A couple years ago Kim and I attended a basic wine making class at the Common Ground Fair. A large, bearded gentleman in a jean jacket stood before the crowd with a five gallon bucket in hand and said, “I’m going to keep this real simple!” Since then we have had a great deal of fun with the skills learned that day. We give wine for gifts, bring it to holiday gatherings, bbqs, and parties.
We’ve also utilized wine for bartering as well. Exchanging for goods as well as pay back for good deeds done. Plus it’s just plain old satisfying to sit down and enjoy an ice cold glass of relaxation that you created yourself.
To get started you’ll need an air tight container with an air lock. We use a multitude of different containers including 5 gallon buckets, jugs, jars, and carbouy’s. The air lock is just a water chamber that keeps air from entering the wine and lets the gasses out. Clean all containers including bottles with bleach and water. Rinse well!!
We have made a great deal of apple, strawberry, and blueberry wine as well as a multitude of other fruity flavors, too many to mention. I start by soaking roughly 1.5 gals of fruit in roughly 3 to 4 gals of water, mash it a bit and let it set in a cool place a couple of days to absorb the flavor. A refrigerator is the best bet or set it outside if it’s cool enough. Basically your making a fruit infused water. Next I strain off the fruit and add 10lbs of sugar and 1 tablespoon of yeast to the juice or fruit water. Sometimes I use bread yeast and sometimes I use a packet of wine yeast. Both work fine however the wine yeast is a bit more user friendly. It forms a hard layer when it drops out of suspension. If you start with a fruit juice make sure it does not contain preservatives, which could stop the yeast from working. This recipe will not work with grapes so don’t try it, just trust me on that!!
We’ve also fermented tea and lemonade adding a bit of ginger which was a big hit with the ladies. I’ll do a post on that at another time.
70 degrees is the preferred temperature for fermentation to occur so find an area in your home that is closest to that if possible. It is not an exact science so don’t overthink it, we don’t and we are able to pull it off. We live in an old farmhouse and the temperatures can vary room to room by 20 degrees in the winter. The beauty and curse of wood heat.
The magic begins in 2 days. The yeast grow and consume the sugar creating a byproduct of alcohol and CO2. Place the container out of direct sunlight and it will make a wonderful bubbling noise until the sugar is gone or the alcohol content is too high for the yeast to survive. They die and fall to the bottom in roughly 8 weeks give or take a few weeks.
Lastly, siphon it into sterilized wine bottles or mason jars. Pour over ice & enjoy!