Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Grape Wine

 As a college student I used to love making wine. We lived in Miamisburg at the time and had a basement and that's where I turned out some wonderful wines. I'd use fresh fruit when I had enough to make a gallon or I'd use various concentrates, many made just for this purpose. Homemade wine is wonderful and easy to make.
 Recently we made a batch of apricot wine and yesterday I began a gallon of grape.

 This particular wine is as easy as can be. I simply used Welch's frozen grape concentrate as the base. The basic recipe for one gallon is available at many sites on the net but here's all there is to it:

Welch's Grape Wine

2 cans Welch's frozen grape juice concentrate (11.5 ounce per can)
1-1/4 pounds granulated sugar (that's 2.8 cups)
2 teaspoons acid blend
1 teaspoon pectic enzyme
1 teaspoon yeast nutrient
wine yeast (I prefer Montrachet)
water to make 1 gallon

 The odd ingredients are common to wine-makers though you won't find them in your neighborhood grocery store. They're inexpensive, though, and easily ordered on the net. I use Winemakersdepot.

 Here's how to make the wine: dissolve the sugar in a quart of tap water. You can heat it in a pan if you like but I've never found boiling necessary. Add some water to a one gallon glass jug and pour in the Welch's (which you've allowed to melt). Add the sugar water. I use a measuring cup and some more water to dissolve the acid blend, pectic enzyme and yeast nutrient. Pour this into the gallon jug too.
 Before you add the yeast, it's important that the liquid in the jug not be too hot. Let it sit for a few hours until it's room temperature or a little warmer (not above 100° or so). Let the different chemicals meld together. I waited six hours before I added the yeast.
 Prepare the yeast by placing it in warm water (half a packet of Montrachet is perfect). Again, don't have the water warmer than about 100° or you'll kill the yeast. Stir with a plastic spoon (I don't like using metal for this). Pour into the gallon jug with everything else and then add enough additional water to top it off. Leave a couple of inches for a bit of foam to form.
 Plug the top with a fermentation lock. After just 12 hours, this is what you should see:

 It's already bubbling along at quite a nice clip. And, being fall, our house is quite cool ... say 65°.
 The fermentation will drop off over the next couple of weeks. I'll rack the wine off when it's finished (about 30 days) and then age the wine a while in wine bottles to give it a better taste. "Racking" it involves siphoning the wine from the gallon container while leaving the "dregs" (the sediment) still in the jar. I just use a length of plastic aquarium tubing.
 By New Year's Eve we'll be enjoying a taste!

11/24/11: Here's the wine just 24 hours after the last video, showing how the pace of fermentation has increased. I aimed the camera at the tiny bubbles flowing up the inside of the glass jug but you can hear the pop-pop-pop of the fermentation lock. It's beating faster than a clock ...

Later: We finally racked this wine on 02/03/12. That's a l-o-n-g time for wine to process (a month is often enough time) but we continued to have fermentation and we knew we had to let it alone. Finally we were getting a bubble through the fermentation lock very infrequently so we decided to finish up.
 Racking is simply siphoning the wine off the dregs that settle to the bottom of the fermentation vessel. I used aquarium tubing. It's a slow, steady process with such a small diameter tube but it works fine.
 Today (02/04/12) we bottled the wine. I have a capper and we used old (thoroughly washed) beer bottles (see below). Each is just a 12 ounce serving of wine and that's perfect. We got nearly 10 bottles (thus very little was wasted).
 We'll let it age a while ... and then we'll enjoy. A few of these bottles will make great gifts throughout the coming year.

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