How to Make Wine on a Budget, Part 1


Ladies and Gentleman. I’d like to start with a poem that I haven’t written yet. Don’t just read these words. Feel these words. You may need to light a candle.

If you like to drink and would like to have a good excuse to drink nearly all the time; 
MAKE! some wine.
If you’re in a bad mood, and you feel like punching your grandpa in the face; 
MAKE! some wine.
If you like it when people do stuff like call the cops; 
MAKE! some wine.
If you’re rich and awesome, just like me; 
MAKE! some wine

The bad news about making wine is that you can’t start and finish the project in one day. The good news is you only have to follow one very strict but awesome rule. I have never broken this rule and, quite frankly, we all expect the same from you. The rule: you must drink wine during each step of the wine making process. Don’t break this rule even if you’re pregnant.  I didn’t make this fantastic rule. If you make wine without drinking wine in the process you may just burn in hell, nobody knows for sure.

Also, it costs some cash to get it started. Assuming you’re not rich like I am, I’ve broken everything down so you’ll know what you need to purchase according to your 2-week paycheck. I’m also going to round up so if you’re handsome like me you’ll be able to find these supplies even cheaper. If you’re not a bad person you’ll buy these items at your local winery. By shopping at your local winery you’ll be able to get everything you need in life at one place along with a bonus ticket to Heaven.


Paycheck One: Supplies

1. You need a cheap bottle of wine. See how the bottle of wine in the picture     doesn’t have a label? Want to know why? I made it. We can talk more about labels later if I feel like it but at this point I seriously doubt that’s gonna happen. Sorry.

Bottle of wine

A. Bottle of Wine: $10

B. Money spent so far: $10

2. One 6.5 (at least) gallon plastic fermenter container. Some people call these things “buckets.” Just make sure it is of the “food-grade” variety. Food-grade quality is when they do something magical to the plastic, which in turn makes it safe to use for making wine. This is why it costs more. Magic shit isn’t free, folks. This is exactly where I stop thinking about it.

6.5 gallon fermenter food-grade container

A. Fermenter cost: $20

B. Money spent so far: $30

3. Wine kit. This contains all of the secret ingredients you will need to make 30 bottles of wine.

Wine kit and it’s NEW and IMPROVED!!

A. Wine kit: $100

B. Money spent so far: $130

4. Airlock. The airlock keeps oxygen away from your brew but also allows carbon diox…oh, hell. It’s $1.25. Just buy it.

Airlock. See that bruise on my hand? I busted myself with a hammer the other day. I hit it so hard it broke the skin. Not a good picture of the airlock, though. But, I may have broken my hand. Luckily I like it when I do stuff like that.
Airlock. See that bruise on my hand? I busted myself with a hammer the other day. I hit it so hard it broke the skin. Not a good picture of the airlock, though. But, I may have broken my hand. Luckily I enjoyed that entire process.

A. Airlock cost: $1.25

B. Money spent so far: $131.25

5. Record Player and Records

Records. Listed here are a couple of must-haves and Simon and Garfunkel
Records. Listed here are The War on Drugs, Gentleman Caller, and Simon and Garfunkel

 A. Cost: nothing because you already have a record player and records. (if you don’t have one, no sweat. Just go to number 6 for some tips on correcting this serious but fixable problem)

B. Money spent so far: $131.25

6. We have nothing else to talk about.

7. Disinfectant. This one is called B-Brite. The most common cause of a bad batch of wine is when shit was not disinfected. Everything that you put into your wine: container, stirrer, airlock,….everything but the glass of wine you should be drinking right now and the records you should be playing right now needs to be disinfected. Wash, disinfect, rinse. Cut corners at your own risk.

This is not cocaine. Put your mirror away.
This is not cocaine. Put your mirror away.

A. B-Brite disinfectant: $2.95

B. Money spent so far: $134.20

Ok, so you’re going to spend $134.20 to get started. Sounds like a lot, but most of the things that you purchase you will reuse and never have to purchase again, so yippee. Also, keep in mind: you’re going to end up with 30 bottles of fucking wine. So you’ve really only spent $4.47 per bottle. Not to mention you’re drinking wine right now while listening to some awesome records. If I were you I would stop crying about using your credit card and consider this an awesome investment. Also, think about how impressive it will be when you whip out a bottle at your next neighborhood gathering or church meeting. People will think you’re smart and want to know every single thing you have ever had to say. They’ll ask you all kinds of questions about wine and will want your professional advice. You’ll make so many new friends that you may start crying. As an extra bonus, it will give you the perfect opportunity to lie to people. If somebody busts you out on a lie you can take off running. Remember, folks: in almost any situation, running away is an option. Don’t forget that.

I’ll assume you immediately purchased all of the items I just listed and you did so only because I told you to and that you were just a little bit too scared not to.

If you can make a box of macaroni and cheese, you can make this kind of wine. Later I’ll talk about Cyser (and the word “cyser” will be linked to a blog about cyser) and Mead (same deal). For now, we’ll stick with this kit.

Optional (but recommended): start an excel sheet. As with all of “my” other ideas, I stole this one too. Keep records of when you started your wine, what you put in it, date racked, bottled, etc.

Step 1: Open your bottle of wine

bottle of wine
What’s wrong with this bottle? It’s not open.

Step 2: Pour yourself a glass of it.

Glass of wine. This is actually Cyser, though. Raspberry, if your nasty
Glass of wine. This is actually Cyser, though. Raspberry, if yer nasty

Step 3: Pick out a sweet record

Sweet records
Sweet records

Step 4: Clean and sanitize everything except items in the previous steps. The steps above. Steps 1, 2, & 3. What the hell is the matter with you?

B-Brite disinfectant. NOT cocaine
B-Brite disinfectant. NOT cocaine

 Step 5: Instructions. Ignore “draw a sample of the juice” and “use your hydrometer and test jar” horseshit. Hydrometers. You will never need a hydrometer even though you probably really do.

My instructions are more reasonable that these
My instructions are more reasonable than these

Step 6: Check out Gene Simmons

"i like republicans and 16 year old girls named 'Christine'"
“i like republicans and 16 year old girls named ‘Christine’”

Step 7 (optional): Boil some spices for about 10 minute so. Whatever you have: cinnamon, allspice, mint, taco meat, etc.

 Step 8: Pour the optional “Step 7″ in your primary fermenter first. Then add your juice.

Looks like awesome
Looks like awesome

 Step 9: Top off fermenter with water until it is about 6 gallons.

 Step 10: If your kit came with anything like oak pieces, throw them in there as though you were slam-dunking a basketball. Stir them angrily while pretending to win arguments. Don’t forget to disinfect whatever utensil you’re stirring with.

 Step 11: Have you been drinking wine throughout this process so far? I have. If not, stop here. We’re done. You’re just not good enough.

 Step 12: Look at this little fella. He barfed all over himself earlier, as you can see. Just before that he was going on and on about how I was his best friend and that he was joining the military in 2013. He also said he was a black-belt in karate, but I didn’t believe him. I told him he was a black-belt in barfing while he was barfing.

and there's THIS guy
and there’s THIS guy


Step 13: Your wine kit came with champagne yeast. Hulk-out and pour that shit on top of your juice like you just don’t give a shit.

 Step 14: Put the lid on your primary fermenter. Make sure the lid is on tight. Oh, and another thing: try not to be such an a-hole about it.

What, what?
What, what?

 Step 15: See that airlock right there next to that drunk fella who barfed all over himself earlier? You’ll put a little water in that. It has a “max” level on it. I hope you understand what that means.


 Final Step: Put the airlock in the little black rubber hole on the lid. Don’t push it all the way through. Ease it in, nice and snug as though you were slipping your right foot into the most comfortable slipper on a cold winter evening as the fireplace crackles a wonderful sparkling fire.

What, what?
What, what?

 Paycheck One complete! Do nothing else for at least 10 days. I’m going to go ahead and wait 2 weeks (which I will conveniently call Paycheck Two so we can base the steps according to payday). In a couple of days you’ll start to hear the yeast doing it’s magic and the carbon dioxide getting pushed out of the airlock. If you don’t, you probably did it wrong and you’ve wasted your time and you’ve wasted your money. Think about that while you’re hungover from that cheap bottle of wine you just drank. We both know it won’t stop there, though. Isn’t it time you start calling people that you suddenly want to talk to? Better go get some more booze now.


Part 2 here: http://www.raginggardeners.com/how-to-make-wine-on-a-budget-part-2/

Part 3 here: http://www.raginggardeners.com/how-to-make-wine-on-a-budget-part-3/

Bottling Wine: http://www.raginggardeners.com/bottling-wine/




  1. Pingback: How to Make Wine on a Budget, Part 2 | The Raging Gardeners
  2. Pingback: How to Make Wine on a Budget, Part 3 | The Raging Gardeners
  3. Pingback: Bottling Wine | The Raging Gardeners

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