There are many reasons to make homemade wine, from health to being cost conscious, but for me it’s the experience of doing something on my own and freeing myself from reliance on a store for something I enjoy.
This freedom soon translates into artistic license, because once you learn the technique and science behind wine making you are free to experiment and create wines from fruits and vegetables that you grow.
Making wine can become a hobby, or just a way to put food aside, therefore, you can spend as much or as little time, effort, and resources as you desire. I personally enjoy a cold glass of sweet tea much more than a glass of chardonnay; however, I DO enjoy seeing others enjoy the products of my labor and skill. It is pleasing to me, and worth the effort to give a bottle of MY wine as a gift, or to enjoy it with someone.We all know about the French paradox, which is that the French as a culture eat as much (or more) of the fatty foods as we do but have a much lower instance of heart disease than out American culture. While the entire reason for this is unclear, there is much evidence that the flavonoids found in the skins, seeds, stems, and pulp of dark grapes protect against heart attacks, blood clots, hardening of the arteries, Alzheimer’s, and kidney stones. It has also been bound that fermenting grape juice allows more of the flavonoids to be released than pressing into juice alone.
From a disaster prep standpoint, making wine has two good purposes, and the utility of them can be decided upon by the reader. The first is barter. If you put aside a bottle or two from every batch of wine you make, over the course of a year you will have a decent store of wine that could be traded for items you may not have. The second is that throughout history fermented beverages were served almost exclusively in place of water, as without modern infrastructure, it can become difficult for some to purify water. The fermentation process kills many harmful organisms, and the alcohol contained in wine serves as a good preservative.
So for whatever reason you want to try to make your own wine, we will give you a simple beginner recipe that you can try before you decide to invest money in a better “quality” wine.
- 5 gallon jug, carboy, or bucket with a tight fitting lid
- Rubber stopper
- 4 cans 100% grape juice concentrate, thawed (try to get a brand without sulfides- that is a preservative to inhibit fermentation)
- 4 pounds sugar
- 5 Gallons unchlorinated water (if using tap, its best to let it sit a couple days to let the chlorination dispel)
- Wine yeast
- Clean the container with hot water. It is vital that your fermentation container is clean and sterile. You do not want your juice to rot you want it to ferment. So you must kill any bad bacteria. Remember, you cannot sterilize something until it is clean.
- Pour the four cans of grape juice concentrate into the bucket, if using a carboy or jug, you will need the funnel.
- Pour in enough water to make 3 1/2 gallons of grape juice/water mixture.
- Measure 1/2 gallon of water into a large stockpot. Heat over low heat and add the 4 pounds of sugar. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. One this solution of sugar and water is completely dissolved add the entire pot of water to your fermentation container.
- Measure 3 tablespoons of sugar into a small bowl. Add 1 package of wine yeast. Add 1/4 cup hot water. I have used bread yeast and champagne yeast also. The alcohol content may be slightly different, and the fermentation times may change, but it will all work.
- It should take about 10 minutes for the yeast to activate. Once it has become “bubbly” pour the yeast mixture into the jug.
- Secure the airlock and rubber stopper on the carboy. Set the carboy in a spot where it will not be disturbed and the temperature doesn’t have a lot of fluctuation. I keep mine in an bedroom we have turned into storage. Its close enough where I can check it, the temperature is stable, and I don’t have to see it if I choose not too. I do make a concession to my bride. I keep the fermenting bucket in a big plastic container so in the event any sloshes out it will be collected and not stain her carpet.
- Allow the wine mixture to ferment for approximately one month. When the airlock no longer bubbles when the jug or carboy is tapped, the wine is done.