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How to Make Fruit Wines + Strawberry Wine Recipe

Recipe At-A-Glance
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Home Brewing30 minutes active time
You're going to be shocked by how easy it is to make fruit wine (and how delicious the results are)! Our beginner's tutorial will teach you step-by-step how to make homemade strawberry wine.
A glass of homemade strawberry wine sits next to a bowl of fresh strawberries.

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My husband and father are beer home brewers. I’ve watched them devote entire Saturdays to the process of brewing beer. While I loved drinking the results, I was never interested in devoting all that time to brewing beer.

For years, I just assumed that making wine required the same amount of investment in time and equipment as beer brewing. But turns out—it doesn’t! You can make a batch of strawberry wine with less than 15 minutes of hands-on time. And you can be sipping it on your front porch just a few weeks later. Making fruit wines (or country wines) is now one of my favorite hobbies, and I’m so excited to share it with you!

A carboy of strawberry wine with a 3-piece airlock sits beside two flip-top bottles filled with finished fruit wine.

Today, I’m going to share with you a recipe for a classic Homemade Strawberry Wine, plus walk you through the entire process for making fruit wine. You can apply these same tools and processes to almost any fruit out there, so once you’ve nailed down Strawberry Wine (a great wine for beginners), you can let your imagination—and what’s in season—inspire your next batch.

Table of Contents

Read me: an important winemaking caveat!

Like most things in life, the craft of home winemaking falls on a wide spectrum. On one end, you have the folks who love to dive all in—they spend hundreds of dollars on special tools, they sanitize everything using synthetic chemicals, they take scientific records, they use very specific winemaking additives. On the other hand, there is what I like to call “heritage” winemakers. These people use barely nothing more than a clean canning jar, fruit, water, and some sugar—after all, that’s the way folks have been making wine for generations. And then there are all of us who fall somewhere in between on the spectrum.

Wholefully Protip

If you get into winemaking, it’s important to figure out how to make the process work for you! Experiment, and drink your mistakes!

The moral of this story is that there are a million and one combinations for how you can make a “good” bottle of wine. I’m going to write out how we do it in our home, but that absolutely isn’t the only (or even the best) way to do it. Throughout this post, you’ll see a theme of me giving you multiple ways to achieve the same result—think of it as an opportunity to try out what method works best for you.

Pouring a glass of homemade strawberry wine with a fresh strawberry garnish on the glass.

What tools do you need to make fruit wine at home?

You can really go all out with tools when it comes to winemaking, but here is the bare minimum of what I suggest you have on hand to do your first batch of strawberry wine. You can easily get started making wine for under $60.

A primary fermentation container:

This should be a big bucket, a large jar, a crock, or specifically designed fermenter—which is what we use and will be showing in this post.

The size is important. I recommend it be at least 40% bigger in volume than what you’d like your final amount of wine to be. Why? Because your primary fermentation will have fresh fruit in it, which we’ll later filter out. Also: during the initial fermentation, the yeast can get quite overzealous, and you’ll need room for all the bubbles—plus, extra room gives the yeast extra oxygen to work with! The strawberry wine recipe below is for a one gallon batch, so your primary fermentation container needs to be at least 1.4 gallons in size.

A carboy for secondary fermentation:

This is simply a big ole glass jug! We brew almost exclusively in one gallon batches at our house, so we have an entire fleet of one gallon carboys. You can purchase them in a bundle with an airlock and cork. They also come in much larger sizes if you want to do big batches—five gallon is a common carboy size. The shape of the carboy is important—the narrow neck reduces the surface area of wine exposed to oxygen during secondary fermentation, which is good!

Wholefully Protip

Some folks use a carboy for both primary and secondary fermentation. We’ve found it much easier (and less messy) to have a large, wide-mouth container for primary fermentation when working with whole fruits—plus, the primary fermentation container can double as a bottling bucket.

An airlock:

Strictly speaking, you don’t necessarily need an airlock to be successful at winemaking, but they make it a lot easier and they are incredibly affordable (less than $3 each). An airlock allows the brew to release the carbon dioxide it’s producing during fermentation, without allowing oxygen, microbes, or bugs into your wine.

Tools for making fruit wine at home such as wooden spoon, fine mesh strainer, funnel, glass fermenters, and air locks.

Bottling equipment:

How you bottle your wine is a personal decision! We prefer to use flip-top style glass bottles because it’s easy and we have them on hand. You can purchase a corker and do new or recycled wine bottles (we use these half-size wine bottles for gifting, and they are adorable). You can even just stash your wine in mason jars!

When it’s time to bottle or transfer your wine (called “racking”—more on that in a bit), a siphon/bottle filler is another item that isn’t an absolute necessity, but will make your life way easier. This helps you transfer the wine from one container to another without disturbing the sediment, and helps you bottle much easier. You’ll also need some sort of container to bottle from that has a spigot on it. Some folks buy a special bottling bucket, but we just use our primary fermenter.

Wholefully Protip

Everything else you’ll need for winemaking (spoons, funnels, sieves, etc.) are standard kitchen wares that you probably already have kicking around.

What kind of airlock should I buy?

You’ll see two different kinds of airlocks out there—the 3-piece airlock and the twin S-bubbler. Both work just fine for making wine. The only real advantage here is that it’s slightly easier to see bubbles moving (which means you can keep an eye on how active your fermentation is) on the S-bubbler. I have and use both kinds.

A hand holds two types of airlocks for winemaking, a three-piece airlock and a twin bubble airlock.

You will need a stopper or cap with a hole to affix the airlock to the top of your carboy or fermentation container, so make sure to grab that, too. They are often sold together in sets.

Wholefully Protip

Both kinds of airlock need to be filled to the line on the side with water to operate properly. Make sure your airlock always has water during fermentation.

How do you sanitize all the tools?

Level of sanitization is one of those things that falls on a wide spectrum. Some folks prefer to absolutely blast their tools with synthetic chemical sanitizers (Star San is a common one that folks use) before making wine to kill any yeast or bacteria that might impact the flavor of their wine. On the other end of the spectrum, some people don’t even wash the spoon they use to stir so it’ll keep the same yeast on it from batch to batch!

Like most things in my life, I stick to the middle path. We make sure all of our tools are cleaned very well with soap and hot water. Plus we use an oxygen wash (which is just a form of hydrogen peroxide) as an extra layer of sanitization before making our wine.

Close-up of hand holding jar of Northern Brewer No-Rinse Oxygen Wash.

What ingredients do you need to make fruit wine?

Alright, now onto the actual ingredients that make the magic happen. Here you can go as simple or as fancy as you like, but you’ll at least need:

Fruit

I highly recommend using fresh, in-season fruit that is frozen first. Why freeze it first? The process of freezing helps to break down the cell structure of the fruit so it can release its juices easier. In other words, freezing makes fruit mushy (which is good in this case)!

Wholefully Protip

I prefer frozen fruit because it releases the juices easier, but fresh fruit will work, too.

Sugar

This is the time to whip out a big bag of organic cane sugar! You’ll use a lot of sugar here, but don’t freak out—your goal is to feed the yeast so they turn that sugar into alcohol. You can add two pounds of sugar to a batch of wine and still get an incredibly tart and dry wine because the yeast ate it all!

If you are tempted to swap out the sugar for another sweetener (say honey), that’s fine, but just be aware that you are now making a different kind of alcoholic beverage (sugar=wine, honey=mead, maple syrup=acerglyn) and the process might be slightly different. We’re sticking with sugar for this post.

Close-up of sugar and fresh strawberries in a large glass fermenter with a spigot.

Water

The type of water you use to make your wine is important. Chlorinated tap water (especially over chlorinated) can inhibit or even kill your yeast—so I always use filtered water. I use water straight from our Berkey water filter. Jugs of spring water from the store will also do the trick.

Wholefully Protip

Some folks report using their chlorinated tap water for winemaking with no issues, so feel free to experiment if you’d like.

Yeast

These little babies are the magic that turns the three ingredients above into wine! There are two ways to go about procuring yeast for your wine project:

  • Wild yeast: The OG way to make wine—by embracing the yeast that’s already on the fruit and in the air around you! This is a really fun way to make wine, and if you are interested in it, I highly recommend checking out The Wildcrafting Brewer for a deep dive on the method. We’ve done a few batches with wild yeast, and it’s fun to see how different it turns out depending on what yeast inoculated your batch!
  • Purchased winemaking yeast: For a consistent, standardized wine making experience, you’ll want to use purchased winemaking yeast—it’s where I recommend winemaking newbies start. Winemaking yeast comes in little packets just like bread yeast. There are a ton of different strains you can try that impart different flavors, alcohol levels, fermentation styles, and other qualities (and we recommend experimenting with them). These two are our favorites for fruit wine making because of their neutral flavor, high activity, ease of use, and high final alcohol levels—Lalvin EC-118 and Red Star Premier Blanc.

Close-up of a hand holding up two packets of dry wine yeasts, Lalvin EC-1118 and Red Star Premier Blanc.

Wine Additives

Those four ingredients above are really all you absolutely need to make a batch of country wine (and are all that folks have used for generations to do so). But eventually, people realized that the flavor, appearance, and process of wine is improved with some additives—most of the additives mimic characteristics in traditional grape wines.

Bottles of wine additives from North Mountain Supply such as yeast nutrients, wine tannin, pectic enzyme, and acid blend along with fresh additives like raisins, citrus, and tea.

With almost all wine additives there are both natural and purchased/synthetic ways to achieve the same result. Here are the most common ones:

  • Tannin: Have you ever brewed a cup of black tea too strongly and it has mouth-puckering astringency? That’s tannin. You might not think you want that in your strawberry wine, but a little bit of tannin can help balance out fruity sweetness and add an interesting layer of earthy flavor. You can add tannin by using purchased Wine Tannin or by just adding a cup or two of strongly brewed black tea.
  • Yeast nutrient: Yeast love to eat sugar, but they also need other nutrients (like folic acid, magnesium, and others) to help them thrive. Many fruits provide enough of the nutrients so you don’t need to add yeast nutrient. But if your fermentation is sluggish (we had this happen when we made blueberry wine), you can add purchased Yeast Nutrient to reactivate the fermentation. Some people swear that organic raisins can replace yeast nutrient, but the jury is still out on that.
  • Acid: A little bit of acid is a great way to add another layer of flavor to fruity wines. Fruit wines without acid tend to have a harsh flavor. You can add purchased Acid Blend or any type of citrus fruit juice and peel that works well with your flavor profile.
  • Pectic Enzyme: This is a common additive that doesn’t have a non-purchased alternative, but that works, because it’s also not absolutely vital. Pectic Enzyme helps to break down the pectin in the fruit, which makes it easier for the fruit to break down. This makes it easier to extract the juice, the tannin, and the nutrients from the fruit, and it also means the final result of your wine is much clearer. We tend to use pectic enzymes for fruits that are harder to mash (like rhubarb) and when we are making batches for gifting (to get that beautiful clear appearance). We don’t use it in every batch.

Wholefully Protip

The benefit of using purchased wine additives is that it’s easier to get precise consistency from batch to batch of wine.

Another common wine additive are Campden tablets. They are sodium or potassium metabisulfite tablets that are used to sterilize wine at various stages during the winemaking process. I personally don’t use them (see more on that in the FAQs below), but a lot of folks do!

What kind of fruit can you use to make wine?

Almost anything! Berries and stone fruits (peaches, plums, cherries, etc.) are common, but I’ve seen onion wines, tomato wines, banana wines—it really is only limited by your imagination. Herb and spice wines are something we love in our house, too—lemon balm, peppermint, even basil!

What’s a general formula for making fruit wine from any kind of fruit?

Making wine is more of an art than a science, which means it takes some experimentation to nail down exactly what works for you and your tastebuds, but as a general rule of thumb, you can use this formula for a one gallon batch of fruit wine:

3 pounds of fresh or frozen fruit + 2-3 pounds of cane sugar + 1 gallon of water + Yeast and desired additives

How do you make a dry wine versus a sweet wine?

The final sweetness of your wine is determined mostly by two factors: how much sugar you add (of course) and how much sugar your yeast can eat. Different strains of yeast can consume different amounts of sugar before they peter out and die in the alcohol that they’ve made.

For an example, let’s walk through two different kinds of yeast in a wine batch.

  • Yeast A can survive to 12% alcohol content. This yeast will eat some of the sugar you add, die off once the wine reaches 12% alcohol, and then the rest of the sugar will be leftover for the wine to taste sweet.
  • Yeast B can survive to 18% alcohol content. It eats all three pounds of that sugar before dying off (or running out of food), and you end up with a dry wine.

Wholefully Protip

Without sterilization and added preservatives, homemade wines need to be at least 14% alcohol content to be shelf-stable. To achieve this, you need to add at least 2 1/2 pounds of sugar per gallon batch, plus use a yeast with an 14% or higher alcohol tolerance.

I recommend starting with one kind of middle-of-the-road alcohol-tolerant yeast and setting a baseline amount of sugar to add (2-3 pounds is a good amount for one gallon batch). Red Star Premier Blanc has an 14% alcohol tolerance and is a good place to start. Then you can adjust how much sugar to add based on your own taste preferences from there.

How do you make strawberry wine (or any fruit wine)?

Alright, now we’re going to dive into the exact method we use for making fruit wines in our house. The photos here show us making a batch of homemade strawberry wine from strawberries we picked at a local farm and then froze.

Step 1: Start the Must

In winemaking circles, must is the term you use for the mashed up whole fruit and juice you use in winemaking. There are a lot of ways to make a must (stomping on grapes, anyone?) but my favorite method is to use frozen fruit—which helps break down the cell structure of the fruit—and macerate it by soaking the fruit in sugar for a few hours. This works pretty well for all berries and hard skinned fruits.

Collage of first four steps to making strawberry wine at home.

  1. Sanitize your equipment to your preferred levels of sanitization.
  2. Add your frozen fruit to the primary fermentation container.
  3. Cover the fruit with the sugar—it’ll look like an obscene amount! This would also be the time to add your Pectic Enzyme if you are using it.
  4. Cover the fermentation container, and set aside for at least a few hours, up to 24 hours.

The fruit will begin to defrost and combine with the sugar, and the maceration process (which is destroying the structure of the fruit by making it sit in its own juices) will start to break everything down. Feel free to stir the whole mixture a few times with a clean spoon if you like—although it’s not necessary. After 24 hours, the mixture will look quite different!

Close-up of macerated strawberries in glass fermenter.

Step 2: Make the Wine

Next up is the actual winemaking process. It’ll take you less than 10 minutes worth of active time!

Collage of final six steps to make strawberry wine at home.

  1. Start by waking up your yeast. Mix the wine yeast with some non-chlorinated water in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Using a berry masher or clean hands, mash up all the fruit to finish making the must. It doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth, just break it up pretty well.
  3. Add in your preferred additives. For this strawberry wine, I’m using purchased acid blend and wine tannin.
  4. Add in enough non-chlorinated water to bring your total volume (including the fruit in the must) to about 30% more than your final desired amount—so for a one gallon batch, that’d be 1.3 gallons. You don’t have to be exact here. If you have too little later on, you can top it off with more water, and if you have too much, you can enjoy a preview sip!
  5. Pitch in the yeast and water mixture. Stir well. Don’t worry if not all the sugar is dissolved.
  6. Close the fermenter and fit it with an airlock filled with water.

Place the fermenter in a spot out of direct sunlight, but don’t put it too out of the way. During primary fermentation (the first 1-2 weeks), you’ll want to check on it daily.

Wholefully Protip

Some people put the fruit must inside a brew bag inside of the fermenter for easy straining later. I like to let my fruit roam free inside the wine because I think you get a stronger flavor.

Step 3: Primary Fermentation

Then, you wait for action! Agitate the wine mixture at least once a day (twice is better) by either swirling the whole container or removing the lid and stirring it well. You’ll know fermentation has started when you start to see fine bubbles moving up the side of the fermenter and the airlock starts bubbling.

Collage of two gifs showing primary fermentation bubbles in the fermenter and the airlock.

Depending on the temperature of where your fermenter is (warmer rooms = faster start), it can take as little as a few hours or as long as two to three days for fermentation to get started. But once it gets started—watch out! Primary fermentation can be quite active on fruit wines like this strawberry wine. You’ll want to keep an eye on your container to make sure the bubbles aren’t overflowing or taking over the airlock.

A glass fermenter with a spigot is filled with vigorously bubbling strawberry wine in the primary fermentation stage.

Keep agitating the mixture during the entire primary fermentation time—this is especially important when working with whole fruit, because it can form a mat at the top of the fermenter that traps the carbon dioxide.

Wholefully Protip

Stir the wine quite vigorously during primary fermentation! You want to incorporate air into the wine to help with fermentation. Use your muscles!

Primary fermentation is finished when the bubbling in the airlock slows down dramatically. That can happen in as quickly as three days or as slowly as three weeks—it’ll just depend on your yeast, your home, and your fruit. Since I like to use whole fruit in my fruit wines, I like to keep the whole fruit in there for at least a week before moving on to secondary fermentation.

Step 4: Racking and Secondary Fermentation

Once the primary fermentation has slowed down, it’s time to strain out the fruit and rack (what it’s called when you move the wine from one container to another) the wine into a carboy.

  1. Fit a funnel with a mesh sieve into the neck of a sterilized carboy. You can also use a special brewing funnel with a strainer if you choose.
  2. Using a large ladle, scoop out the whole and mashed fruit and pour it through the sieve and funnel.
  3. Press the fruit into the sieve to get as much of the early wine out as possible.
  4. When the sieve fills up, dump the spent must into the compost, and replace. Keep repeating until the majority of the fruit is out of the wine.
  5. Pour the remainder of the wine through the sieve and funnel.
  6. You want the wine to come to the bottom of the neck of the carboy. If you have too much, you can pour yourself a glass of not-yet-finished-but-still-delicious wine. If you have too little, you can top it off with more non-chlorinated water.
  7. Fit the carboy with an airlock.

Wholefully Protip

For some fruits with thin/goopy pulp (American persimmons are a good example), you might want to strain your wine through cheesecloth or a nut milk bag before racking into the carboy to remove even more of the pulp. Our yogurt strainer works great for this!

All this agitation will restart any sluggish fermentation quite actively, so I recommend placing the carboy in a place where you can keep an eye on it easily (but still out of direct sunlight). Once you know it’s not going to geyser wine everywhere, you can then move the carboy to a dark, out-of-the-way spot to do the longer secondary fermentation. A closet is great for this, as is a basement—although a basement is usually cooler and can make the fermentation process slower.

Country and fruit wines, including this strawberry wine, are traditionally still wines—meaning they have no carbonation and the yeast is inactive (or, ahem, dead). That’s the point when secondary fermentation is over. Here’s how you know when secondary is finished:

  • The airlock stops bubbling. This is the first signal that fermentation is over. The airlock stops doing its regular “bloop!”
  • If you used pectic enzyme, the wine clears. It happens magically. One day your wine looks hazy, and then the next, you can see straight through it to the other side (especially if you used pectic enzyme). This is a sign that the yeast has finished its work.
  • There are no bubbles along the side of the carboy. Even when the airlock stops bubbling, sometimes there are tiny bubbles running up the side of the carboy. These can often be the last sign that the yeast is still working.

This process can take anywhere from just a couple of weeks to months, depending on a number of factors. Just make sure your airlock has water in it (it will eventually evaporate) as your yeast does its work.

Wholefully Protip

Some people rack their wine multiple times (transferring it from one carboy to another) during secondary fermentation to both restart the fermentation and clear up the wine. A good rule of thumb is to rack it every 1-2 months, if you like.

Optional Step 4: Back Sweetening

When your secondary fermentation is over, it’s time to taste that wine! In general, fruit wines need time to age before they are really delicious, so don’t be too concerned about the flavor profile yet. What you are concerned about right now is sweetness. If you taste the wine and are happy with the sweetness, you can move onto Step #5!

If you taste the wine and it’s too dry, no worries, we can now rack the wine and back sweeten it. There are multiple ways to do this:

  1. Use a non-caloric sweetener. Non-caloric sweeteners like stevia, monk fruit, and erythritol can be added to to sweeten the wine without reactivating the wine. The drawback is that these natural sugar alternatives often have funky aftertastes that turn some folks off.
  2. Sterilize and back-sweeten. You can use Campden tablets to kill off the yeast in your wine, and then add simple syrup to the wine to sweeten to taste. 
  3. Back-sweeten with sugar and referment until the yeast hits its alcohol max. This is what I do! 

How to back-sweeten without sterilizing your wine:

Here’s my exact method for that third method of back-sweetening:

  1. Make a simple syrup by combining equal parts sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool to room temperature.
  2. Using a siphon, transfer the wine (leaving behind the sediment) to a different, sterilized carboy.
  3. Add in the simple syrup, a little at a time, shaking or stirring well after each addition. Keep sweetening until you get to your desired sweetness level. You can taste using a sterilized stainless straw or a wine thief.
  4. Fit the carboy with an airlock.

Wholefully Protip

If you don’t have a second carboy for back sweetening, you can always transfer the wine to your primary fermenter, sweeten to taste there, and then transfer back into the original carboy after cleaning out the sediment.

Depending on your yeast and the amount of sugar you used to begin with, back sweetening might reactivate your wine again (hence the airlock). You’ll see bubbles along the side of the carboy and in the airlock. This is totally fine—it just means the yeast wasn’t done with its work yet. When the fermentation is finished again (using the signals outlined in Step 3) you can taste and proceed with Step 4 again—do this as many times as you need to give it the sweetness you like.

If your wine doesn’t restart fermentation within a week, that means your yeast has topped out on the alcohol level in the wine and can no longer “eat” any more sugar—this is good, because it means the back sweetening will stay at the current sweetness level. Now you can move on to bottling and aging!

Step 5: Bottling

The bottling process can be as fancy or as simple as you like. Strawberry wine will taste the same out of a mason jar as it will coming out of a waxed and corked bottle—the choice is yours!

A glass flip-top bottle of homemade strawberry wine sits with fresh strawberries around it.

We personally bottle our wine in two different kinds of bottles that work well for us:

  • 16 Ounce Flip-Top (Grolsch-Style) Bottles: These are the bottles we use for our “everyday” drinking. They are easy to use, and they hold carbonation well if you happen to bottle before the fermentation is quite finished. They are easy to reseal. You can get about 5-6 of these bottles out of a one gallon batch of wine.
  • Half-Size (375ml) Stretch Hock Wine Bottles: These mini wine bottles are what we use for gift giving. We’ve been known to package three bottles of different fruit wines in one basket for a wonderful hostess or birthday gift. You can get between 8-10 of these bottles out of a one gallon batch of wine.

There are a million other ways you can bottle your wine: use recycled wine bottles, use beer bottles, put it in a jar with a tight fitting lid. No matter which vessel you choose, the process is roughly the same.

  1. Using a siphon, transfer the finished wine—leaving behind the sediment—from the carboy to the bottling bucket (or the primary fermenter if it has a spigot).
  2. Fit the bottling container spigot with a bottle filler, if using.
  3. Fill clean, sanitized bottles using the bottle filler or just the spigot.
  4. Cap, cork, or close the tops of the bottles.
  5. Label the bottles. We use masking tape and a Sharpie for wine we plan on drinking, and we make fancy labels for gift wine.

Step 6: Aging (the hardest part!)

As we mentioned earlier, most fruit wines really are at their most delicious after aging. That’s the hardest part of this whole process—waiting! The general recommendation is to age it at least one month before trying, but fruit wines get really amazing after 6-12 months of aging. You can either age your wine in a cool, dark place before bottling (in a carboy) or after bottling. Many folks (myself included) prefer to do it after bottling to clear up the carboy for their next batch of wine! But some folks swear by bulk aging—and have shelves full of full carboys to prove it. Proponents of bulk aging say that the flavor is better and the fermentation is more complete.

Corked wine bottles need to be aged laying on their side—this keeps the corks wet, which keeps the corks wedged in nice and tightly. All other types of bottles can be aged sitting up straight, just as long as they are in a cool, dark spot.

Close-up of hand holding a glass of strawberry wine.

Aging makes good wine even better, and it can even make undrinkable wine enjoyable! I’ve heard tales of winemakers almost throwing out a batch because it was so bad, only to age it for a year or more and have some of the best wine they’ve ever tasted!

Frequently asked questions about making strawberry wine (or any fruit wine):

How do you know the alcohol content of the wine?

This is an arena of winemaking where I lean more toward the heritage winemakers—I do not take alcohol readings on my wines. I never set a goal for how much alcohol I want my wine to have—I just like to let the wine develop into what it wants to develop into. I honestly have no idea how boozy my wines are other than to be able to take a sip and say, “Yup, that’s a strong one!”

Many (I could even say most) people who make wine at home take specific gravity readings using a hydrometer throughout the winemaking process to determine the fermentation levels and alcohol content. I’ve done it in the past with batches, and it’s definitely interesting information to have, especially when you are starting out! However, my goal with learning how to make strawberry wine was to keep the process fun, simple, and light, and doing specific gravity calculations is not my brain’s idea of carefree.

For some data-minded folks, it can be an incredibly helpful data set to use throughout the process. If using data to track your wine’s fermentation and alcohol growth sounds fun to you, grab yourself a hydrometer and go on with your bad self!

Glass flip-top bottles filled with finished strawberry wine and labeled with masking tape.

What happens if you bottle your wine before it’s done fermenting?

You might make little wine bombs! If the wine is still fermenting when you bottle, it’ll keep producing carbon dioxide, which will eventually build up to a point in the bottle where it needs to escape. When it gets there, the bottle might pop its cork, pop off its flip-top—or in the worst case scenario, break the glass of the bottle. You can prevent this by making sure the wine is still and finished fermenting before bottling or by sterilizing the wine with Campden tablets before bottling. I personally like to live on the edge, so I never sterilize my wine (more on that in a sec), and occasionally, I open up a nice carbonated bottle!

How do I make sparkling wines (like champagne)?

Country wines and fruit wines are traditionally still wines (meaning they have no carbonation). Making a sparkling wine is a bit of an advanced technique that requires a good knowledge of how yeast works, the fermentation process, and advanced bottling techniques. We recommend tackling it only after you’ve mastered a still wine like this strawberry wine. When you’re ready to move onto sparkling wine, Wild Wine Making has some great information about that process.

Close-up of a glass of chilled strawberry wine with a fresh strawberry garnish.

Can you use fruit juice to make wine instead of the whole fruit?

Sure can, and in fact, a lot of people save some time and skip some steps by doing so. I personally enjoy the flavor of using whole fruit, though, and I recommend it for first-timers looking to create a really delicious first batch of strawberry wine.

Why don’t you use Campden tablets?

If you have dabbled in winemaking, you may have heard of a frequently used additive called Campden tablets. They are sodium or potassium metabisulfite tablets that are used to sterilize wine at various stages during the winemaking process. They kill off all the yeast and bacteria.

Why would you want to do this? Well, for some people, they want to have a completely sterile process to start off with (they add the tablets to the fruit must to kill off any naturally-occurring yeasts or bacteria). Some people also use them to stop fermentation before it’s complete if they want to achieve a certain level of sweetness. And some people also add them to the wine just before bottling to make certain fermentation is over to avoid making bottle bombs.

I personally do not use Campden tablets. Mostly because I just don’t find that I need them in my winemaking process, but also because I enjoy including wild yeasts and bacteria in my creations. There are tons of resources on the internet about using Campden tablets if stertilization is of interest to you.

Can I use bread yeast for making strawberry wine?

Some folks out there use regular baker’s bread yeast for making wine, but I wouldn’t recommend it. The strains of yeast in winemakers yeast will create a much tastier final result. If you don’t believe me, try making a batch with bread yeast and see what happens!

Where can you get more information on making strawberry wine?

As if my 5000+ words on making strawberry wine wasn’t enough! If you are looking for more resources on making fruit wines, here are some of my favorite brewing books to check out:

And check out our other wine recipes:

 
A glass of homemade strawberry wine sits next to a bowl of fresh strawberries.

Homemade Strawberry Wine Recipe

Yield: 1 gallon
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 30 days
Total Time: 30 days 30 minutes

You're going to be shocked by how easy it is to make fruit wine! Our beginner's tutorial will teach you step-by-step how to make homemade strawberry wine.

Instructions

Before You Start

  1. Wash all your tools and sterilize to your desired level of cleanliness. Maintain this level of cleanliness throughout the process.

Making the Wine

  1. In a big bucket, a large jar, or specifically designed fermenter, add the frozen fruit, cane sugar, and pectic enzyme (if using). Cover and let sit out until the berries are defrosted and the entire mixture is quite juicy—at least four hours, up to 24 hours.
  2. Using a potato masher or clean hands, mash the berries to crush them. No need for it to be a smooth puree.
  3. In a small bowl, combine about a cup of water with the yeast, set aside to wake up for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the wine tannin or black tea and acid blend or lemon juice to the strawberry mixture. Add in enough water to bring the total volume of the mixture to about 1 1/3 gallons—no need to be perfectly accurate.
  5. Pitch the yeast water into the mixture, and stir well to agitate. Close the lid on the fermenter and fit with an airlock.

Primary Fermentation

  1. Place the fermenter in a spot out of direct light, but where you can keep an eye on it. Agitate the mixture well at least once per day by stirring or swirling.
  2. The fermentation should start within 1-3 days. Continue to stir or swirl thoroughly throughout the entire primary fermentation stage. 
  3. When the bubbles slow down considerably in the airlock (usually around the 10 day mark for us with this wine, but it’ll vary based on the heat of your house), your primary fermentation is done.

Secondary Fermentation

  1. Fit a funnel with a mesh sieve into the neck of a sterilized carboy. You can also use a special brewing funnel with a strainer if you choose.
  2. Using a large ladle, scoop out the whole and mashed strawberries and pour them through the sieve and funnel. 
  3. Press the berry puree into the sieve to get as much of the early wine out as possible.
  4. When the sieve fills up, dump the spent must into the compost, and replace. Keep repeating until the majority of the fruit is out of the wine. 
  5. Pour the remainder of the wine through the sieve and funnel.
  6. You want the wine to come to the bottom of the neck of the carboy. If you have too much, you can pour yourself a glass of not-yet-finished-but-still-delicious wine. If you have too little, you can top it off with more non-chlorinated water.
  7. Fit the carboy with an airlock. All this agitation will restart any sluggish fermentation quite actively, so I recommend placing the carboy in a place where you can keep an eye on it easily (but still out of direct sunlight). 
  8. Once you know it’s not going to geyser wine everywhere, you can then move the carboy to a dark, out-of-the-way spot to do the longer secondary fermentation.
  9. Secondary fermentation is complete when the wine is “still,” meaning there is no carbonation in the wine, no bubbling in the airlock, and the wine has cleared. This can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to months, depending on a number of factors. Do not bottle until the wine is still.

Bottling and Aging

  1. Using a siphon, transfer the finished strawberry wine—leaving behind the sediment—from the carboy to the bottling bucket (or the primary fermenter if it has a spigot).
  2. Fit the bottling container spigot with a bottle filler, if using.
  3. Fill clean, sanitized bottles using the bottle filler or just the spigot.
  4. Cap, cork, or close the top of the bottles. Label the bottles.
  5. Store in a cool dark spot (if using corks, turn the bottles on their sides to keep the corks wet) and age for at least 30 days, but preferably 6-12 months for the best flavor.

Notes

  • If your strawberry wine tastes too dry after secondary fermentation, you’ll want to back sweeten it using the process outlined in the post.
  • Make sure to taste your wine throughout the process! Not only is it fun to sample, it also helps you better understand the fermentation process at work.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 25 Serving Size: 5 oz
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 183Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1mgCarbohydrates: 47gFiber: 0gSugar: 46gProtein: 0g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.

Cassie is the founder and CEO of Wholefully. She's a home cook and wellness junkie with a love of all things healthy living. She lives on a small hobby farm in Southern Indiana with her husband, daughter, two dogs, two cats, and 15 chickens.

Leave a Reply

37 Responses
    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi Mike! We have a section for that in the post—from the Table of Contents, click the link for number 8: How do you make a dry wine versus a sweet wine? If you have any more specific question after reading through that, drop them here and I’ll be happy to help! =)

  1. David

    When you say one gallon of water, is it an American gallon (3.8 ltr) or a Canadian gallon (4.5 ltr) The reason I ask is because most carboys are in US gallons… thanks

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi David! We use the carboys linked in the post. They’re all standard American sizes so they’re US gallons! Hope this helps =)

  2. Wyatt

    I was wondering if you could add a bit of yeast and sugar during the bottling phase to create a sparkling wine? If this is possible what would the amount of yeast and sugar be.

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi Wyatt! You can definitely do that, but finding the line between sparkling wine and bottle bombs can be a tricky one! We haven’t tried it with this particular recipe so we can’t say for sure how much to use. Sorry!

  3. Jason

    After 3 weeks secondary fermentation I had no bubbling in airlock and very few bubbles inside carboy. I transferred to another carboy. It hasn’t cleared up. Did I transfer from secondary fermentation too soon? This is my first try at this. Thanks

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi Jason! Did you use the pectic enzyme? If not, strawberry wine is notorious for being cloudy and never clearing up. It’ll still taste great, just not be crystal clear like you see in the photos!

  4. trish

    You can add raw papaya peels instead of pectinase/pectic acid. Peel of half a papaya(medium size) is equivalent to 1 tsp pectinase.

  5. Jackie Bernhardt

    When I moved it to the secondary fermentation it was at 5% abv it has been in secondary fermentation for almost two months and just checked it today. It has no alcohol in it and smells like moldy juice. It is still bubbling and cloudy. Not sure what I am doing wrong. Second time trying to brew wine and this is the second time this has happened.

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi Jackie! 5% abv at the end of your primary fermentation is really low. Ideally it should be between 14-20% when you move to secondary fermentation. Our best guess about what might be happening is either that there’s too little sugar or the wrong kind of yeast. If you can give us more specifics about what and how much you’re using, we’ll be happy to help you troubleshoot! You can reply here or email us and we’ll help as best we can =)

  6. Michelle

    I enjoyed reading about home winemaking on our blog. It’s very simple and easy to understand. Can you tell me the approximate shelf life of the wines you make without using Campden tablets or potassium sorbate? We have some fruit wines that we are getting ready to backsweeten and a couple of sites were saying the wine wouldn’t last longer than 6 months if we don’t use Campden tablets and potassium sorbate. Have you had any trouble with this? We would prefer to backsweeten the wine the way you do it.

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Michelle! Here’s what Cassie has to say about her bottles:

      “We have bottles of wine that we didn’t use Campden tablets that have been on our shelf for going on 18 months now—still delicious!”

      Hope this helps! Happy winemaking =)

  7. Jenna

    Hi! I am using cranberries for this recipe and am about 4 days into the primary fermentation. Not seeing a whole lot of activity so far. My house is about 60 degrees F. Do you think it is slow because of the temperature? This is my first batch (love the article by the way!) so I am not sure what it should be doing.

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Jenna! It sounds like the low temperature could be the culprit. We’d recommend moving your setup to someplace warmer—between 68-70° is ideal. Good luck and let us know how it works out for you!

  8. Samantha

    Hi! I’ve just started getting into making cider and I would love to try this recipe out! What would the method be for using wild yeast instead of packet yeast? And if I were to switch out the sugar for maple syrup or honey, how much would I use?
    Thanks!

  9. Gabriella

    Hello! I have recently started wine making and have made both your strawberry and peach wines. My question is with other fruits, how do you know whether to put closer to 2 or 3lb of sugar? I’m looking to do a mix of blackberry, blueberry and cherry next which I presume will be similar to strawberries? And have you tried citrus fruits like lime (suggested by a friend) as I want to start a few quirkier flavours! Would they have the same amount of initial sugar for the yeast, but maybe a higher amount for backsweetening?

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Gabriella! When it comes to figuring out the amount of sugar to use, it’s important to taste your fruits first. If they taste a little on the sour side, you’ll want to use more sugar. If they are sweet, you can get away with using less. We haven’t done any citrus fruits yet—let us know how they turn out if you try them!

  10. Ora

    Thank you so much for this write up! I found several sites explaining how to make wine, but I was looking for somebody who also explained how to do it in the simplest way possible

    My yeast is already fermented fruit (ie, brandied fruit), which was started off with sugar and fruit. Your suggestion on how to prepare the fruit was actually how I got my fermentation going. Just leave the fruit in the sugar for another few days, and you’d have a heady addition to desert.

    My first attempt with wine is mango wine, as that was the fruit at hand. I’ve now moved it to second fermentation. I took out the fruit bits, but it’s still got tiny fruit pieces that made its way through the sieve and have now settled at the bottom. Is this okay or do I need to filter them all out and stay with a clearer liquid?

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Ora! The strawberry wine we detail in this post is also very sediment heavy. We generally don’t worry about it because it will be removed in the bottling process. We use a siphon to get the finished wine out while leaving the sediment on the bottom! You can read about it in more detail in Step 5: Bottling (there’s a link at the top of the post that will take you right to it!) I hope this helps!

  11. John

    Do you need to worry about wild yeasts on the fruit or other bacteria? Should the fruit be boiled or pasteurized prior to or after freezing to prevent off flavors or is just rinsing well before freezing sufficient. I’m planning on starting a Husk Cherry wine this weekend

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, John! How you feel about wild yeasts and bacteria is a personal choice in your winemaking. We actually like having them in our wine! However, we know some folks would prefer a sterile process to start off with. If that sounds like you, we recommend you check out the section, “Why Don’t You Use Campden Tablets?” in the post for more info about this.

      Here’s the quick version, though: If you want to kill off any naturally occurring yeasts or bacteria, you can add Campden tablets to the fruit must. There are a lot of great resources online about using them for sterilization, if that’s something that interests you! Either way, there’s no need to boil or pasteurize anything prior to or after freezing.

      We hope this helps! Happy winemaking! =)

  12. Jeremy Warner

    Just transfered this to secondary and it’s tasting delicious. Wondering if I can sub out for raspberries 1:1 with similar results? Thanks!

    1. Corey

      Can I use different fruits following the same methods in this post? Like instead of using 3 pounds of strawberries, can I use blueberries or oranges?

      1. Danielle @Wholefully

        Hi, Corey! Generally speaking, yes you can. Here’s our general formula for making a one gallon batch of fruit wine:

        3 pounds of fresh or frozen fruit + 2-3 pounds of cane sugar + 1 gallon of water + Yeast and desired additives

        Since making wine is more of an art than a science, it will definitely take some experimentation to land on exactly what works for you and your tastebuds, though! So the additives you want might change depending on the type of fruit you’re using, for example. Same with the amount of sugar you use, etc.

        To give you an idea of what we mean, here’s the link to our Blueberry Wine post for comparison: https://wholefully.com/blueberry-wine/

        Hope this helps! Happy winemaking!

    2. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Jeremy! You sure can! The results should be similar, but it may take some experimenting to get it just the way you want it. This will give you a great starting point, though. Please let us know how it turns out for you!

  13. Linda

    This post is fantastic! I’m going to use this recipe as a starting point for making mulberry wine, do you have any insight from your winemaking experience with berry fruits on whether I need to remove all the tiny stems?

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Linda! We generally don’t worry about it. You’ll strain all that stuff out when you rack it after primary fermentation. Some folks say that leaving the stems in makes wine more bitter, but we’ve never had that experience.

  14. Michael

    Hi! This recipe looks great and surprisingly approachable. I had an idea of making a wine like this maybe with some dried flowers, maybe something akin to a rose or a dandelion wine. How do you think I should prepare the dried ingredients if I use them? Maybe hydrate the ingredients and proceed as if they were fresh?

    Thank you in advance!

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Michael! No need to rehydrate the dried flowers. Just drop them in and fill the carboy with enough water to fill it almost to the top. Let us know how it turns out for you!

      1. Anthony

        So I messed up a bit and used an entire packet of yeast, my wine is extremely alcoholic and cloudy with a sediment that sits at the bottom of the carboy, will it clear or did I just make strawberry grain alcohol, or is it just trash, sorry I messed your recipe up!

        1. Danielle @Wholefully

          Hi, Anthony! No worries—strawberry produces a lot of sediment every time. The cloudiness should clear up, though, especially if you used the pectic enzyme. And no matter how much yeast you added, it’ll only multiply based on how much sugar is there. So despite the extra yeast, it should still turn out fine!

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I'm a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, and I've been developing healthy recipes professionally for over 15 years. Food is my love language, and my kitchen tips and nourishing recipes are my love letter to you!

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