Whenever I imagined what it would be like to make wine, visions of myself playfully stomping on grapes, slow motion laughing with some hunky love interest as the sun set on the rolling Italian countryside swirled around my mind. For reference, picture that scene with Keanu Reeves from A Walk in the Clouds.

Unfortunately, I am a broke college student, not in Italy, and I live in a 12x16 dorm room with a view of the sun setting on a parking lot. Did I let that stop me from DIY-ing my favorite alcohol of choice? Absolutely not. 

I started by following this article on how to make wine and homemade alcohol for guidance but created an easier step-by-step recipe (and video!) with my tips and tricks for all of you lovely readers to follow. 

DIY Wine

  • Prep Time:30 mins
  • Cook Time:5 days
  • Total Time:5 days 30 mins
  • Servings:1
  • Medium


  • 1 cup + 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 packet dry active baker's yeast
  • 1 jug Welch's grape juice white or regular
  • 1 balloon
  • 1 needle
  • 2 pairs latex gloves
  • Step 1

    First, you want to activate the yeast packet according to its instructions, then let it sit for 10 minutes until it's nice and frothy.

    Ellie Gilchrist
  • Step 2

    Next, pour out about a cup of the grape juice to make room for the sugar and yeast.

    Ellie Gilchrist
  • Step 3

    Pour 1 cup of sugar into the grape juice.

    #SpoonTip: Raid your residence's kitchen for measuring cups.

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    Ellie Gilchrist
  • Step 4

    Add the yeast quickly because it will start reacting right away and you don't want it to foam over.

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    Ellie Gilchrist
  • Step 5

    Screw the cap on firmly and then shake it up until everything is dissolved.

    Ellie Gilchrist
  • Step 6

    Now comes the tricky part: Unscrew the cap carefully (don't let it explode on you like I did) just enough to let the air out. Then take your balloon and pull it over the entire top of the bottle.

    Ellie Gilchrist
  • Step 7

    Grab a needle and poke a hole in the top of the balloon to let the air escape.

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    Ellie Gilchrist
  • Step 8

    All that's left to do now is wait - store your mixture in a dark place (under your dorm sink is great) and let it ferment for anywhere from 3-9 days. Watch for the balloon to inflate.

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    Ellie Gilchrist
  • Step 9

    As I learned the hard way, it's also a good idea to buy some Febreeze and spray it liberally in the area of your fermenting wine so that your room doesn't start smelling like a brewery.

  • Step 10

    Once the mixture stops bubbling and becomes more clear, or if you want to stop the fermentation process, pop the jug in the freezer overnight to kill off the rest of the yeast.

    #SpoonTip: If you're using a mini fridge, take the balloon off and re-screw the cap before flipping it sideways to fit in that impossibly tiny freezer.

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    Ellie Gilchrist
  • Step 11

    In the morning, your mixture should be clearer and you should be able to see a layer of yeast in the bottom.

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    Ellie Gilchrist
  • Step 12

    Grab a cute XL mason jar or wine bottle and carefully pour the liquid into your sterile container, making sure no yeast transfers over.

    #SpoonTip: If you are smart and not like me, using a funnel will reduce your chances of pouring yeasty wine all over your carpet by at least 90%.

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    Ellie Gilchrist
  • Step 13

    If you want to make your wine even yummier, leave it in the fridge for a few days and repeat the yeast separation process once or twice until no yeast separates anymore.

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    Ellie Gilchrist
  • Step 14

    Grab your girls, some wine glasses— or, if that's too bad and boujee for you, any old drinking container will do—and enjoy!!

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    Ellie Gilchrist

I may have spilled yeasty sugar juice all over myself and I may have made my room temporarily smell like I was running a bootlegging business, but trying to make wine in my dorm room was so much easier than I expected. Not to mention, the fact that this somewhat yeasty smelling but otherwise delicious wine cost me only $6 is incentive enough. So what are you waiting for? Try it yourself!