Home Winemaking For Dummies®

Table of Contents


About This Book

Conventions Used in This Book

What You’re Not to Read

Foolish Assumptions

How This Book Is Organized

Part I: Motivation, Materials, and Methods

Part II: Phases and Stages

Part III: Deeper Into Reds

Part IV: Deeper Into Whites

Part V: Beyond Red and White

Part VI: The Part of Tens

Part VII: Appendixes

Icons Used in This Book

Where to Go from Here

Part I: Motivations, Materials, and Methods

Chapter 1: Making Great Wine at Home

Choosing to Make Cheap Wine or Really Good Wine

Making wine to save money

Making really good wine

Getting into the Home Winemaking Mindset

Surrendering to the grapes

Developing patience, precision,and a little chemistry

Tasting and talking about wine

Aiming high

Going from Vine to Glass

Practicing “safe” winemaking

Getting grapes

Getting outfitted

Measuring grape chemistry

Destemming, crushing, and pressing

Witnessing the miracle of fermentation

Performing a post-fermentation tune-up

Aging and blending

Finishing and bottling

Thinking beyond bottling

Chapter 2: Finding Good Grapes

Grape Expectations

Getting grapes you like to drink

Checking out your sources

Calculating quantity

Choosing fresh, frozen, crushed, or juice

Maximizing quality or minimizing price?

Picking First-Time Winners

Sure-fire reds

Winning whites

Looking Beyond the Usual Suspects



Versatile blenders

No Grapes? No Problem

Making wine from kits

Employing a winemaking service to do it for you

Winemaking beyond grapes

Making mead

Chapter 3: Provisioning Your Home Winery

Weighing the Heavy Equipment

Crushing and destemming

Fermenting vessels

Pressing matters

Storing and aging

Filtering wine


Going gaseous

Scanning the Smaller Stuff

Collecting containers

Closing closures

Stirring and punching

Racking and transfer

Straining and sieving

Cleaning equipment


Winemaking log book

Equipping Your Home Wine Lab

Pulling samples

Making calculations and conversions

Measuring with calibrated glassware

Weighing in with a winery scale

Testing equipment

Shopping for Perishable Supplies

Finding good microbes

Feeding the good microbes

Killing the bad microbes

Aiding fermentation

Fixing wine issues

Designing Your Winery

Chapter 4: Obsessing over Temperature, Oxygen, and Sanitation

Controlling Temperature

Understanding why temperature matters

Measuring temperature

Warming up reds

Cooling down whites

Adjusting the temperature for aging

Identifying Oxygen as Friend or Foe

Encouraging happy fermentations

Keeping oxygen spoilage at bay

Keeping a little oxygen around because it (almost) never hurts

Airing out problems

Sanitation, Sanitation, Sanitation

Cleaning, sanitizing, and sterilizing

Explaining the myths and uses of sulfur dioxide

Part II: Phases and Stages

Chapter 5: Sorting, Crushing, and Pressing

What to Do Before You Do Anything

Chill out

Think first, crush later

Sort out the MOG

Get your numbers straight

Crushing, Delicately and Otherwise

Standard crushing

Non-crush options

Pressing Whites

Adding, Subtracting, and Tweaking

Pass the sugar, please

Adjusting acidity

Managing microbes with SO2

Including endless enzymes

Chapter 6: Letting Yeast Do Its Thing: Fermentation

Winemaking’s Secret: Yeast, the Fortunate Fungus

Selecting a strain

Re-hydrating and adding yeast

Feeding your yeast, but not too much

Monitoring and Massaging Fermentation

Punching down reds

Checking temperature

Disappearing sugar, emerging ethanol

Sniffing, slurping, and sensing your fermentation

Knowing when it’s done and what to do then

Pressing Reds

Timing red pressing

Squeezing your reds

Troubleshooting a Stuck Fermentation: When the Fermentation Won’t Ferment

Recognizing the signs and scents of trouble

Checking first things first

Re-starting a stuck fermentation

Chapter 7: Doing the Post-Fermentation Tango

Cleaning Up Your Wine

Practicing the art of racking

Experiencing the joys of lees

Doing the Post-Fermentation Checkup

Checking dryness

Adjusting pH

Lowering acidity

Adding and timing SO2

Exploring the Mysteries of the Malolactic

Understanding what the heck malolactic fermentation is

Getting why malo matters

Doing the deed

Stopping malo in its tracks

Evaluating Wine at the Yucky Stage

Sniffing out trouble

Tasting for trajectory

Exposing to Oxygen, No; Topping Up, Yes

Topping up and headspace

Being careful what you top with

Getting gassed

Chapter 8: Aging and Blending

Glass, Germs, and Steel: Carboy Aging

Barreling Down Your Wine

Debating wood versus glass

Judging differences in new and old(er) oak

Keeping and cleaning your barrels

Choosing French or American oak

Toasting barrel staves

Exploring oak alternatives

Tasting, Topping, and Tweaking

Tasting, tasting, tasting

Topping and tending

Getting the most out of dead yeast

Timing the rackings

Calculating aging time

The Joys of Blending

Winning combinations

Finding wine to blend

Timing, tasting, and trials

What blending can fix and can’t fix

Sniffing Out and Snuffing Out Problems

Smelling sulfur and brimstone and rotten eggs — oh my!

Getting too much air

Confronting bad news Brett

Calming volatile vinegar

Chapter 9: Finishing and Bottling

Fining: Cleaning Up Wine’s Act

Accounting for heat, cold, and protein

Stabilizing tartrates

Fining reds to tame tannin

Last resorts

Filtration: Making Your Wine Shine

Why bother filtering?

Procedures and precautions

Setting Up the Home Bottling Line

Bottles and fillers

Bottling line checklist

Closing the Deal

Final oxygen and sanitation warning

The bottling-day lunch

Chapter 10: Storing, Serving, and Starting Over

Storing and Tasting

Beware bottle shock

Storing happy wine

Tasting for quality and development

Fixing Bottled Wine

Diagnosing problems

Re-bottling all over again

Serving and Pouring with Pride

Showing off your wine

Gauging temperature and glassware

Cycling from Harvest to Harvest

Applying lessons learned

Giving your equipment a rest

Part III: Deeper Into Reds

Chapter 11: What’s Special about Red Wines?

Exploring the Deceptive Ease of Reds

Balancing power and finesse

Getting a high from sugar, alcohol, and pH

Managing tannins

Thinking oak is oaky-dokey

Playing with the Rules — Options, Alternatives, and Experiments

Taking a cold soak

Pulling off pink

Multiplying yeast strains

Fermenting a multitude of grapes

Fermenting with whole grapes and clusters

Fermenting inside the grapes — carbonic maceration

Talking temperature

Deconstructing wine: Rack and return

Pressing early

Pressing way later

Going to barrel clean or dirty

Addressing Aging

Making Decisions, Decisions

Chapter 12: Bold Bordeaux Reds

From Bordeaux to London to the World

King Cabernet

Small berries, big wines

Cabernet for fruit, age, or both

Styling your Cab

Malleable Merlot

Getting beyond generic

Nurturing Merlot style

Marvelous Minor Players

Cabernet Franc: Cab on a smaller frame

Malbec: From Cahors to Mendoza

Petit Verdot: Bordeaux’s mystery ingredient

Blending Strategies

Making Yeast and Style Choices

Chapter 13: Ravishing Rhône Reds

Sipping Syrah around the World

Unpacking the Northern Rhône style

Getting down (under) with Aussie style

Using the “improving variety”

Living Large with Petite Sirah

Rising from field blender to solo act

Taming the beast

Introducing Marvelous Minor Players

You say Garnacha and I say Grenache

Moody, mysterious Mourvèdre

Cinsault is just a bowl of cherries

Carignane, or is that Kerrigan?

Blending? Of Course

Choosing Yeasts and Other Options

Chapter 14: Handling the Hard Cases

Treating Pinot Noir with Kid Gloves

How not to make Pinot

Less is more

Zinfandel: Wine on the Wild Side

Standing up to scary-ripe grapes

Taming the wild thing

Taming Temperamental Tempranillo

Grapes with gratuitous grip

Tricks to managing tannins

Touching up Tempranillo

Savoring Sharp-Edged Sangiovese

Centuries of solutions

Pretending it’s Pinot

Pairing Yeasts and Making Choices

Chapter 15: Up-and-Comers and Off-the-Radars

A Mouth-Filling Miscellany of Reds

Savoring Northern Italian specials

Doing double duty with Douro treasures

Laying in some Lemberger

Taking care with tannic Tannat

Searching Out Homegrown Hybrids

How come hybrids?

Constraints and conventions

Proven winners

Turning to Teinturier Grapes: Red All Over

Part IV: Deeper Into Whites

Chapter 16: What’s Special about White Wines?

Whites: Harder Than Reds?

Shrinking the margin of error

Making whites with character

Options, Alternatives, and Experiments

Pressing whole clusters

Savoring the skins

Fermenting in barrels

Multiplying your yeast

Cooling down, warming up

To malo or not to malo

Oxidation on purpose

Finishing touches

The White Wine Balancing Act

Keeping acidity up

Easy on the oak

Aging Your White Wines

Making those Decisions, Decisions

Chapter 17: Fruity, Herbal Whites

Chardonnay: The Perils of Popularity

Checking its changeable characteristics

Matching fruit to technique

Channeling “faux Chablis”

Mastering “faux Montrachet,” or the Big Chardonnay treatment

Sauvignon Blanc — Edgy and Otherwise

Climate-driven styles

Options, options, options

White Wine Wonderland

Pinot Gris/Grigio

Pinot Blanc

Marsanne and Roussanne

Spanish whites

Italian whites

German whites

Grüner Veltliner

Hybrids that Hold Their Own

Choosing Yeasts and Styles

Chapter 18: Aromatic Whites

Stylistic Preliminaries

Keeping cool

Crushing, pressing, and skin contact

Strategizing about yeast

Preventing malo

Embracing acidity

Establishing an oak-free zone

Stirring lees or not

Sugaring to taste


Noseworthy Nobility

Riesling: White wine royalty

Muscat: The power of perfume

Gewürztraminer: Spice in a bottle

Viognier: Volatile and voluptuous

Chenin Blanc: Honey and flowers


Aging potential

Semi-Aromatic Whites

Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio

Amazing Albariño

And a cast of thousands . . .

Choosing Yeast and Style Options

Part V: Beyond Red and White

Chapter 19: Thinking and Drinking Pink

Why Make Pink Wine?

Surveying Pink Wine Methods

Pressing pink directly

Bleeding off juice — saignée

Blending whites and reds

Balancing blush

Stepping through a Saignée

Soaking the skins

Making pink like white

Chapter 20: Dessert, Fortified, and Sparkling Wines

Making Exceptions for Exceptional Wines

Dealing with Residual Sugar

Taking many roads to sweetness

Ensuring stability at home

Waiting for Late-Harvest Wines

Winemaking protocols

Botrytis: The noble rot

Good grape choices

Fortifying Your Wine

Port — Portuguese and otherwise


Vin doux naturel

Putting Bubbles in Your Bottles

Adopting the sparkling mindset

Making good grape choices

Part VI: The Part of Tens

Chapter 21: Ten Mistakes Most Home Winemakers Make at Least Once

The Old “Malolactic in the Bottle” Trick

Failure to Test

Doing Math in Your Head . . . Badly

Sanitation “Good Enough for Home Winemaking”

Letting Temperature Slide

Sloppy Topping

Not Labeling Your Wine Jugs

Drifting Attention during Routine Operations

Waiting (and Wishing) for Problems to Go Away

Underestimating Your Wine(making)

Chapter 22: Ten Ways To Save Money (and Make Better Wine)

Make More Wine

Make Several Wines from One Grape

Find Cheap Grapes . . . Carefully

Make More Whites

Get Glamour-Free Grapes

Make the Most of Barrels

Use Oak Alternatives

Stretch Out Bottling

Do the Equipment Math

Corners Not to Cut

Chapter 23: Ten Differences between Wine(makers) and Beer(brewers)

Wine Gods Rule

Only Wine Requires Training Classes

Only Beer Has Drunken Frat Boy Ads

Nobody Cares whether Beer Can Age

Sparklers, not Suds, Launch Ships

Pairing — Simple and Complex

Nobody Makes Fraudulent Beer

Restaurant Respect

The Best of Both Worlds

Mixing Patience with Fun

Part VII: Appendixes

Appendix A: Glossary

Appendix B: Conversions

Appendix C: Resources



Appendix D: Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) and pH

At the crusher

After fermentation

At bottling

During aging

Praise for Home Winemaking For Dummies

“A thorough, practical, and entertaining guide, this text takes tips from the pros and brings common sense and approachability to the art of winemaking. Mr. Patterson’s vast experience and contagious passion for the subject make Home Winemaking For Dummies an enjoyable read while the format makes it an excellent reference and allows the reader to delve as deep into the subject matter as he or she wishes. Whether problem-solving or pursuing stylistic ideals, Mr. Patterson holds the reader’s hand when needed but still encourages creativity within safe boundaries.  From sourcing fruit to healthy fermentation habits straight through aging, bottling, and even enjoying home-made wine, this guide has you covered at every step — I even learned a few things myself!  This book would be a welcome addition to any wine enthusiast’s library and is equally accessible to novice and connoisseur." 

Ondine Chattan, Winemaker, Geyser Peak Winery

“As a 20-year amateur winemaker with an addiction to winemaking books, I now have a new ‘go-to’ book for my first reference! After the excellently accurate coverage of basic winemaking, Tim’s tome takes the wonderful turn of emphasizing the subtle, and not-so subtle, differences that make the distinctions between the popular varietals — all in one place! Home Winemaking For Dummies is now prominently on my shelf in front of all the textbooks!”

Dave Lustig, President, Cellarmasters Home Wine Club Los Angeles

“Tim Patterson is able to express his knowledge and passion of winemaking in a very understandable, humorous, and practical way. If you follow the advice in this book, you will be able to produce wine that will likely be better than inexpensive commercial wine, and could be as good as any wine ever made. I applaud Tim’s effort and wish this book was around when I started making wine.”

Kent Rosenblum, Consultant Winemaker, Rosenblum Cellars, and former home winemaker

Home Winemaking For Dummies®

by Tim Patterson


About the Author

Tim Patterson writes about adult beverages and makes some of his own in Berkeley, California. In previous lives, he wrote about national politics,television, techie stuff, and hillbilly music. He roots for glamour-free wine regions and low-profile grapes; wants to know how wine is really made; and bottles his own in his garage, just to keep himself honest.

He does the monthly “Inquiring Winemaker” column for the industry trade magazine Wines & Vines, digging into winemaking theories and techniques, and writes frequently for consumers in the Wine Enthusiast. More to the immediate point, he has expounded regularly about home winemaking for several years in the pages of WineMaker. Past prose has also surfaced in Diablo, the Livermore Independent, Central Coast Adventures, Vineyard & Winery Management, Sommelier Journal, and The Vine, and on various now-defunct Web sites.

He coauthored (with Jim Concannon) Concannon: The First One Hundred and Twenty-Five Years, a history of that venerable Livermore Valley winery; contributed an introduction on the history of world dessert wine styles to Mary Cech and Jennie Schacht’s The Wine Lover’s Dessert Cookbook and a true-life tale to Thom Elkjer’s Adventures In Wine. He contributed to Opus Vino, a global wine encyclopedia. With veteran California winemaker and wine educator John Buechsenstein, he’s working on a book about the science — and often the lack of it — behind the wine world’s most fascinating concept, terroir. And of course, there’s a blog: Blind Muscat’s Cellarbook (

He made his first home wine in 1997 — a small batch of Carignane, hardly the noblest of grapes — and when it turned out to bear a striking resemblance to real wine, he was hooked. Since then he has collected a small wall full of ribbons from amateur wine competitions and recruited a circle of friends to do most of the hard work. He leans toward Rhône reds and aromatic whites, but he’s willing to try anything that grows on a vine.


For my brother Byron, who taught me that normal humans could make good wine at home — and that he could, too — as well as so many other things.

Author’s Acknowledgments

When the opportunity to write this book materialized, I was one happy winemaker. For that I have a string of folks at John Wiley & Sons to thank. First and foremost, Acquisitions Editor Robert Hickey made the early stages close to painless. From start to finish, he was enthusiastic, supportive, helpful, and prompt, all at a distance of several thousand miles. Likewise, working with my Project Editor, Kathleen Dobie, was a delight: just enough guidance to keep me on track, just enough humor to make hearing from her a pleasure. Despite all the warnings that print is dead, the entire crew at Wiley makes me believe the medium is very much alive.

Thanks to my tag-team of Technical Editors, Tom Leaf and Thomas Pellechia, both crackerjack winemakers, for helping me get the details right.

This book draws on interviews and conversations about winemaking for articles I’ve written, so thanks to my editors and publishers at Wines & Vines (Chet Klingensmith, Tina Caputo, and now Jim Gordon) and at WineMaker (Kathleen Ring, Brad Ring, Chris Colby) for paying me to learn how to be a better winemaker. For the details on doing this in your garage, the crew at the Oak Barrel in Berkeley — Bernie Rooney, Homer Smith, Kel Owen-Alcala, and Bob Lower — have been invaluable and generous beyond belief. Thanks to Peter Brehm for educating me about grapes.

Finally, thanks to the many people who read parts of this book, offering numerous helpful suggestions. The list, composed of professional winemakers, homies, and at least one published poet, includes John Buechsenstein, Roger Campbell, Pat Darr, Ken English, Tricia Goldberg, Nato Green, Marcia Henry, Gil Kulers, Don Link, Mark Magers, Bill Mayer, Michael Michaud, Ray Paetzold, Byron Patterson, Gene Patterson, Susan Patton-Fox, Ivan Pelcyger, Eileen Raphael, Bill Rohwer, Jennie Schacht, Joel Sommer, Pete Stauffer, Ron Story, Thy Tran, and Linda Yoshino. Thanks to Lisa Van de Water for a short course in remedial microbiology, and to Wanda Hennig and Eileen Raphael for the photos that got worked up into this book’s illustrations.

The book is dedicated to my brother Byron, who showed me the ropes of home winemaking. But heartfelt thanks also go to my wife, Nancy Freeman, who graciously allowed this runaway hobby to take over our house and a good deal of our social life, resulting in this book.

Publisher’s Acknowledgments

We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments at

Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:

Acquisitions and Editorial

Acquiring Editor: Robert Hickey

Project Editor: Kathleen A. Dobie

Production Editor: Pauline Ricablanca

Copy Editor: Laura Miller

Cartoons: Rich Tennant (

Composition Services

Project Coordinator: Lynsey Stanford

Layout: Samantha Cherolis, Tim Detrick, Cheryl Grubbs, Christin Swinford

Proofreaders: Leeann Harney, Jessica Kramer

Indexer: Sharon Shock

John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.

Deborah Barton, Vice President and Director of Operations

Karen Bryan, Vice-President, Publishing Services

Jennifer Smith, Publisher, Professional and Trade Division

Alison Maclean, Managing Editor

Publishing and Editorial for Consumer Dummies

Diane Graves Steele, Vice President and Publisher, Consumer Dummies

Kristin Ferguson-Wagstaffe, Product Development Director, Consumer Dummies

Ensley Eikenburg, Associate Publisher, Travel

Kelly Regan, Editorial Director, Travel

Composition Services

Debbie Stailey, Director of Composition Services


Until you’ve done it, making your own wine at home seems like an impossible challenge. Don’t you need endless rolling hills covered with vineyards; hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of stainless steel tanks; row upon row of French oak barrels; a huge, temperature- and humidity-controlled facility; and a Ph.D. in enology from the University of Somewhere Famous?


One day, when my stepson Diego was about eight years old, my wife, Nancy, announced she was going to make jam from the plums hanging off the tree in our backyard. “Mom,” he said, “you can’t make jam; you have to buy it at the store!” Nancy smiled, shook her head, and went to work with some pots and a strainer and a big kettle for sterilizing the lids and jars. And sure enough, in a couple of hours, we had jars of jam cooling on the counter and one awestruck kid. (For the record, the kid has gone on to do things that seem hopelessly impossible to me, like building entire hospitals from scratch.)

Home winemaking works the same way as jam — except that it takes longer. Like baking bread or knitting a sweater, making wine takes simple materials and produces amazing results. If millions of people — that’s a conservative estimate — all over the world have made good, drinkable wine for nearly 8,000 years, you can do it, too.

My older brother Byron was the first in our family to try his hand at the ancient craft of winemaking. He liked to drink wine, and he thought he could save some money and maybe even get a tax break by planting a few rows of vines on a piece of scraggly land he owned up in the foothills of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. I tried his wine and, by golly, it tasted like wine! I figured that if my brother could do this, so could I, and when I made my first tiny little batch of Carignane, I had my own plum jam experience: It tasted like wine!

Since then, I’ve gotten in way over my head trying one grape after another, and I’ve made a few bucks writing about winemaking. I’m lucky to live in Northern California, near hundreds of thousands of acres of prime grapes and a vast storehouse of winemaking knowledge. But in the 21st century, with the advantage of the Internet and modern transportation — and, of course, this book — you can make great wine anywhere and everywhere.

About This Book

Whether you’re just dipping your toe into the world of winemaking or you’ve made many batches already, this book has something for you. First of all, it’s a basic how-to and reference guide for first-time home winemakers. I cover all the necessary steps and procedures in detail. With this book, some grapes, and minimal equipment, you can make good wine — a few gallons or an entire barrel — in a spacious dedicated garage winery or in the corner of an apartment kitchen.

Other home winemaking books on the market cover the same ground and are chock full of good advice. But what’s different about this book is that it goes on to offer information and opinions about different grape varieties — which need very different treatment — and advanced winemaking techniques. No one, professional or amateur, simply makes generic red wine; people make Cabernet or Pinot Noir or Tempranillo or Chambourcin, and they don’t all do things the same way.

In a dozen years of garage winemaking, I’ve worked with a lot of grapes, made some nifty wines, won a bunch of medals, and made my share of mistakes. Along with my firsthand experience, my day job is writing about commercial winemaking trends and topics. I spend hours every week talking to winemakers about how they handle different grapes, how they choose yeast strains, whether temperature matters, what they think of filtration, how they fix problems, and on and on. So this book passes on that expert information so you can use it in your home winery. Sure, home winemaking is a hobby, but why not pursue it like a pro?

I hope that these various tricks, tips, and insights from the world of commercial winemaking make this book useful for experienced home winemakers as well as beginners. And if you simply want to understand how wine is made — whether you intend to get your hands dirty or not — this book answers your questions. Where do all the unpronounceable grapes come from? What the heck is malolactic fermentation? Why does Chardonnay taste so different from Riesling?

Conventions Used in This Book

The For Dummies series uses the following conventions to make information easy to understand:

All Web addresses appear in monofont.

New terms appear in italics and are followed closely by an easy-to-understand definition or explanation.

Bold text highlights the action parts of numbered steps.

In addition, this particular book follows a few of its own conventions:

All temperatures, weights, areas, and volumes are first given in standard U.S. measurements (Fahrenheit, pounds, acres, gallons), followed by the (rough) metric equivalents (Celsius, kilograms, hectares, and liters) in parentheses. However, some measurements are always done in metric (such as grams per liter of acid), and these appear in metric only. I use the abbreviations F, C (Fahrenheit, Celsius) throughout, as well as ° — the degrees symbol.

The U.S. dollar (USD) may not be the strongest currency in the world, but it’s the currency I use when estimating costs.

For simplicity and clarity, all grape variety names and wine varietal names are capitalized: Pinot Noir grapes make Pinot Noir wine.

And, lest you think I’m trying to be too cool for school, I use the term homies to mean you, me, and everyone else who ferments wine at home.

What You’re Not to Read

This book aims to be a comprehensive reference, which is no doubt more than you need to make your first batch of wine or to explore a specific grape or technique. If you’re of a mind to prioritize, you can skip the following without damaging your wine:

Text in sidebars: The sidebars throughout the book offer background information, forays into related topics, and tips from winemakers who have a handle on whatever topic the chapter addresses. Depending on how you’re using the book, they may be entertaining, enlightening, or both, but they aren’t essential.

Technical Stuff icons: In a few places, the text contains detailed technical or scientific background and explanations. This information helps with the why of certain points, but isn’t part of the how to.

Foolish Assumptions

Here’s what I assume about you, dear reader, including some things you should assume about yourself going into this winemaking business:

You like to drink wine.

You’re considering making some of your own, or at least want to know how — the same way you picked up a copy of Home Brain Surgery For Dummies — just to check it out.

If the potential payoff is good enough — great, inexpensive wine — you’re willing to do some manual labor, work through numerous third-grade math problems, and learn a teensy bit of chemistry (yikes!).

You have more patience than the folks who brew beer at home. No offense, beer people, but wine does take a lot longer from start to finish.

You have a number of friends who like to drink wine — because you will surely end up with more wine than you can reasonably drink on your own.

How This Book Is Organized

The book comes in seven parts, with 23 chapters and 4 appendixes tucked into those parts. Many topics show up more than once — a first time to explain a particular procedure or describe a certain winemaking direction, and a second time with more detail, multiple variations, or a caveat about the exception that proves the rule. If you’re looking for a specific topic, the Table of Contents and the Index are the best ways to find everything relevant.

Part I: Motivation, Materials, and Methods

In which Your Author dissects the various reasons why people take up home winemaking; lays out the basic steps; surveys the range of available equipment; counsels on the importance of starting with good grapes; and emphasizes the essential trio of sanitation, temperature control, and oxygen management.

Part II: Phases and Stages

In which Your Author takes you and your grapes on the journey from harvest to bottle, pausing for consideration of destemming, crushing, adjusting wine chemistry, fermenting, pressing, racking, aging, fining, filtering, blending, bottling, and troubleshooting, not to mention the mysterious malolactic. I finish off with a chapter on storing, aging, and tasting your wines. This part more or less corresponds to standard books on home winemaking.

Part III: Deeper Into Reds

In which Your Author surveys a number of techniques commercial wineries use in fine red wine production, most of which can be adapted for home winemaking, and then mixes and matches these techniques with information about noteworthy red grape varieties. Suggestions are included for what might work where and what the impact on your wine might be — with a lot of commentary by professional winemakers.

Part IV: Deeper Into Whites

In which Your Author follows the same approach as Part III on reds. This part includes a survey of advanced, optional white winemaking techniques, and a closer look at a broad range of popular white grape varieties, the wine styles they work best in, and how to get your grapes from here to there.

Part V: Beyond Red and White

In which Your Author explains the whys, wherefores, and special joys of pink wine, takes a look at dessert wine styles — late harvest and fortified — and sketches out ways to put a little sparkle into your wine.

Part VI: The Part of Tens

A For Dummies standard, this part contains helpful lists: home winemaking mistakes to avoid, ways to save money, and the eternal tension between wine people and beer people — in society at large as well as in your garage.

Part VII: Appendixes

A set of appendixes follows the main parts: a glossary of winemaking terms; a listing of resources for obtaining grapes, equipment, supplies, and information; conversion tables; and detailed information and formulas for using sulfur dioxide and calibrating usage with wine pH.

Icons Used in This Book

In the For Dummies tradition, some sections are highlighted with icons — amusing (I hope) little images in the margin — to draw your attention to certain kinds of information.

remember.eps This icon flags the most important points in a particular section, information that has a big bearing on the topic.

tip.eps I use this icon to point out “insider” information, such as things I learned the hard way, or neat little tricks that aren’t obvious, or pointers from the world of commercial winemaking.

technicalstuff.eps A paragraph or section tagged with this icon delves deeper into more geeky, scientific detail or background that isn’t necessary for immediate winemaking tasks.

warning_bomb.eps Watch out for the warning icon, which I use to indicate places where following (or not following) a certain procedure could be hazardous to your wine, or even your health.

howtheprosdoit_wine.eps When you see this icon, you know you’re getting advice and insights — some technical, some philosophical — from commercial winemakers across North America.

Where to Go from Here

Where to start and how to use this book depend on what you’re after:

If you’re a first-timer wanting to get The Big Picture — or trying to decide whether to do this at all — head for Chapter 1 to get the lay of the land.

When you’re ready to take the leap and make some wine, skim through the phases and stages of Part II to find out what you’ll be doing in the next few months, and then come back to specific chapters as your crush progresses.

If you have a pressing winemaking problem to solve right now, check the Table of Contents and the Index.

If you already know home winemaking basics and want to try a new grape variety or explore a technique, Parts III and IV offer some inspiration.

I figure that if you’ve gotten this far, you’re hooked, so turn the page and read on!

Part I

Motivations, Materials, and Methods


In this part . . .

Before I have you start making wine at home, I give you a preview of what you’re getting into. Anybody with a nose, a mouth, and a decent attention span can make very good wine.

These first chapters give an overview of the whole shebang, rhapsodize about the wonders of good grapes, survey equipment you will need, speculate about the home winemaker mindset, and preach the gospel of safe home winemaking.