Dos and Don'ts of Making Homemade Wine

This article originally appeared in the story Something to Wine About in the March/April 2019 issue.

Planning on making a batch of wine? Read these quick do’s and don’ts to make sure that everything goes smoothly from bucket to bottle.

  • DO keep an eye on your thermostat. “Wine pretty much takes care of itself,” says Deanna Kepler, a customer service representative and brewmaster at Midwest Supplies, but the yeast needs to be in a warm enough environment to ferment. Reds typically do best between 68 and 76 degrees F while whites do better in the mid-60s.
  • DON’T sweat the small stuff. Lots of first timers get caught up in the details, Kepler explains, citing the fermentation process as the time when most homebrewers begin to worry. “Wine isn’t fussy,”  says Doug Hudson, webmaster for The Purple Foot, a winemaking and wine enthusiast club founded in 1971 that caters to those living in the Twin Cities and its suburbs. “[It’s] very forgiving.”
  • DO play by the rules. Because alcohol is involved, there are laws about home winemaking. Two hundred gallons of wine and/or beer can legally be brewed at home per year. It can’t be sold, but can be given away as a gift.
  • DON’T be afraid to experiment. “Some years back, I had done ... white wines I wasn’t thrilled with individually,” Hudson says. But he didn’t get discouraged. “I futzed around with some chardonnay and sauvignon blanc that clicked, and blended them together.” Hudson’s house white was created, and he bottles it for family and friends as a gift.