Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Quick, cheap and dirty wine

So out of boredom I decided to try to make wine out of grape juice. I found a recipe online that uses frozen grape juice and went to town. It does call for a few ingredients that you'll only find at a homebrew shop but those ingredients can be left out and the finished product will still be very drinkable. Here's the list of ingredients:

2 cans frozen grape juice concentrate
1 quart water
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 tbsp bread yeast
2 tsp acid blend
1 tsp pectic enzyme
1 tsp yeast nutrient
1 gallon glass or plastic jug
enough water to top off the jug after ingredients are combined

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This recipe is very easy and a good introduction to wine making. You should end up with a gallon of drinkable booze for just a few bucks. Just bring a quart of water to a boil and stir in the sugar. When the sugar is dissolved turn off the heat and stir in the frozen grape juice concentrate. It should be room temperature by the time the grape juice finishes melting. Now is the time to add the rest of the ingredients. The pectic enzyme is an enzyme that breaks down pectin. Pectin creates a cloudy haze in fruit wines. If you don't care about your wine having a cloudy haze then don't worry about this. If you do then add it just in case. The acid blend is a blend of tartaric, citric and malic acid. It adds to the flavor and character. I would consider this more important than the pectic enzyme. Again, though, you can skip it if you just want some cheap, easy hooch. The yeast nutrient is just there to get the yeast going strong. It really isn't that important if you're using bread yeast because it will most likely die off before the alcohol content gets too high no matter how good of a start it gets. If you replace the bread yeast with a real red wine yeast, though, then it will survive in greater concentrations of alcohol and result in a wine with higher alcohol content.

Anyway, once you have your booze to be ready then you need to pour it into your fermenter. The juice will only fill up about half of the gallon jug so add water to fill it so that you end up with a couple of inches of headspace. The resulting original gravity should be around 1.090 - 1.1 if you care. Add your yeast and rubber band a paper towel/napkin to the mouth of the jug. Once the fermentation settles down after a few days then attach a real air lock. Rack it to a secondary fermenter after a week or two. Let it sit for a few months before bottling. Once bottled, let it condition for a few months to a year.

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This recipe makes a dry, tart wine that will get the job done when you want to tie one on. Most importantly it's dirt cheap. Get this one down and you can make wine out of anything.


Eric said...

You should really buy an airlock they are about a dollar and will provide a much more consistent finished product. Other than that this is a great introductory recipe.

The Urban Survivalist said...

This recipe supposedly ferments pretty hard. It's not nearly as bad as I thought it would be but I've heard of several instances where it overflowed and made a huge mess. An airlock creates a lot of back pressure which practically ensures overflows. A blowoff tube works better but they tend to shoot a lot of the wine out of the blowoff tube along with the CO2 which results in some loss. The yeast also needs a lot of oxygen during the primary fermentation. The airlock goes on when the fermentation settles down.

Anonymous said...

Interesting experiment. Very Low tech. I've heard of wine made by just mashing grapes in a bucket, with water, and covering the mix with a cloth. Natural yeast on the grapes causes fermentation.

FireSteel.com said...

Ha, this reminds me when I was about 16 - my friend and I made a vat of wine using sour wild grapes we found in the Great North Woods of northern NH. Whooo - bad stuff, but it worked!

The Urban Survivalist said...

I plan on making a wine press out of some buckets. I'll document and post it up if I do it. Amazon has a pretty good one for $85, though. I keep thinking about ordering one. They usually sell for $300 so $85 is a steal.

Suburban Survivalist said...

I like it, and will probably try it out. When I was in HS (many years ago), I made some rice & raisin wine, which came out good enough. My first attempt was with grape juice and ended up as an explosion (lesson learned). Later I did a lot of beer brewing, but with kits. I'd also like to experiment with a still - ethanol could be very useful.