This article is from the WineMaking FAQ, by malak@CAM.ORG (Don Buchan) with numerous contributions by others.
Prepare the yeast. You can either start from a package of yeast or the
leftover yeast from a previous batch. If you're using a package of
yeast, it can just be sprinkled on the must, but it works better if you
rehydrate it in a covered, sanitized glass of water. You can also
encourage it by adding a spoon of sugar or by substituting some fruit
juice for water, but this is not necessary. Re-hydrating only takes
about 15 minutes.
Prepare your must. Crush your fruit and, where appropriate, add water,
sugar and other ingredients. An easy way of preparing non-grape fruit
is to put them through a food processor or blender.
There are many methods of must sanitation:
A) boil your must -- helps kill infections and blend ingredients, but
can change the character of whatever you're preparing and caramelize
some sugars, producing less desirable results, sweet wine, loss of
aroma, or both.
B) pasteurize your must (heat to 70C for a couple of minutes)
C) 2 campden tablets per gallon
D) freeze you fruit, which helps extract juice and flavours better, and
is usually done in conjunction with a dose of sulphite)
E) don't sanitize at all, but rather allow the wild yeasts to ferment
D) pour boiling water over pieces of fruit to get wild yeast and
bacteria off the surfaces and makes the fruit easier to crush and
Most fruit juices, especially apple and grape, will ferment out to 7%
or 8%, possibly up to 11%. Adding sugar or honey will make a more
potent wine or cider.
Mix juices, tannins, acids and nutrients in fermenting vessel.
Add the yeast, and let it ferment the must. This can take anywhere from
2-3 weeks for a kit to several months with some fruit.
Clear the wine. Some people rack the wine from one vessel to another
every three months after fermentation is complete until clear; others
use a fining agent such as bentonite, gelatin or isinglas. Most people
fine and filter their wine before bottling to give the wine a final
Aging. Quality improves a lot with age. It is usually best to wait at
least a month on anything, and the longer you wait, the better it will
be. Most references say wait at least six months or a year but many
wines can be drinkable earlier. Keep the bottles in a cool place out of
direct sunlight. Wines age better if not jarred or disturbed. Kit wines
tend to be best at a year.
To determine the optimum aging time required for a wine, make a lot of
small bottles and open one up every three to six months or so and taste