Alternative Process Tipster: Developing with Wine – Yes We Can!


For our next chapter on the more resource-efficient developing processes for black and white negatives, we came across a recipe with wine development. Yes, you heard it right! It is possible to develop black and white films with red wine! Don't worry; we are not going to waste a wine that you would rather drink. Our film of choice for this tipster was the Lomography Earl Grey 100 ISO.

What you will need is the cheapest red wine available at any supermarket. Because, as we previously discovered, the component that allows the developing process is the Caffeic acid.

The Ingredients

The process is quite similar to the one we used for Caffenol. The quantities of our ingredients changed, and we have three main components. Here is the list of all the ingredients and tools you'll need. None of these ingredients are toxic to your skin, however, in case you have sensitive skin, or you don't want to spot your clothing with red wine stains (which might be a bit hard to clean after), we recommend using gloves.

  • 500 ml red wine
  • 50gr of washing soda
  • 3gr of vitamin C
  • Scale
  • Timer
Ingredients and tools for developing

The Process and Developing Steps

The concentration of Caffenol in red wine is lower compared to the one in instant coffee. Since Caffenol is what makes the process possible, we must adjust our development time. Thus the time gets substantially longer. You will develop for 45 minutes.

Pictures above are steps 1-2-3-4


The first step is to always spool your film into your reel. You must proceed with this task in complete darkness. Once you have secured the negative into your developing tank, you will mix the washing soda, vitamin C, and wine. Your liquid will turn bluish.

Check your liquid temperature and make sure it is at 20°C. Pour your solution into the tank and simultaneously start the timer set at 45 minutes. Rotation will be every 1 minute. After completing the developing time, you can safely dump your solution down the drain.

First Wash

Start washing your film with running water. Fill your tank and dump at least three times. Proceed to get your fixer ready.


For the fixing, we followed the chart suggested by the producer. I used Ilford Rapid Fixer and a 1:4 one part fixer, and 4 part water. Fix for 5 minutes, with agitation every 30 seconds. Usually, you can still reuse your fixer for some more development. We suggest keeping a container with a proper label, with the date and solution used, to securely store your fixer. In case it runs out of life or expires, you must dispose of your fixer according to your municipality to the proper discharger. You can also give it to your trusted film lab that will take care of it, but we discourage dumping it down your sink as it is heavily toxic for the environment.

Second Wash

The last step is washing the fixer away. Run the water thoroughly into the tank once and empty the liquids in the sink. Repeat three times and agitate the water to be sure that it goes between every inch of your film.


You can now safely open your tank and check out the results. Let it dry overnight. We don't recommend drying your negative film with your hairdryer as at this stage, the film is still wet, and there is a high risk for the dust to stick on your negative.

The Final Results

The negatives that you see here are straight out of the scanner. No edits have been made. I wanted to show what you get from the developing process. Earl Grey is supposed to have more contrast as a black and white negative film. When I shot the snow, the results are of subtle contrast. While in sunlight, we have a much closer result to the natural qualities of this negative. The contrasts are more accentuated.

The 45-minute developing time is a long process. The longevity of these steps also makes it time-consuming. Therefore, you should consider if it is the best way to go for the negative film you have shot previously.

The developing agent we look for is the Cafeic acid, and as it is not labeled by the winemakers on wine bottles because usually, that's not what we look for in a wine. There is no chance to know which kind of wine could be best for this kind of purpose.

Based on this experiment and my results, to successfully develop with wine and get a good, contrasty negative is that you would need to shoot under bright sunlight. Perhaps a sunny summer day will be an optimal scene to allow a starker and more contrasted black and white negative film development.

Let us know when you've tried this alternative process tipster! Share your thoughts on this article, and tell us about your experience – you can also discover more tutorials on our Magazine for film self-development hacks and alternative process. Make sure to upload your photos from this tipster on our Community!

written by eparrino on 2022-01-13 #tutorials #alternative-process #film-development #self-development #alternativeprocess #wine-developing


  1. leisuresuit
    leisuresuit ·

    Great article!

  2. threolin
    threolin ·

    Thanks, quite interesting!

  3. antoniocastello
    antoniocastello ·

    nice, I haven't tried with wine yet. I do it with dark beer and the process takes only like 15 minutes.

  4. trad69
    trad69 ·

    Interesting to know in case developer or coffee supplies dry up, but will stick with drinking the wine for now !

  5. guypinhas
    guypinhas ·


  6. drkold
    drkold ·

    This is awesome. I used to develop B&W and color positive film using various chemicals. The idea of using wine sounds like fun.

  7. rebello
    rebello ·

    Well, although it is nice to experiment (and know that you can develop BW film with wine), I think an operation which takes 45 minutes makes it pointless. My advice is: keep doing photography with photography chemicals. Likewise, don't drink any brand of developer; drink wine instead.

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