To make wine, you need some form of a liquid with sugar and other flavors in it. Grapes represent the ideal porportion of water, sugar and flavor, and often come with their own yeast to the pot, but many other fruits and vegetables can be used to make wine with sugar, water and yeast added to them. All it takes is time.

To make your liquid or juice, mix pieces of fruit or root vegetables (like potatoes and carrots) in a blender with water, or put them in a slow cooker and slow cook until they are mushy and can be passed through a sieve. Another option is to put the items in a bucket and pour hot water over them, and then let it steep for a day or two, as described below. When the liquid is cooled, steeped or blended sufficiently, strain it though a jelly bag or cheesecloth (muslin). If using dry sugar, add about 3-4 pounds of sugar for every gallon of liquid (a pound or 1 1/3 cups per quart ), or make a sugar syrup and use the proportions given below. Use the smaller amount of sugar if using a sweet fruit or vegetable, the larger amount if flavoring the wine with flowers, leaves or tea. Add yeast starter. Mix. Transfer to glass bottles or jar. Cover with airlocks. When sediment forms on the bottom and liquid clears, the wine is drinkable, but can be left to age and develop for a year or more if desired.

There is no need to rack or decant the wine from off the sediments before as long as no sulfur (Campden tablets) were added at the beginning of the wine-making process. It is the sulfur that makes wine bitter, not the yeast, which has a sweet taste with a lot of nuances in it.

Not using sulfur means getting an occasional bottle of off wine or vinegar, but that's not worth putting sulfur into every bottle of wine  you make. Commercial wine brewers have to do it because they need all their wine to taste the same, but a home brewer doesn't have to worry about variations in the taste of their wine. 
Sometimes the variation can be a champagne-like wine caused by a  malo-lactic acid ferment. These "contaminations" are caused by failure to kill wild bacteria in the fermentation with sulphur. I choose to risk the odd bottle of organic wine vinegar rather than add bitter sulfur to my wine.

Preparation, or things to have on hand 

Collect and clean empty wine bottles.

[Tip: If wine labels do not come off easily after soaking in warm, soapy water, try pouring boiling hot water into the bottle. The label then can be easily scraped off with a knife, and some may peel off.]


For the airlocks pictured here you will need:

Small rubber bands (I cut slices from a bicycle inner tube) and pieces of plastic sheeting (I use cut up plastic grocery bags).
Measuring jug

A filter such as cheesecloth/muslin, netting or a sieve.

Make sugar syrup and store it in a cool place (you can also use plain sugar at a ratio of 1 cup per quart or 1 pound per gallon.).

Yeast Starter

You can buy wine yeast if you like. Using wild yeast is a lot more fun, and it is available for free everywhere. See
harvesting wild yeast for ways to make a starter by harvesting yeast from the wild.

 Making The Wine 

Put some fruit, either fresh, frozen or dried, into a clean plastic bucket or large glass jug. For each bottle of wine you wish to make, use about a pint of fruit. You can also use edible flowers like dandelion or tree leaves such as oak, birch or maple. However, if you use only tree leaves that don't supply any sugar, add 50% more sugar to the directions below.Cover and let sit for a day. After a day, open the cover and mash the fruit with a dowel, wooden spoon or your hands. Re-cover and let sit for another day. 

Pour hot water over the fruit or other plant material.The hot water can be tea made with herbs and spices first and then re-heated.

To prepare to pour out the liquid:

Cover a jug or other clean container with coarse filter or sieve.

Pour the liquid from the fruit through the filter. In some cases, you may also wish to squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can. (Hand squeezing the pulp will give you more sugar and flavor but more work removing the pulp later on -- your call.)

For each liter bottle of wine, measure 500 mls (about a pint) of the liquid.

Pour the 500 mls (about a pint) of liquid into a clean empty wine bottle.

Add 150 mls (10 tablespoons) sugar syrup

and 50 mls (3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon) yeast starter

Cover each bottle with an airlock that will keep bugs out but allow the fermenting gas to escape.

After a few days to about a week (or more, depending on conditions and activity of the yeast), the wine (technical name = "must") will start to ferment, but this need not concern you. You can buy a store-bought airlock if you want to watch the process, but it's not necessary. Let it sit somewhere undisturbed for 1-2 months at room temperature. you are sure the wine is "still" and will not ferment any more, you can put a plastic cork on the bottle, but this is not essential.  If you don't have any, you can continue to use the piece of plastic (make sure it's not bio-degradable) and sturdy rubber band that you used for an airlock.

After a few months or a year -- more is better -- decant the wine into a nice decanter slowly and carefully to leave the sediment behind.

Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz. 
Truly Cultured Rejuvenating Taste, Health and Community With Naturally Fermented Foods
Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers by Stephen Harr Buhner

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