How To Make Prison Wine

Hello wine enthusiasts! I’m excited to guide you through a unique journey into the realm of winemaking today. In this article, we’ll explore a topic that’s a bit out of the ordinary – the craft …

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Hello wine enthusiasts! I’m excited to guide you through a unique journey into the realm of winemaking today. In this article, we’ll explore a topic that’s a bit out of the ordinary – the craft of producing prison wine. I want to assure you right from the start that my intention is not to promote or condone any illegal activities. Rather, my goal is to share some fascinating insights into a method of winemaking that has a long history within the walls of prisons. So, let’s lift our glasses and dive in!

The Art of Prison Wine

Behind the bars of a prison, where resources are limited and access to quality ingredients is restricted, inmates have found a way to make wine using basic ingredients commonly found in the commissary. This homemade concoction, often called “pruno” or “prison wine,” has been both a source of comfort and a means of escape from the harsh reality of incarceration.

A Prisoner’s Ingenuity

The process of making prison wine requires resourcefulness and creativity. Inmates typically use a combination of fruit, sugar, water, and yeast to ferment the mixture. The fruit can range from apples and oranges to raisins or even fruit cocktail – anything that can provide natural sugars to kickstart fermentation.

The sugar plays a vital role in the fermenting process, as yeast feeds off the sugars and converts them into alcohol. In prison, sugar can be obtained from various sources, such as packets of sugar from the cafeteria, powdered drink mixes, or even stolen packets of ketchup and honey.

The Fermentation Process

Now that we have the ingredients, it’s time to put them to work. Inmates often use a plastic bag or container to mix the ingredients. They add the fruit, sugar, and yeast into the container and then fill it up with warm water. The mixture is then sealed tightly and hidden away in a warm, dark place.

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Over the next few days, the yeast starts to break down the sugars in the fruit, producing carbon dioxide and alcohol as byproducts. The container needs to be burped periodically to release the buildup of gases. Some inmates use a makeshift airlock system to prevent contamination and ensure a cleaner fermentation process.

Time and Patience

Patience is a virtue when it comes to making prison wine. The fermentation process can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on the ambient temperature and the desired alcohol content. Inmates often check the progress by observing the bubbles and smelling the aroma of the mixture.

Once the fermentation is complete, the homemade wine is strained to remove any remaining fruit solids and transferred into another container for a secondary fermentation. This helps to clarify the wine and improve its taste.

My Thoughts on Prison Wine

While the concept of prison wine may seem intriguing, it’s essential to acknowledge the underlying circumstances that lead to its creation. Prison wine is a product born out of desperation, limited resources, and a desire for escapism during a challenging time.

As a wine enthusiast, I appreciate the artistry and dedication that goes into winemaking. However, I believe that wine should be enjoyed responsibly and with the utmost respect for the craft and the legalities surrounding it.


So, there you have it – a glimpse into the world of prison wine. While the process may be fascinating from a creative standpoint, it’s crucial to remember that winemaking is best left to the professionals who have access to quality ingredients, proper equipment, and a deep understanding of the art.

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As wine lovers, let’s raise our glasses to the beauty of legal and ethically-produced wines and savor each sip with the knowledge that it is the result of centuries of winemaking tradition and expertise.

John has been a hobbyist winemaker for several years, with a few friends who are winery owners. He writes mostly about winemaking topics for newer home vintners.
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