Crafting Cherry Wine: A Comprehensive Guide

by Kaia

Wine enthusiasts and home winemakers alike appreciate the art of transforming luscious fruits into delightful wines. Cherry wine, known for its rich flavors and vibrant colors, offers a unique and satisfying experience for those who seek to make wine at home. In this comprehensive guide, we will take you through the step-by-step process of making cherry wine, from selecting the right cherries to bottling and aging your homemade creation. Whether you’re a seasoned winemaker or a novice, crafting cherry wine is an enjoyable and rewarding endeavor.


Selecting the Right Cherries

The first and most crucial step in making cherry wine is selecting the right cherries. The type and quality of cherries you choose will significantly influence the final flavor and aroma of your wine. Here are some key considerations:


Cherry Varieties: There are various cherry varieties to choose from, each with its unique characteristics. Sour cherries, such as Montmorency or Morello, are commonly used for cherry wine due to their tartness and bold flavor. Sweet cherries, like Bing or Rainier, can also be used, but they may require more sugar to balance their sweetness.


Ripeness: Select ripe cherries for the best flavor. Ripe cherries are plump, firm, and have a deep color. Avoid overripe or underripe fruit, as it can affect the wine’s balance.


Pits or Pitted: Decide whether you want to work with cherries that still have their pits or those that have been pitted. Pitting cherries can be time-consuming but may result in a smoother winemaking process.

Quantity: Determine how much cherry wine you want to make and calculate the quantity of cherries you’ll need accordingly. A standard recipe often requires around 15-20 pounds of cherries to make 5 gallons of wine.

Preparing the Cherries

Once you’ve selected the right cherries, it’s time to prepare them for winemaking. Follow these steps:

Washing: Rinse the cherries thoroughly in cold water to remove any dirt or debris.

Pitting: If you’re working with cherries that still have their pits, you’ll need to pit them. You can use a cherry pitter or a small knife for this task. Be patient; it can be time-consuming but is essential for a smooth winemaking process.

Crushing or Mashing: To extract the juice from the cherries, you’ll need to crush or mash them. You can use a potato masher, a sanitized plastic paddle, or your hands. Ensure that the cherries are thoroughly mashed to release their juices.

Creating a Must

A must is a mixture of crushed or mashed fruit, sugar, and sometimes water, which serves as the base for your wine. Here’s how to create a must for your cherry wine:

Combine Cherries and Sugar: Place the mashed cherries in a large, clean container, such as a food-grade plastic bucket or a glass carboy. Add sugar to the cherries, typically around 2-3 pounds of sugar per gallon of wine, depending on the sweetness of the cherries and your desired sweetness level. Stir well to dissolve the sugar.

Optional Additions: You can add optional ingredients like pectic enzyme (to help clarify the wine), acid blend (to adjust acidity), and yeast nutrient (to provide essential nutrients for fermentation). Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for these additives.

Cover and Wait: Cover the container with a clean cloth or lid fitted with an airlock to allow gases to escape while preventing contaminants from entering. Let the must sit for 24-48 hours to allow the sugar to dissolve, and the cherries to release their juices.


Fermentation is the magical process that transforms your cherry must into wine. To start fermentation, you’ll need to introduce yeast, which will consume the sugars and produce alcohol. Follow these steps:

Yeast Selection: Choose a wine yeast strain suitable for fruit wines. Many wine supply stores offer specific yeast strains designed for cherry wine. Follow the package instructions for rehydration.

Pitching the Yeast: Add the rehydrated yeast to the must. Stir gently to distribute the yeast evenly.

Fermentation Container: Transfer the must, along with the yeast, into a fermentation vessel with an airlock. This can be a glass carboy, plastic bucket, or another food-grade container.

Fermentation Temperature: Maintain a consistent fermentation temperature, ideally between 70-75°F (21-24°C), to ensure the yeast remains active and produces the desired flavors.

Fermentation Process: Allow the wine to ferment for about 1-2 weeks or until the bubbling activity in the airlock slows down significantly. This indicates that the primary fermentation is complete.

Racking and Secondary Fermentation

After the primary fermentation, it’s time to transfer the wine to a secondary fermentation vessel. This step helps clarify the wine and prevents off-flavors from developing. Follow these steps:

Prepare a Clean Container: Choose a clean and sanitized glass carboy or another fermentation vessel. Ensure it’s large enough to hold the wine with some headspace.

Siphoning: Carefully siphon the wine from the primary fermentation vessel into the secondary vessel. Be cautious not to transfer the sediment at the bottom of the primary container.

Airlock: Attach an airlock to the secondary vessel to allow gases to escape during the secondary fermentation. Place the vessel in a cool, dark area for the secondary fermentation, which typically lasts 4-6 weeks.

Clarification and Stabilization

During the secondary fermentation and aging process, your cherry wine will naturally begin to clarify. However, you can assist this process by adding fining agents or using other clarification methods:

Fining Agents: Consider using fining agents like bentonite, isinglass, or gelatin to help clarify the wine. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the specific fining agent you choose.

Cold Stabilization: If your wine still appears cloudy after fining, you can try cold stabilization. Place the wine in a cold environment (around 32-40°F or 0-4°C) for several weeks, which can help settle and clarify the wine.

Testing and Adjusting

Throughout the winemaking process, it’s essential to monitor and adjust various aspects of your cherry wine:

Acidity: Use a pH meter and acidity testing kit to measure and adjust the wine’s acidity levels if necessary. Cherries vary in acidity, so it’s crucial to find the right balance.

Sulfite Levels: Add sulfites, such as potassium metabisulfite, to protect the wine from oxidation and microbial spoilage. Follow recommended dosages.

Taste Testing: Regularly taste the wine to monitor its flavor and aroma development. Adjust sweetness or acidity as needed to achieve your desired balance.

Clear Wine: Ensure that the wine is clear and free of sediment before bottling. If needed, use a wine filter to achieve clarity.

Bottling and Aging

Once your cherry wine has reached the desired clarity and flavor profile, it’s time to bottle it. Follow these steps for a successful bottling process:

Clean Bottles: Thoroughly clean and sanitize wine bottles and cork closures or screw caps. Ensure they are free from any residues or contaminants.

Racking: Carefully siphon the clear wine from the secondary fermentation vessel into your clean bottles. Leave some headspace at the top of each bottle to allow for expansion.

Corking or Capping: Depending on your preference, cork the bottles using a corking machine or seal them with screw caps. Ensure a tight seal to prevent air from entering.

Labeling: Label your bottles with essential information, including the vintage year, varietal (cherry), and any other details you want to include.

Storage: Store the bottled wine in a cool, dark, and stable environment for aging. Cherry wine typically benefits from at least 6 months to a year of aging in the bottle.


Crafting cherry wine at home is a rewarding and fulfilling experience that allows you to savor the flavors of fresh cherries in every sip. By carefully selecting cherries, managing fermentation, and taking the time to monitor and adjust the wine’s progress, you can create a personalized cherry wine that reflects your taste and preferences.



© 2023 Copyright