Homemade wine and cider and beer, oh my!

We are finally on the winemaking and cider-brewing bandwagon! Having collected demijohns and other assorted brewing equipment for months, our first batches of wine and cider are at last being fermented. (Beer is currently a glimmer on the horizon, but its time in the sun is coming.)

A lot of the necessary equipment was acquired in Thrifty fashion. The demijohns were purchased from a charity shop (a bargain at £1 each), and various bits and bobs came from my FIL, who has given up making his own alcoholic beverages (and given away most associated equipment), but still had a hydrometer, sterilising agent (Chempro) and heating straps. The biggest purchase was a plastic fermentation bin, from a winemaking shop for around £8.

Part of the appeal of homemade wine for me is the variety of wines that can be made. Never mind Corbiere, Shiraz, Merlot… how about blackberry, elderberry, crabapple or sloe wine (mmm, slurp).

My FIL still has some homemade wine left from his winemaking days, and his well-aged blackberry and sloe wines are so smooth and delicious, well I could wax eloquently, but suffice it to say they’re the cat’s pajamas (hmm, I’d like to see my cats in pajamas…)

And of course, NOT contributing to the coffers of Brown and Darling, that mad-cap duo who haven’t quite gotten a handle on how the average Brit lives, has major appeal as well.

I’ll be sharing my winemaking triumphs (hopefully disasters will be nowhere to be found) in the coming weeks with all of you out there in cyberland… Cheers!


  1. I’ve just started on the homebrew trail too! We currently have beer in a brewzer thingy and a juice wine. My Dad gave me the recipe fore that one. I’ll be keeping an eye to see how you get on.

    Currently my wine is fizzing away but it’s fizzing so high that it’s trying to come out of the airlock!!

  2. Hi arkonite_babe,

    When we put our first batch of cider into the demijohns, by morning one had overbubbled the airlock and the foam was making a break for it across the table!

    I want to try juice wine too, but first we are going to use up some fruit from foraging.

  3. i really really want to make cider. after moving back to the states we can never find any decent cider.

    any good books you’d recommend to get me started?

  4. Cider is really easy to make, evestirs, and I don’t know of any books that deal specifically with cider-making. I’ll be blogging this weekend about how we made our first batch of cider; in the meantime, you can check out these sources which I used for info and inspiration:

    Making cider the easy way

    The Wittenham Hill cider pages

  5. hi felicity

    nigel deacon here. pleased to hear that you’ve found my wine notes useful.

    cherries are worth a go. all cherry wine is superb, but the small black ones growing wild in the hedgerows are the best of all.

    nigel / england.

  6. Why is it my favorite little berry has to be so expensive?? I need a berry farm!

  7. I’ve been making homemade wine for over 20 years and a couple of years ago had bought two large pineapples on a bogof offer so used one to make a gallon of wine, have made it regularly ever since and just wondered as you used pineapple with blackberry if you had tried it ‘straight’.

  8. Hi winelady — I haven’t tried straight pineapple wine, but I *love* fresh pineapple, so I’ll definitely be trying that one. Do you just use the usual stuff (pineapple, sugar, yeast, water) or add anything extra?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *