Who Needs a Fancy Vintner When You Can Make Your Own Wine at a Fraction of the Cost?
We’ve all been there. You swing by the store after a tough day at work to grab a bottle of wine, only to realize that every other woman in town has the same idea. The parking lot’s crammed, and you don’t feel like waiting in line. If you’d made your own wine, you’d have a ready supply already waiting for you at home. It’s not a complicated process, and you don’t have to invest in a lot of fancy, expensive equipment. Here are two ways to go about it: The concentrate version involves less work, but the frozen fruit method often results in a better wine.
Total Time: 5 to 6 weeks | Prep Time: 10 to 60 minutes | Servings: 1 gallon
- 0.25-ounce package active dry yeast
- 4 cups sugar
- 12 ounces frozen unsweetened juice concentrate, thawed, or 4 pounds frozen fruit
- Up to 1 gallon cold water
Directions for Using Juice Concentrate:
- In a gallon-sized glass jug, combine the yeast and sugar. Seal the opening with your thumb or a paper towel and shake the jug well to combine. Add the juice concentrate and repeat the process.
- Fill the jug with cold water. Fit a large, clean balloon over the opening of the jug and fix it on tightly with a rubber band.
- Place the jug in a cool, dark place. The balloon will start to inflate after a few hours as the sugar begins to turn to alcohol and releases gases. When the balloon deflates again, usually after about six weeks, you’ll have wine.
Directions for Using Frozen Fruit:
- Freeze fresh fruit at least three days before you plan to make the wine. Alternatively, you can buy frozen fruit.
- Combine the sugar and the water in a large pot. Place the pot over high heat and bring the sugar water to a full boil. Pour the boiling sugar water over the frozen fruit in a crock or other large vessel.
- Stir the mixture and seal the crock well. You’ll want it as airtight as possible. Set it aside overnight.
- After about 24 hours, mash the fruit with your hands or with the back of a large spoon. Add the yeast and the stir it in well. Seal the crock tightly and set it aside again overnight.
- Stir the mixture once a day for the next six days.
- After a week, you’re ready to transfer your wine into glass jugs. Remove all remaining pulp and any yeast sentiment that’s accumulated by pouring the mixture through an extra-fine sieve or strainer lined with cheesecloth. Alternatively, you can siphon the wine off the top, transferring it to jugs, but take care not to jostle the crock before you do so. The yeast and pulp should have settled to the bottom and you’ll want it to stay there.
- Fill the jugs to about 4 inches from the top. Seal them so they are airtight and set them aside in a cool, dark place for about a month.
You can use any kind of fruit you like, although citrus is not recommended. Blackberries and loganberries produce a full-bodied wine, whereas blueberries make for a much sweeter, lighter wine. Wine made from apples or pears is very sweet.
It is imperative to seal your containers tightly and correctly. If air gets inside, you’ll end up with vinegar instead of wine.
You don’t necessarily have to go out and buy special jugs, although this may be preferable. Most come with airlocks with rubber stoppers, ensuring perfect wine instead of vinegar. You can also buy your wine in jugs until you’re ready to make your own, then clean them out and save them for your own vintage.
Beverly Bird has been writing professionally for over 30 years, specializing in issues of personal finance. She has offered personal finance workshops for single, divorced, and new parents.