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Visit Sodalitas Coquorum et Cerevisiae Coctorum (The Society of Cooks and Brewers).

Weights and measures

One-Gallon Winemaker

This is a very basic set of instructions for the beginning home winemaker, using 11.5 oz cans of liquid or frozen juice concentrates.

Make sure that the juice you wish to use does not contain any preservatives, such as sorbates or benzoates; the yeast won't be able to reproduce and then do its work. Nutritive additives, such as ascorbic or citric acid; will help the fermentation and the flavor.

Anything that contains sugars can be fermented into an alcoholic beverage. Some raw materials work better than others for making a nicely flavored drink: grapes, apples, honey, malted barley, and the like. (The winemaker’s motto: If it has sugar, it ferments!) We'll concentrate on grapes and other fruits herein.

We’re not looking at fine vintage wines as an end result. But, these juices will make nice, drinkable table wines.

You have the necessary gear if you’ve been making mead or beer. If not, very little equipment is actually needed.

Basic Equipment List

  • a 6-quart stainless or enameled pot,
  • a plastic stirring spoon,
  • 1 qt capacity measuring cup,
  • set of kitchen measuring spoons,
  • a 2 gal food grade plastic tub with snap lid drilled for a rubber stopper/airlock (primary fermenter),
  • clear plastic sheet large enough to cover the tub,
  • 2-1 gallon glass jugs (secondary fermenter) with 1 drilled rubber stopper to fit,
  • airlock,
  • 3” x 3/8” inside diameter clear aquarium water line,
  • 2 cleaned/sanitized screw top plastic soda bottles with caps (2 L size work well).

We will be using dried all-purpose wine yeast for all of the following.

Unscented household bleach can be used as a sanitizer; be sure and rinse thoroughly.

Basic Process

Gather all equipment and ingredients per recipe. Sanitize the equipment and working area. Bring 1 qt of water to a boil, and then turn off the heat. Dissolve in the concentrate and any extra sugar. Dissolve in any additives, including 1 crushed Campden tablet. Pour into the primary fermenter with 1 qt very cold water. Top off to 1 gallon, cover with the plastic sheet and let rest at least 24 hours. (DON'T ADD THE YEAST UNTIL THE REST PERIOD IS OVER!) Rehydrate the yeast in 1 cup of warm water for 15 minutes and stir it into the must (readied wine base). Cover with the plastic sheet; stir the yeasty foam cap down twice a day for three days. On day 4 snap on the cover and insert the water-filled airlock. Siphon off the debris after 1 week to the glass secondary. Top off to 1-gallon with boiled tap water. Let the wine ferment until all activity ceases. Siphon to the second glass jug and then top off with sufficient boiled water in which 1/2 Campden tablet has been dissolved. Airlock and let rest 3 weeks to clear. Siphon into the two soda bottles and cap. Let age 2 to 3 months.

Basic Red or White Grape: 3 cans concentrate, 1 c table sugar, 1 t acid blend, 1/2 t pectic enzyme, 1 t nutrient, 1 pkg wine yeast

Basic Apple: 2 cans concentrate, 2 c sugar, 1 1/2 t acid blend, 1/2 t pectic, 1/4 t tannin, 1 t nutrient, 1 pkg wine yeast

Basic Cherry: 4 cans concentrate, 1 t acid, 1/2 t pectic, 1 t nutrient, 1 pkg wine yeast

Honey can be substituted at a rate of 1 1/4 c per 1 c sugar.

Making wine from fresh fruit need not be thought of as difficult either. The main difference is the bulk of the ingredients. But, that is a discussion for another series of articles, as is more technically involved vinting.

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