When you think about it, the first wines were homemade, and our society has only pumped the winery up to be a place of gatherings and receptions. These wineries have spent years perfecting their recipes, and some have even grown so large that there are franchise opportunities. Can homemade wine kill you?

Homemade wine can not kill you. Some chemicals can sour the taste and make it unpalatable, but nothing is lethal in the mixing. Overconsumption of wine can have disastrous effects, but making it is no more dangerous than making homemade dinners.

Making wine at home takes a while but can be mastered by anyone with the desire and time to learn. Wine, beer, and cider are all safe to make at home and can be fun and exciting to make. Read on and learn everything you need to know about homemade wine and just how safe it can be.

Why People Think Homemade Wine is Dangerous

People confuse making wine with moonshine. When making moonshine, if the chemicals aren’t distilled properly, it can cause blindness. The processes of making wine and moonshine, while they have things in common, are not related. Making wine requires only a few ingredients and a bit of time. Moonshine requires just a few things, but a ton of heat is needed.

Like other alcohol, there are side effects of homemade wine that could cause serious illness. Illness can be overcome with medication and water. No chemicals created when making wine with grapes and yeast can be deadly. CO2, which is present in fermentation, can produce loud noises and could fracture bottles if there is build-up before venting. 

Harmful Effects of Homemade Wine

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There are harmful effects to doing too much of anything. When it comes to homemade wine, the thing to watch for is overindulgence. If you drink too much homemade wine, the effect will be much worse because of the extra alcohol content from added sugar or other ingredients. Choose your fruit wisely, as some can have other intestinal issues with sweet wine.

Homemade Red Wine can Cause Major Headaches

There are chemicals in red wine called tannins. Tannins can be overpowering in red wine and will produce one of the worst alcohol-related headaches out there. Histamines, also present in red wine grapes, can also give the head a ‘buzzy’ feeling that aids in making the headaches just a bit worse.

The typical headache is caused by dehydration. Alcohol, when drunk in excess, will remove tons of water from your system and leave you sore and headachy until you correct the balance. The best thing to do is drink water or Gatorade before you hit the sack.

A Failure to Clean can Cause Problems for You.

One of the most essential parts of creating wine is cleaning. You must use certain types of cleaners or a build-up of chemical by-products can lead to the development of bacteria. Bacteria will give the wine a funky taste or even turn it into vinegar. Take the time to clean each receptacle and yourself before dealing with your grapes or homebrew.

When you are cleaning, take it past your regular cleaning routine and get crazy. There will also need to be special plastic or glass bins used. These bins will keep the bacteria beat back and make cleaning them much easier. Some types of plastic can leave a weird taste in wine due to their chemical compounds.

Proper Storage can Mean the Difference Between Good and Bad Wine

Another thing that could happen to wine is that it won’t ferment well in the bottles. This could have something to do with how they are stored. Wine must be vertical for a few days before being stored horizontally. Laying the bottles on their sides in a wine rack allows for better fermentation.

The internet is full of horror stories of wine that hasn’t been stored properly. There can be a build-up of pressure inside the bottles that can be set off at the tiniest disturbance. If wine is bottled before it is ready, CO2 inside the bottle could force them to rupture and send glass pieces flying everywhere.

Keeping Everything Cleaned is the Best Defense Against Bad Wine

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Sediment in a glass of old wine. Sediment in wine. Tannin blend in a glass of old wine. Wine structure.

It can’t be stressed enough how important having clean and sanitized items during the process can cut down on the harmful effects of homemade wine. There are specialized cleaners for wine that will remove chemicals from the containers or the area where you are making the wine.

Your area of operation has to be top-notch spotless when it comes to making wine. If you are going to use the garage, remember that the area must not fall below freezing, or the grapes and all your hard work smashing them will be for nothing. Choose a spot that is easy to heat or cool and has access to water for all the cleaning you will need to do.

Is Making Wine at Home Safe?

People emphasize wineries and manufacturer’s wines and how good they taste. It could be a bit surprising, but those gigantic name brands use the same process as you can do yourself in the comfort of your kitchen. Winemaking has been around since before civilization, and the process has changed very little. 

Making wine in your home can be looked at as another homemade recipe. You use natural ingredients to create ethyl alcohol that, with time and effort, could have a taste that rivals some of the best on the market. Keep your bins and jar clean and the area sterilized, and you should have no problem making a decent wine.

Making Homemade Wine

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Tasty mulled red wine with pears and spices preparing in cooking pot. Closeup of Christmas holiday homemade preparation

Making your wine is as simple as following directions. The time and love placed into making wine are what is going to make it taste better. If you like, some packets can allow you to mimic some other wines on the market. The packets are great for the novice, but you can begin to freestyle a bit as you climb towards sommelier.

Use Caution Before Using or Making Wine

While making wine is perfectly legal, you should check with your local laws before jumping in with both feet. Double-check the state laws as well. Statutes come into being every day with the intention of curbing alcohol production and abuse. Keep alcohol away from children. Don’t drink and drive. 

Round up the Gear You Need to Make Your Wine Dreams Come True

When it comes to the stuff to make wine, you can do an internet search and get more results than you could read in ten lifetimes. Companies abound on the internet with high-tech gadgets that make your wine better. Don’t forget to keep it simple for your first few tries until you get your feet underneath you.

For simplicity sake, you should have:

  • Plastic or Glass Container – Outside of the grapes, this could be the most important piece to winemaking. You need something to hold the juice inside while it ferments. Ensure that you are using a plastic labeled 1 or 2, or it will erode before the juice has time to ferment.
Midwest Homebrewing and Winemaking Supplies 7.9 gallon Plastic Fermentor with Lid
Midwest Homebrewing and Winemaking Supplies 7.9 gallon Plastic Fermentor with Lid amazon.com Check price

Includes a lid
Heavy duty plastic
7.9 gallon bucket but markings are present only upto 5 gallon
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North Mountain Supply 1 Gallon Glass Fermenting Jug with Handle, 6.5 Rubber Stopper, Twin Bubble Airlock, Black Plastic Lid (Set of 1)
North Mountain Supply 1 Gallon Glass Fermenting Jug with Handle, 6.5 Rubber Stopper, Twin Bubble Airlock, Black Plastic Lid (Set of 1) amazon.com Check price

1 Gallon Glass Fermenting Jug with Handle, #6. 5 Rubber Stopper, Twin Bubble Airlock, & Black Plastic Lid
Perfect for fermenting and brewing beer, wine, kombucha and more
Works great for making a l...

  • Venting Mechanism – It sounds a bit complicated, but you need a way to vent gasses off the mix as it ferments. You can use a balloon stretched across the top of the bottle, which will fill when there is an excess of CO2. Others using a jug can use a rubber stopper and a bit of pipe or PVC to vent.
  • Mixture Items – You will need something to swirl around the contents once you are ready to mix them up and a way to measure them out. Choose something with a long handle that is made of bamboo or plastic to avoid any contamination. 
  • Auto siphon – One of the things you need is a way to siphon yeast off the mixture. A siphon made from vinyl or plastic will work, but customers rave about the Auto siphon and how much easier it makes the process.
Auto-Siphon Mini with 6 Feet of Tubing and Clamp
Auto-Siphon Mini with 6 Feet of Tubing and Clamp amazon.com Check price

Perfect for small batches
Start your siphon with a single pump
Includes tubing and siphon clip
Glass jar not included

  • Cleaning Products – The best product to use is Star San Five Star Foaming Cleanser. It has a special foam that cuts deep into the plastic and removes any unwanted tastes. Get an ample amount as you will need several bottles and ten times as much water to clean everything required.
Five Star - 6022b_ - Star San - 32 Ounce - High Foaming Sanitizer
Five Star - 6022b_ - Star San - 32 Ounce - High Foaming Sanitizer amazon.com Check price

STAR SAN is a high foaming, acid-based, no-rinse sanitizer that is effective and easy to use.
Self-foaming, which helps to penetrate cracks and crevices.
Odorless, flavorless, biodegradable,and env...

The Ingredients are What Make the Wine Special and Tasteful

If there’s fruit juice, you can make wine with it, but that isn’t all you need. Depending on the type of fruit wine you are making, you could need a few things that you might have thought about and a couple more that might leave you scratching your head. Keep a list going of what works and what doesn’t so you can hone in on your taste.

The main ingredients in fruit wine are:

  • Fruit or Juice – Fruit is the easiest thing to make wine with. The thing to do is find the kind of juice, 100% juice you see in the supermarket, that you want to use and buy several bottles. Add them into your receptacle and keep them clean of debris until you add the other parts of the ingredients.
  • Sugar – Sugar is another item that you will need lots of. Some say that the more sugar you add, the more alcohol content you will have, but that isn’t always the case. You can only get about 20% content from sugar unless you take it to a distiller, which is illegal and will get you sent away for hard time.
  • Yeast – When it comes to fermentation, you aren’t getting anywhere without yeast. The potent combination of yeast, sugar, and fruit juice is what makes wine work. They make a chemical reaction that creates ethyl alcohol. Buying by the pound is your best option for running a small batch of fruit wine.
  • Sulfates – Before you go pulling the ripcord and abandoning the recipe, you should know that all wine has added sulfates or sodium. Potassium Metabisulfite will allow the yeast to work at its peak potential and produce the best tasting and highest quality wine you could ask for.

Get Your Winemaking Area Ready for Production

Now that all the ingredients and equipment are primed, you can make your area ready for production. Do another cleaning of the site to remove anything that might hamper the taste and get your receptacles where you like them before moving on to adding ingredients. 

Use sheets of plastic to avoid making a mess in your home. The plastic sheeting means that you can have some standard tables and counter space to work with. You don’t want to ruin your traditional kitchen space with stains from grape juice.

Mixing the Ingredients is Fun but Takes Lots of Measuring and Pouring

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This step will take some time and require that you hold onto the bottles the fruit juice came in. Each of the bottles will be refilled with juice and sugar. It is a complicated process that will require you to use a funnel. Pack the funnel and then add the liquid to wash it back down inside the bottle.

The steps to mixing the ingredients for homemade wine are:

  • Pack the Funnel – You should pack the funnel with a pound of sugar. In total, you will use between two and four pounds of sugar in your wine. Some sugar will spill into the bottle, and that is precisely what you want.
  • Pour the Juice – Once the funnel is packed with delicious sugar, you can begin to funnel your juice back into the bottle. It will take about half a bottle of juice to disintegrate the sugar. Swirl it with your plastic stirrer or stick to keep it free from debris.
  • Repeat the Process – Once you have dissolved the first pound of sugar, continue until you have diluted all the juice bottles’ sugar. These steps could take the lion’s share of the time you spend devoted to winemaking, keep the process moving, and before you know it, you will have some fantastic wine of your own.
  • Go Stir Crazy – Once all the bottles have been refilled, you should stir or shake them. Mixing up the contents on the inside is crucial to the process, and if you don’t spend a large amount of time on this process, you could regret it later.

Add Yeast to the Mixtures to Start the Fermenting Process

Now that your bottles are filled or close to the top, you can add the wine bottle for storage. Yeast is what makes this whole thing worthwhile. It will take over the bottles and pump CO2 out of the auto-siphon.

Once the yeast is in the bottles, it is time to keep an eye on them for any changes inside the bottle. Wine bottled too soon could have build-ups of carbon that could cause the bottles to break and wine to spill everywhere. The glass could also fly around the room and cause injuries if it comes in contact with human skin.

Ready the Auto Siphon on Bottles for Storage

You must put the vent or CO2 on all the glass storage bottles. The vents will allow the gasses to expel harmlessly while they are fermenting. Check the mixture for any film or debris that might taint the fermentation process. Remove anything you think will be a burden before moving on to storing the bottles long term. 

Keep a good check on the vents, and when the mixture becomes clear, it is time for tasting. Add water and try to find a taste that you were looking for before sealing the bottles for the long haul. You should wait for about four or five weeks to before tasting. Be patient.

Bottling the Wine is like Bringing Home a New Baby

Once the wine is ready for bottles, you will have a sense of completion, unlike most anything you can do. The hard work and time will be worth it when you get to sample your wine; give it a few more days to make it ensure more fermentation, but you should keep an eye on the bottles for any impurities.

Always keep an eye out for cloudiness in bottles. The cloudiness could mean that there are impurities in the bottles that will make the wine harder to drink or will give it a funky taste. Siphon out impurities with the auto-siphon and ensure that all of the particles and excess yeast are drained away to the bottom. 

Conclusion

Homemade wine gets a bad rap. It is often confused with making moonshine, which can have disastrous consequences if not prepared correctly. The ethyl alcohol created during the process, other than giving you a terrible hangover, is harmless and shouldn’t be confused with methyl alcohol, which can cause blindness. 

The process of making wine is just like any other recipe you find online. There are instructions to follow and tools that are needed to make it taste correct. Find a good recipe, and you will have some great tasting wine to show off to your friends and family. Remember to drink responsibly and keep alcohol away from children.