-Wine-Makes-30-Bottles-Chardonnay_W0QQitemZ260050429782QQihZ016QQcategoryZ38172QQcm dZViewItem

5th Dec 2006, 16:29
Doing it with fruit takes a good bit longer, you've got to boil it down and reduce it a little then guess how much sugar to put in nd it eems to ferment slower.
I made tea wine which as horrid, nettle wine which was quite nice. Raspberry wine which was pretty good.
Tried making stout, utter utter failure. And it smelled really bad. Try moving a large plastic bin of evil black goo to the back garden to dispose of it.
Made lager and is was really good.
Ah, it's something to keep you entertained.
There's a trouble free kit you can get, it's a bag you fill wth the syrup stuff and hang on the back of a door, then forget about it for a while.

5th Dec 2006, 17:03
For about six months I've been experimenting with and collecting information about how to make distilled beverages. I want to make eau de vie, from strawberries in particular as I've got a good local source of fraise de bois.

These two web sites have been helpful, the first about wines ~ with lots of interesting, detailed articles. The second is one of many sources of copper alembic stills:



The first still I made was from glass chemistry supply house bits and pieces. My first experiment produced a sort of "vodka" out of potaoes that was 85 proof. Highly flamable. According to my reviewers, it didn't taste great. But they're all still living to offer reviews of the next batch.

You don't have to guess about relative amounts of sugar. Get a refractometer. They're very accurate. Mine cost about $50.00.

5th Dec 2006, 17:21
What on God's earth is a refractometer.
I had enough trouble with a hydrometer.
The only homemade spirit I've tried is poteen. Sometimes it's really quite good, other times, it's poison.
And it's illegal.
So keep it quiet.

5th Dec 2006, 17:38
A refractometer is a very simple tool, and is used to measure relative "sugar weight" in a sample of, let's say, grape juice, as compared to distilled water. It's a little thing ~ like a fat fountain pen with an eyepiece ~ fits in your shirt pocket, and is easy to use.

Daylight passes through your sample and light is refracted off the sugar crystals (thus, a refractometer). The thing works much like a prism. The differential between the sugar content of distilled water (essentially zero) and your juice is called the "Brix scale."

Once you know how much sugar you have, you know if your fruit is ripe, how much sugar you have in solution, etc, and can proceed with your fermenting/distilling recipe from there.

5th Dec 2006, 19:25
Talk about something taking you into the past!
Early '70s when RAF officers were paid not a lot. You still wanted the social thing to keep going but how? when the party spirit was so expensive. "Punch" was the answer made with the last duty free you brought back from the last det, eked out with lots of orange juice and lots of fruit. Who remembers Huddley Thudpuckers which was a Harvey Wallbanger made with tequila or Dutch Navy Genever rather than vodka?
Around the same time in lots of MQs during a party, in the kitchen, if you listened carefully you you could hear the slightly high-pitched glooping noise of demi-johns fermenting in the airing cupboard. Said demi-johns having been filled for tuppence at Dirty Dicks bar in La Linea de la Concepcion with what ever you said you wanted. Medi-media acceptable to all, Muy secco for the discerning and tooth rottingly sweet for Granny.
My F-i-L used to make what he euphemistically called "country wines" (Grey Owl Andover ring a bell??) which he then proceeded to enhance by "fractioning by freezing" This got the SG up to about 16% which then moderated with Polish Spirit (which I believe was 100% ethanol) which brought the SG to around 75proof. I think this was legal. He then called this his liqueurs. Rocket fuel was a better description. AND, he'd dish this up after lunch; bye-bye afternoon. I feel lucky to have survived.
To everyone in the RAF in the '70s, prior to the military salary, I tip my hat. We had a great time socially, did the job, did long dets (certainly in maritime Majunga/Sharjah) and survived (most of us) to retirement. Swop it? No bloody way!
The Ancient Mariner
ps Pontius Navigator I feel I know you.

5th Dec 2006, 19:47
Ah Acrochick, thanks, very advanced.

I used to do a lot of this wine making while I was only about 16.
You have to sit very, very still, and shut up when your parents get back because you've been syphoning wine, and, er, taste testing and are completly pissed.

I had a mate who's dad worked in an ice cream factory, and the flavourings are kept in demi johns, so he'd give them to me with a couple of inches of flavouring syrup in them. Do the whole process, sugar yeast and all that.
Raspberry ripple flavour wine. It wasn't too bad, like a dessert wine.
Chocolate wine wasn't very nice :yuk: :yuk: :yuk: Didn't do that twice.

I think the trick is filtering as much as you can, and get all the rubbish out. And not drink it within 10 minutes of straining. Or while straining.

Mr Lexx
5th Dec 2006, 20:07
The only homemade spirit I've tried is poteen. Fos

Isn't that the stuff you make when you cannot afford tequila?

All sugar and a bit of yeast, takes the back of your throat clean off,,,,,

5th Dec 2006, 20:12
Cheers all :ok:

Acro - I had heard of these refractometers, something which I may indeed get hold of, as I am quite fond of dry wine and anything sweeter is like drinking fruit juice :suspect:

I have also heard on the grapevine (sorry) that everything has to be perfectly sterilised, otherwise the stuff just turns to vinegar (that would explain some of the bottled crap out there that you can buy nowadays).

We shall see!

Maz ;)

5th Dec 2006, 20:13
Have you ever heard of Bushmills Mr Lexx?
The last bottle of poteen I got had a fake Bushmills label, but instead of the famous dateline of 1608 on the label of the famous historical whisky, it just said 'Last week'. Funny illegal poteen makers.
It was coloured with honey or something. Quite nice.

Mr Lexx
5th Dec 2006, 20:20
Indeed I have Foss, never seen it with a "last week" vintage though!

Tricky Woo
5th Dec 2006, 20:59
Nah, making yer own wine falls under the same category as breeding yer own pigs for bacon sarnies, or popping down to Radio Shack/Tandys to build yer own TV. All eminently possible, but there are plenty of chaps in foreign lands that can do it 100 times better than wot you can.

A true Englishman can better direct his attentions to wielding a bottle opener, splodging out HP sauce, or changing the TV channel to something other than cricket.

Cricket: there's another thing that's better done by the developing world.


John Prescott
5th Dec 2006, 21:11
I knew a guy who used to use Ribena or vimto in lieu of real fruit when making his wine...

Was bluddy luvverly and....powerful stuff!

5th Dec 2006, 21:45
Best cheepo wine.
4 litre containers of real orange juice (NO PRESERVATIVE ADDED) from supermarket.
1 Bag sugar
1 teaspoon yeast
1 Demijohn to brew it in.
Try and keep it about 70ish degrees (proper degrees, not Euro centistuff)
Once it stops bubbling and starts to settle out, sample and filter into bottles to keep?

Bob Lenahan
6th Dec 2006, 03:09
Had a friend who bought all the stuff and made mead, from honey. Honey from different flowers or partrs of the country made the mead taste different. It tasted oky, but I prefer grape wine. He said if you followed the directions, it always turned out okay, so he always made large amounts.

6th Dec 2006, 04:41
Living in a land where home brew is a necessity....

20 liters of red/white grape juice
1 kg sugar
Good wine yeast
Place in air tight container and leave for 2 weeks.
Siphon to new container leaving slop at bottom of old container
Leave for 2 weeks.
Bottle and leave for couple days.
Enjoy the hangover....

or beer
40 liters non-alcoholic malt beverage
3 kgs sugar
Beer yeast
Leave for 10 days
Leave for a week.......

Now if only i could work out how to make stout... :):)


6th Dec 2006, 05:14
Mutt! Only one kilo to 20 litres of Danya :uhoh: Gonna be a bit weak. Mine is "a case to a kilo" ;) (though I know some use more)

6th Dec 2006, 08:10

cleanlines is quite close to Godliness in wine making, we used to boil everything before using and even resorted to chemical sterilisers(sodium metabisulphite ? - fumes would take your breath away).

Back in the dark days of the fifties my folks became quire adept at making 'wine' from things, two that stand out still are dandelion (take two gallons of dandelion petals...) and parsnip. I think there was a tradition that you brewed parsnip wine in the year of a baby's birth and kept it to toast the child's coming-of-age. Which is another point - if it tastes horible try keeping it for some time. A grim orange wine (made with Seville oranges) turned out quite well after twelve years in a dark cupboard. Beware of a second fermentation though - exploding bottles make a glorious mess...

And finally, poteen - my uncle was from Kerry, he brought back something in a bottle labelled 'Irish Lemonade'! eek!!!

By the way, Fos, how's your head doing?


6th Dec 2006, 09:19
All marvellous stuff, thanks - but here's a little thought.....

How difficult is it to make lager/beer? Reckon that's worth a try?


6th Dec 2006, 10:21
Brewed my first beer while at school - bought the stuff from a drysalters, crystal and black malt, mash tuns everything. This was long before the quick-brew kits became available but even so it was dead easy and very potent.

Later used Boots own; that was also simple, pretty much 'just add water'!

Recommend a kit as a way to start and then experiment with your own variations. Best I remember was black nettle beer. Made with black malt and freshly-picked, young nettle leaves instead of hops was almost as creamy and rich as a good Guinness.

One maxim I remember from a friend is 'next time you make some wine, make five gallons rather then one, it will last nearly twice as long'.


6th Dec 2006, 11:09
DIY - fun, for a while. Then, as pointed out earlier, easier to simply go and buy a bottle of the stuff from the supermarket.

Sterilisation, sterilisation, sterilisation. And the pity is that you don't know if you did it right until the moment of truth. So then you redouble your efforts and try again and be even more thorough.

I tried home made wine for a number of years. Awful stuff, which never seemed to improve by experience.

Beer was a different thing. Could get quite a good pint. I found it easier to use bottles than pressurised home kegs (the CO2 never seemed to work correctly).

But then binned all the kit, and the 100s of empty Newcastle Brown Ale bottles when moving house. And buy on line now.

6th Dec 2006, 12:02
I think this is going towards making lager now - it seems that making wine will not make anything near as nice as what you can buy - so, let's change this thread title to "Brewing your own beer"

6th Dec 2006, 13:04
Head's still a bit tender, and there's a wee bump but it's fine.

As for making stout, you have to toast and smoke the grain, barely or whatever it is. And then go out and find hops from somewhere. Difficult.
Seen a film about the Guinness plant and these two poor sods whose job was to stand knee deep in grain, in a dark, hot, smoky barn, and turn the stuff over with shovels all day. Thank you Jobcentre for that one.

Speaking of heads. A few months back I found some lager in bottles in the roofspace I made about ten years ago, it was great, had a nice foamy head and everything.

6th Dec 2006, 16:34

good to hear your head's getting better.

The barley was the point, 'Black' malt was malted barley toasted to a dark colour, specially for DIY stouts, I don't know if you can still get it as I have not tried brewing for quite a time now. Using nettles instead of hops makes finding them easier, if a little more painful when you pick them!

The Ginger wine recipe in the Christmas foods thread sounds interesting, it's making me think of uses for the cellar...


6th Dec 2006, 17:09
Where have all the home brew shops gone? Even Boot's the chemist sold home brew/wine kits few years ago. I loved the smell of the boiling malt barley bags, although steralising the bottles was a pain in the ass. Happy days. Do any shops still exist in the SE UK?


7th Dec 2006, 09:47
Right I have taken the next step - just bought this:


Didn't want the hassle of bottles, and fancied the idea of a barrel, not only for the second fermentation, but also to distribute to the glass!

12th Dec 2006, 11:09
Right - got the kit delivered last night (lager) and brought my Grandfather round (who's Grandfather hasn't done this in the past :p )

Sterilised all the gear.
Boiled 6 pints of water.
Mixed it with beer (looks just like syrup).
Added cold water up to 5 gallons.
Added 1 kilo of brewing sugar.
Stirred until the cow's come home.
Added yeast (after mixing in a little water first - there was quite a large froth on top after filling the barrel with water so the yeast wouldn't settle properly).
Now in airing cupboard.
Broke the hydrometer (well it was already damaged).

The froth/head originally went after filling, but now I know it's working as this morning I checked and it has a froth again, so the gas must be coming up.

I can't help but think they have sent me the wrong beer though - doesn't half look like bitter if you ask me - I know there is a lot to happen yet but we will see.

It was interesting to see that after it is fermented in the barrel, sugar is added to the pressure keg, which helps with the carbonating process I believe :confused:

3 weeks !!

12th Dec 2006, 11:27
Sterilised all the gear.

Mazzy - as everyone has stated, sterilise, sterilise, sterilise... you also need to ensure that you rinse, rinse, rinse otherwise the sterilisation stuff will render any yeast sterile and nothing will happen! Looks like you have been OK this time though as the fermentation appears to have started.

Here speaks a man of much experience in this field :)

Experience also shows that home brew lager isn't anything like the lager to be found in UK shops / pubs. It is quite a different thing - and generally quite flat. Bitter / brown ale was always much easier to make, and was quite fruity and tasty and with a fair alcohol content.

12th Dec 2006, 11:36
you also need to ensure that you rinse, rinse, rinse otherwise the sterilisation stuff will render any yeast sterile and nothing will happen!
Cheers MD - I am led to believe that the stuff I have is designed to not cause a problem to what you have mentioned, not only with regards to sterilisation, but taste also (I will take that one with a pinch of salt (NPI) ;) )

Experience also shows that home brew lager isn't anything like the lager to be found in UK shops / pubs. It is quite a different thing - and generally quite flat.
That's interesting - the way it is marketed suggests otherwise (sorry you'll have to ignore my ignorance on this one ;) I am allowed I am a novice). Do you think it's worth getting some c02 cylinders?

Maz :ok:

12th Dec 2006, 11:52
Don't really see how you could introduce Co2 cylinders into the barrel. And it's probably a plastic barrel, so I doubt it could cope with any added pressure at all.
First go, you'll be fine.

12th Dec 2006, 11:57
Fos - it's a plastic barrel yes, but it has been designed to cope with this (I hope). While it isn't at the top end of the market, it is marketed as a pressure keg and comes with adapters to fit the gas cylinders (which the vendor sells to match). I know you can buy better kegs for around £40 but that will be my next little 'add-in' :cool:

12th Dec 2006, 13:22
I brew in one of these...


Sling everything in (according to instructions...) wait 3 weeks, drink. No messing about with bottles although the beer can be a bit lively to start with. The top tap version has a gizmo that draws the beer from the top, where it clears first, and it stays that way until you hit the dregs.

You can then add more CO2 when the barrel empties, if necessary.

More convenient that going down the shop and buying it :)

2nd Jan 2007, 12:44
Well what can I say! Produced a fine load of beer which was ready on New Year's Eve! The test bottle I made was much better though, more gas and clearer with a slightly better taste. Overall - success :ok:

Fabulous hangover though!