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Wine & Beer Making Equipment

This page lists all the equipment and chemical compounds you will need if you are going to make wine, beer or cider.


When making wine avoid using containers and utensils made from iron, brass and copper as they can be affected by acids in the wine and can impart hazes and flavours into your wine. Use aluminium, stainless steel or enamel ware whenever possible.


The equipment list is divided into two sections:


Essential Equipment

I have divided this section into two parts:

Reusable Equipment consisting of :

Airlocks, Bottles, Brewing Bucket, Corks, Corker, Demijohns, Hydrometer, Rubber Bungs, Saucepan, Sieve, Siphon, Tube

Disposable Items consisting of

Campden Tablets, Citric Acid, Finings, Pectic Enzyme, Sugar, Tannin, Yeast, Yeast Nutrient


Reusable Equipment

An Airlock is a device made of glass or plastic that prevents wine coming into contact with air and also prevents contamination from bacteria. It also allows carbon dioxide gas to escape during fermentation.

The Airlock fits into the top of the Demijohn that contains the fermenting wine or beer. It is filled about halfway with water. As the carbon dioxide gas builds up during fermentation, it forces its way through the water barrier and up out of the container. Outside air is blocked from entering the fermenting vessel by the water in the Airlock so the wine is protected from outside contaminates.


The standard wine bottle size is 750ml. You'll need both Clear Bottles and tinted (dark green) bottles. The clear bottles are for white wine and the tinted for red wine. If you put red wine into clear bottles then it can become discoloured (muddy) over time due to the action of sunlight on it.

For beer you can buy standard Beer Bottlesfgns. To seal the bottles you will need some Crown Bottle Capsltyu and a Bottle Capperfghj.

You can also buy Swing Top Bottles like those used for Grolsch Beer.

If you do bottle your beer then dont add sugar to the bottles as the gas pressure could cause the bottles to explode.

Brewing Bucket

Fermentation of your must usually takes place in two stages.

Primary fermentation is the first stage. The must is rich in sugar and the fermentation is vigourous with lots of bubbling and frothing. It is best to use a Brewing Bucket for this otherwise if you use a Demijohn you will have juice spilling out of the narrow neck all over the place. This happened to me once with a batch of elderberry wine - my wife wasnt too pleased with the red stains on our kitchen floor! (She did enjoy the wine though!)

After 3 to 7 days the fermenting liquid is transferred to Demijohns where it undergoes secondary fermentation. This is a slower less vigorous process lasting from two weeks to 3 months.

Your Brewing Bucket must be made from Food Grade Plastic as ordinary plastic can leak harmful chemicals into your wine or beer.

brewing bucket

You'll need two types of cork - standard sized corks for fitting to the top of your wine bottles and larger ones for fitting into the top of your demijohns to seal them while your wine matures.

The Corker is a device that makes it easy to insert corks into bottles. The cork is inserted in the centre tube and the two grips at the bottom are located arround the rim of the bottle neck. The two levers are then pulled down and as they do so the rod at the top pushes the Cork down the tube. The tube is tapered so as the cork is pushed down it gets squeezed narrower, allowing it to easily enter the bottle neck. Once inside, the cork expands again to form an airtight seal.


These are large, one gallon (4.5 litre) vessels that you use for fermenting your wine. You will be able to make 6 standard 750ml bottles of wine from each one. You can get both Plastic Demijohns and Glass Demijohns. I prefer the glass ones as I believe they are easier to clean and last longer.

Airlocks are fitted in the top to prevent air getting to the wine and turning it to vinegar.

You will need several demijohns because some wines take a period of time to age, or mature, after fermentation ceases and before bottling. This can take months in some cases so you'll need some spare ones to carry on brewing while the maturation of the others takes place.

Also you will need some tinted (brown coloured)demijohns for brewing red wine as daylight can cause the wine to become discoloured (muddy). If you cant get these then I use clear demijohns and cover them with black bin liners during fermentation.



A Hydrometer is not stricly an essential piece of equipment but I would strongly recommend you get one if you want to achieve consistent results.

The Hydrometer is a long glass cylinder with a weight at its bottom and a measurement scale at its top. It is used for measuring the sugar content in a liquid. The coloured bands guide you as to how much sugar needs to be in the liquid at the start of the fermentation, and the finishing sugar levels for sweet, medium and dry wines.

You use the Hydrometer by placing it in the liquid and measuring how high it sinks or floats. If the liguid is full of sugar then it floats high and the thin neck will be high above the surface. If there is no sugar then the bulb almost sinks completely and the top of the thin neck will only just be above the surface.

There are 4 main uses for your hydrometer:

  1. You will need to measure the amount of sugar in a natural fruit juice (apple juice, grape juice etc).
  2. Once you know how much natural sugar is in a juice then you will easily be able to calculate how much extra sugar you need to add to make a wine of your desired alcohol strength.
  3. When the wine is fermenting you can check from time to time to see how much sugar has been converted into alcohol and how much there is left to go until your fermentation is complete.
  4. When fermentation is complete you can calculate the alcoholic strength of your finished wine.

Rubber Bungs

You will need two types of rubber bungs. The first is a Rubber Bung with a Bore Hole in the middle and is used for fitting your Airlocks to your Demijohns. The second is a Solid Rubber Bung and is used to plug and seal your Demijohns while your wine is maturing or ageing.


Used for boiling your water prior to use in the wine making process. This helps boils off the added fluoride and the natural limescale found in tap water.

You could use a kettle but there are two drawbacks to this - a) you get little pieces of limescale into your wine and b) sometimes you need to boil fruit (or vegatables) to extract their flavours, this isn't possible in a kettle.

Remember not to use iron, copper or aluminium utensils as these metals cant react with acids in the wine giving it a strange colour. I have used stainless steel pots and have experienced no problems.

Tip: I use a steamer pot (see picture) as it holds over a gallon of water - enought to fill a demijohn - and it can be used to sieve out chopped up fruit, vegetables etc.

large steamer pot


Used for sieving out small pieces of solid mater (pips, bits of fruit, fruit skin) etc from your must. I sometimes use a piece of muslin cloth draped over the Sieve to give finer filtering.


When you want to transfer your wine from one demijohn to another it is best to siphon it off otherwise you will transfer the sludge or lees that collects in the bottom after fermentation. You could just use the clear plastic tube described below but it will be difficult not to suck up some sludge. The best device is a siphon tube that is held in place with a rubber bung in the neck of the demijohn. The siphon tube has a cap on the end that prevents sludge being sucked in.

A tap is also useful for controling the flow.



You'll need about 2 metres (6 foot) of plastic tube to siphon your wine from bucket to demijohn or from demijohn to demijohn when racking.

siphon tube


Disposable Items

Campden Tablets

Campden Tablets are small white tablets that are essential for sterilising. All your equipment must not only be visibly clean but also chemically clean to prevent airborne yeasts and bacteria from spoiling your wine.

Citric Acid

Acid is one of the main components of wine that gives it its characteristic taste. Citric Acid is added to fruit juice when the fruit contains little or no natural acidity. Citric Acid is available in powder form supplied in small plastic tubs but you can also use the juice squeezed from fresh lemons.


Wine Finings are used to clear cloudy wines. The finings encourage the haze particles to grow, become heavier, and sink as a sediment. You can buy fining substances based on isinglass, gelatine, chitin and bentonite and a few others. There are also Beer Finings that are used to clear cloudy beer.

Pectic Enzyme

Pectic Enzyme comes in a powder form. It breaks down the pectin in fruit, extracting the juice and assists in the clearing of cloudy wines. It is also known as Super Enzyme, pectolytic enzyme, pectolase, pectinol.


Sugar is naturally present in fruits and is converted by yeast into alcohol, a process known as fermentation. Most of the time there isnt enough sugar in the fruit to give the required alcohol strength so you will have to add some extra to make your wine stronger. You can simply use ordinary packets of white sugar bought from the supermarket but some people say that Brewing & Wine Making Sugar is better. It is said to ferment easier, increase yield and give cleaner flavour than regular Sugar..


Tannins are harsh, bitter compounds responsible for flavouring - especially red wines. In grapes, tannins are found in the skins, pips and stalks but when you make wine from other fruits or vegetables that are low in tannin then extra tannin (grape tannin) needs to be added. It is supplied in small plastic tubs.


There are many types of yeasts all having different characteristics that can affect the final taste of your wine or beer. All good yeasts have a high alcohol tolerance meaning they can survive high concentrations of alcohol before they die off. You can buy yeasts for a particular style of wine, Port, Champagne, Sherry, Burgundy etc. However until you gain experience I advise that you use a good General Purpose Wine Yeast Compound.

For brewing beer you can buy Beer Yeast or for cider making you can buy special Cider Yeast.

Yeast Nutrient

To get the best from your fermentation your yeast will need a plentiful supply of vitamins and nutrients. These are present in grape juice but not in other fruit juices therefore it is necessary to add Yeast Nutrient to 'feed' your yeast.


Nice to have Equipment


Cleanliness is essential in wine making. You must make sure your equipmment is both visually and chemically clean. Bottle Cleaning Brushes make easy work of cleaning the inside of your wine bottles. You can also get special shaped brushes to clean inside of your demijohns. I find these most useful for cleaning out all the dead yeast that accumulates as sludge after fermentation.

bottle brush


Closures or Shrink Capsules are the pastic caps that fit over the top of the wine bottle protecting the cork and keeping the wine air tight. The caps are slid onto the bottle top and shrink fitted by dipping in hot water or blowing with a hair dryer.


Sometimes you will inadvertently produce a wine that is cloudy. You can try clearing it using finings but this doesn't always work. The cloud is caused by small fruit particles or vegatable particles that got into the juice when the fruit was boiled to extract its flavour. The only way to clear the wine is to pass it through a Wine Filter .

Note that filtering your wine will only remove the haze particles and yeast cells. The Filter Papers only retain solid particles so your wine's flavour and body will be unaffected.

Fruit Picker

I pick a lot of my fruit from the countryside so it is not practical to take a pair of ladders with me. Also resting a ladder against a tree can be dangerous if you dont secure it properly. I have found the safest and easiest way to pick fruit from trees is to use a Fruit Picker . This is a device that fits on the end of a pole has upturned 'fingers' that you use to pull the fruit from the branches. When the fruit falls it is caught in a bag.

fruit picker


This can save a lot of mess on your work surfaces. Funnels are often used when you are pouring liquid into narrow necks - bottles, demijohns, jars etc.


Measuring Jugs are useful for measuring liquid volumes.


You will need to label your demijohns to identify their contents and the date you carried out different operations (date fermentation started, date of each racking etc). For this I use card labels that are tied to the demijohn handles with a small length of thread.

Also you will need to label your wine bottles. You can either print off your own labels from templates that are available on the internet or you can buy ready made Self Adhesive Wine Bottle Labels .

Pestle and Mortar

I find a Pestle & Mortar useful for grinding up Campden Tablets. They are difficult to disolve in tablet form and crushing them to powder speeds this up considerably.


Kitchen Scales are useful for measuring out the weights of your ingredients.


Not strictly required for wine making. This is a device for grinding up apples and pears that consists of a hopper with a rotating drum at the bottom that contains blades. The one pictured here is one I made myself from a piece of plastic laminated chipboard with an oak drum that has a lot of stainless steel screws sticking out of its surface. It is made to rotate using an electric drill. As the apples fall onto the drum small pieces of apple are 'scraped' from the surface and collect in a brewing bucket below. The small apple chunks are later pressed to squeeze out the apple juice. If you cannot make your own then you may try using a Food Blender in its place.



Mainly used for measuring out or stirring. I find the ladel sized ones particularly useful for stirring the fruit/ juice mixture during fermentation.


Useful for fitting to your plastic tube when siphoning wine from demijohn to bottle. Without a tap you have to stop the flow by placing your finger over the tube end. This is difficult to do without spraying wine everywhere as the wine level rushes up the bottle neck very quickly. See Siphon for photo.

Testing Jar

This a small jar that is used to test the strength of your wine with your hydrometer. You pour out a small amount of your liquid into the Trial Jar and measure how high the Hydrometer floats. Alternatively you can put your hydrometer straight into the demijohn but if there is no sugar left in your juice then it almost sinks completely making it difficult to grab hold of it to get it out through the narrow neck.

Tip: If you do insert your hydrometer directly into the demijohn then tie a small length of cotton around it so you can easily fish it out if it sinks too far.


This is a small tester made from glass that you use to measure the alcohol content of your wine. Pour some wine into the bowl at the top and let it flow down the thin tube until it drips out of the bottom. Next turn the vinometer upside down. The wine in the bowl will run out but that in the tube will stay in place but sink in level (as shown on the right). The level to which the wine falls is read off a scale on the side of the tube giving a measure, in percent, of the alcohol content.


Wine Press

A wine press or Fruit Press will extract the maximum amount of juice from any fruit. Hard fruits such as apples will first need to be pulped using a scratter. The pulped fruit is poured into the press cage (the barrel-like part) and is pressed by a wooden piston by winding down the threaded lever rod. As the pressure increases, juice flows from between the cage staves that are positioned closely to prevent the escape of pips and skin. The juice flows into the channel in the base plate and out through the lip. Once the fruit is pressed dry, the piston is unwound, the cage lifted off and the cake of dry pulp pushed out - a good addition to the compost heap.

wine or fruit press

Wine Racks

Wine Racks come in all sorts of sizes, styles, finishes and shapes. You can buy self-assembled racks or you can buy them as fixed units. Your choice of rack will depend on your needs, tastes, available space and budget.

When choosing your rack make sure that the bottle space is wide enough to hold a bottle of Champagne, as this is one of the widest bottles you are likely to store.

It is important that you locate your rack in a suitable place:

  1. Secure - some of your wine may be valuable,
  2. Ideally at a constant temperature of between 9 to 15 degrees C,
  3. Slightly humid environment to prevent the cork drying out,
  4. In a dark place - sunlight can spoil a wine's colour or slowly 'cook' it in the bottle,
  5. Free from vibration - you dont want any sediment agitated into the wine.
wine rack

Wine Thief

This is a glass or food-grade plastic pipette used to remove a small amount of wine from a demijohn or other vessel for testing.

You can also use the wine thief with a length of tubing to syphon wine from one container to the other (racking) or to transfer the wine to bottles.

wine thief


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