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Making Wine From a Kit

Sanitation is very important in wine making. If not properly done your wine is likely to spoil. First you must realize that sterilization is impossible in the ordinary home environment, so we as wine makers must try to sanitize our equipment to keep bacteria to a minimum. This allows our yeast to rapidly grow and make conditions unfavourable for bacteria growth. By far the best way to do this is to make sure everything is physically clean and sanitized using cold water and chlorinated cleaner/sanitizer. Soak all equipment in a solution of 1 tablespoon of sanitizer per gallon of cold water for 10 minutes or longer, then rinse thoroughly with hot tap water.

Yeast is a living organism. It turns that sweet, syrupy mixture into wine. To do this it must have the right conditions for growth. It needs a slightly acidic environment, nutrients, and warmth. Your wine kit will have the proper balance of nutrients and acid added. So it's up to you to get the yeast off to a proper start. Do this by first making sure your mixture in the bucket is at the proper temperature. This should be between 25° - 30° Celsius. Do not depend on your senses to determine this, use a thermometer.If the temperature is above 30° C. then your yeast may be killed or weakened resulting in a slow, incomplete or no fermentation at all. If it is below 20° C., then fermentation may be very slow starting (3 - 4 days or longer). Remember if your fermenter feels warm to the touch the mixture is too warm, your yeast will almost certainly be damaged.


Once you get the mix at the proper temperature, add your yeast by sprinkling it on the surface of your concentrate mixture* (called must). Do not stir. Let stand at approximately 20° - 25° Celsius, until fermentation begins (about 24 hours). Then let ferment at 18° - 20° C. Fermenting at these temperatures will give you a superior wine and is more in line with commercial practices. All wine kits have their own specific instructions and should be followed. This is an outline of the basic procedure for making a 4-week wine kit. Steps highlighted in bold are recommended for all kits

Day One

  1. Pour Syrup and any DAY 1 additive packets into your clean and sanitized fermenter.

  2. Stir to dissolve.

  3. Half fill the syrup bag with hot tap water**twice to get all of the concentrate. Pour this into the fermenter.

  4. Keep on filling the fermenter with cold water until you get to about an inch from the 23 litre mark.

  5. Stir vigorously for 2 minutes to aerate. The yeast needs this for healthy growth.

  6. Check the temperature with your floating thermometer. If it is below 20° C., add hot water to make up 23 litres, if above 30° add cold water to make up 23 litres. 

  7. Sprinkle yeast evenly over the surface*. Do not stir in.

  8. Seal the lid and attach an air lock. Try to maintain the temperature until fermentation begins.

  9. After fermentation begins***(usually 24 - 48 hours.), move to a cooler room at 18° - 20°C. to continue the fermentation.

Day 6


  1. Siphon wine into a clean and sanitized carboy.

  2. Top up to within 3 inches of the top with cold water.

  3. Attach the air lock, making sure to half full it with cold water.

Day 20


  1. Check Specific Gravity, it should be between .990 and 1.000. If not let stand for 3 or 4 more days then check again.

  2. Siphon wine off sediment into the brewing bucket.

  3. Add the day 20 additive packets (usually potassium sorbate, metabisulphite and finings.) 

  4. Stir for 2 minutes to drive off CO2 gas. THIS IS IMPORTANT. All young wines contain a lot of dissolved CO2 gas. If you don't drive off this gas it will give your wine a sharp taste and can make it hard to clear.

  5. Clean the carboy and siphon the wine back into it.

  6. Top up to within 3" from the top with cool pre-boiled water. 

  7. Stir or shake on and off 3 or 4 times a day for the next 2 days to make sure you drive off all of the CO2 gas.

  8. Place in a cool room. Raise the carboy on a table so you won't have to disturb it for the next step.

Day 28


Your wine should be clear****. Carefully siphon it off the sediment into your bucket. Try not to disturb any sediment when you do this. Crush 2 Campden tablets and dissolve them in 1/2 cup of warm water. Add to wine and gently stir. Rinse your carboy and siphon the wine back into it. Let stand in a cool place for 2 days.

Taste your wine. If it is too dry you can add wine conditioner to sweeten. You can also filter your wine if you wish. This will give your wine a professional appearance. We have wine filters available for rent. Bottle your wine in clean sanitized bottles. You can use cork finished or screw tops. Ask us for advice when you are ready to bottle. 4-week wines reach there peak after about 6 months of aging, but can be enjoyed right away.

*You can also rehydrate the yeast as per instructions on the yeast package. This will give better results, but you must follow the instructions exactly as stated.
**Some people prefer to use distilled or filtered water. If you decide to do this, you will be rewarded with a better quality wine.
***You will know fermentation has begun by the bubbling action in your air lock. If you do not see any bubbling after 48 hours, remove the lid and check for foam or bubbles breaking on the surface of your mixture.
****If your wine is not clear do not bottle. Wait for another week. If it is still not clear after the extra week, ask us for advice. To check for clarity, siphon a small amount of wine from your carboy into a wine glass. There should be no cloudiness or haze.

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