Wine of the Month, Wild Grape Wine

Our wine of the month is wild grape. When it comes to winemaking, grapes are generally classified into three separate groups: wild, wine, and European wine. Wild grape wine can be made with grape varietals such as Muscadine, Fox, and Frost. These grapes are high in acid, low in sugar, and assertive in flavor. We’ve got the lowdown on this delicious recipe! We’ll tell you where to find the grapes, their various health benefits, and which foods they pair best with.
Why should I make wild grape wine?
It comes as a surprise to many that wine can be healthy. When you make wild grape wine, the seeds of the grapes contain polyphenols, which are micronutrients containing anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Evidence has proven that polyphenols can help prevent cancer, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. Wild grapes also contain vitamins B1, B6, C, manganese, and potassium. Check out our wild grape wine recipe to get started!
20lbs of Wild Grapes
10 lbs. of Sugar
2 tbsp. of Yeast Nutrient
¾ tsp. of Pectic Enzyme
½ Wine Tannin
Yeast EC-1118
Wondering why this recipe calls for so much sugar? Keep in mind that because wild grapes contain the lowest amounts of sugar, they will need the most added to make wine. Pressing the wild grapes, however, can be done very quickly because a small tabletop press can crush 50-100 lbs. of grapes (about 15 lbs. a time). This recipe should make at least 5 gallons. If you’re a bit rusty on wine making with grapes, check out our guide to give your memory a refresh.

Where and how can I find wild grapes?

Unlike other grapes that tend to grow in clusters, wild grapes grow as separate berries. These are typically a bit smaller than other grapes, and can be black, purple, or dark blue. Fortunately, wild grapes can be found in almost any climate. Their vines, which grow very quickly and tend to climb and envelop structures, can be found along roads, fences, forests, and riverbanks. In fact, the wild grape is also called the riverbank grape!

What foods does wild grape wine pair best with?

The pungent taste and aroma of wild grape wine pairs especially well with rich dishes and meats. Similar to merlot, malbec, pinot noir, and cabernet sauvignon, this variety compliments beef, steak, game, lamb, pasta entrees, and rich cheeses very well. The bold flavor of this recipe will make your meaty and cheesy dishes that much better.
So next time you venture outside, keep your eyes peeled for the winding vines with the dark grapes- they might just help you make your next batch of wine! For more information on the home winemaking process and the tools you’ll need, check out our winemaking equipment and accessories.

Incorporating Fruit into Your Homemade Wine

Have you had success with making homemade grape wine and want to branch out into something a little different? Do you have fruit trees on your property and want to be able to use that extra fruit in your wine-making? Adding fruit to your homemade wine is a little different than making wine entirely from grapes, but it’s not difficult to do.
Beyond Grapes
Homemade grape wine isn’t the only tasty wine that a amateur winemaker can create. Peaches, plums, apricots, cherries, strawberries, currants, blackberries and nectarines are just some of the fruits that can be fermented in wine-making to create wine at home. The best fruits to use are fully ripe and fresh off of the vine. Thus, it’s best to avoid grocery store fruit and deal with your local orchard or farmers market instead. If you have your own fruit trees or plants that’s even better.
Preparing the Fruit

  • To prepare your fruit, clean the fruit gently in a 1:40 bleach solution to get kid of any bacteria, dirt or residue from pesticides.
  • Rinse thoroughly twice with fresh water and pat dry.
  • Cut the large fruit in half and gently remove the stones, if applicable.
  • De-stem, if necessary, and cut out any browns spots.
  • At this point you can either freeze the fruit or proceed by adding it to your wine. Freezing the fruit helps you buy time if your fruit is ripe, but the rest of your wine isn’t quite ready. Some also feel that frozen fruit makes for tastier wine because it breaks down the fiber in the fruit.

Adding Fruit to Wine
Most fruits lack the body and substance to create a tasty wine by themselves so they are generally added to grapes or grape concentrate. To extract the juice, tie the fruit in a cheesecloth bag and mash gently with your hands over a bowl until no solids remain except for the skins. The amount of fruit to be used will vary with the fruit you chose. There are just as many recipes for making fruit wines as there are successful winemakers. All include yeast, sugar and water.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with different fruits as you gain experience as a winemaker. Wine-making shouldn’t be limited to just grapes.

Just How Organic Is Your “Organic” Wine?

As much of the world attempts to incorporate more sustainable methods into their production processes, you may wonder what your options are when it comes to drinking organic wine (or beer). Can you tell from a wine label whether it is truly organic?
There are only two farms noted as the first growers to be certified organic, which was based on an inspection of their raw materials, production methods and records by the California Department of Health Services. Only a handful of other wineries have since become certified processors of organic wines.
There are four levels of organic that winemakers can claim to help consumers know what they are really drinking (definitions from USDA guidelines):

  1. 100% Organic.  Wines claiming to be 100% Organic must be made from organically grown grapes and give information about the certifying agency. It can have naturally occurring sulfites, but the total sulfite level must be less than 20 parts per million, and it cannot have any added sulfites. When labeling your product as 100% Organic, it must contain 100% organically produced ingredients and have been processed using organically produced processing aids.
  2. Organic.  Wines claiming to be “Organic” must contain at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients, not counting added water and salt. In addition, they must not contain added sulfites and may contain up to 5% non-organically produced agricultural ingredients (provided the accredited certifying agent has determined the ingredients to be not commercially available in organic form).
  3. Made with Organic Ingredients.  Wines claiming to be “Made with Organic Ingredients” must contain at least 70% organically produced ingredients, not counting added water and salt. In addition, wine may contain added sulfites and may contain up to 30% non-organically produced agricultural ingredients and/or other substances.
  4. Some Organic Ingredients.  This level is identical to “Made with Organic Ingredients” but must indicate the presence of non-organic grapes in the “made with Organic…” statement on the label to qualify.

While it might be difficult to make your own organic wine at home, you can still read “Home Winemaking For Dummies” and come up with some creative wine recipes.

Popular Wine Recipe for the Fall Grape Harvest

two wine grape varieties
It’s late August and the dog days of summer are nearly over. The sun’s rays are becoming less strong, and the daylight hours fewer as fall fast approaches. It’s time to prepare ourselves for football, harvest festivals, crisper weather, and the Super Bowl of wine making—the grape harvest!
The North American grape harvest season falls between August and October. Usually picked based on sugar, acid, and tannin levels; grapes ripen and sugars, tannins, and other phenolics develop during this season creating wine’s flavorful base.
Our favorite fall grapes for home winemaking include shiraz and cabernet sauvignon, which create  warm complex wines with hints of chocolate, vanilla, cedar, licorice, and black cherry. The perfect compliment for cooler weather and heartier meals. This wine recipe (more wine recipes) will surely be a favorite to make and savor in the months ahead.
Harvest Grape Wine Recipe

  • 13 to 15 lbs ripe fall grapes
  • 1/3 to 1/2 lb finely granulated sugar
  • 1 crushed Campden tablet
  • 3/4 tsp pectic enzyme
  • 1 pkg Lalvin 71B-1122 yeast
  • 1 tsp wine yeast nutrient

How To Make Homemade Applejack

Interested in home wine making or beer brewing but want something that offers more of a kick?  Applejack is a time-tested classic with a temperament that makes it the ideal exploratory option for any aspiring home brewer.  All you need is a finished apple wine, extremely cold temperatures, and a lidded plastic container.
To begin, be sure to use a plastic container – not glass – to reduce the risk of cracking as a result of the subzero temperatures your wine will experience during its transformation. Any subtle fruit wine can be used to achieve the same delicious results for a distinctive experience.  Using homemade wines will give you the most control over your final product and are just as easy to make.
The most difficult step is often just finding a place to store your wine at below freezing temperatures.  This enables a process to occur known as fractional crystallization, in which the water in the wine will freeze and rise to the top, while the alcohol remains in liquid form.  Scooping off the ice buildup everyday will result in more concentrated alcohol content and a more intense apple flavor.
The initial alcohol content of your wine has no bearing on the final levels that will be expressed in your Applejack. The temperature at which the wine is stored directly determines the amount of ice that will ultimately form, which determines the resulting alcohol concentration.  At zero degrees, ice will appear until 14% alcohol by volume is reached, and at 30 below you can attain an alcohol concentration of 33% (66 proof).  That is substantially higher than the 5% alcohol per volume championed by hard ciders and the 10-12% offered by apple wines.
So, how did this ingenious beverage come to be? Applejack reached its peak popularity a few hundred years ago in the New England colonies, who had barrels of apple wine that would freeze during the winter and thaw come spring – being a heck of a lot stronger.  After using your wine making kits to develop the perfect apple wine, celebrate history with some homemade Applejack!

Homegrown Grapes for Wine Making

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Whether you are an old pro at home wine making or just getting started, there is so much potential to create your own signature flavors and creations. Many wine-makers enjoy doing so by growing their own batch of grapes. Homegrown grapes are a growing trend in wine making, and a great way to get more involved in the flavor creation process.

Different grapes prosper in different regions, so before getting started it’s important to carefully research which grapes will grow optimally in your specific location and climate. One popular type is vitis vinifera, a grape that produces popular flavors such as Chardonnay, Merlot, White Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Vitis vinifera derives from a European grape family, and is commonly found in areas such as the Pacific Northwest, California, and Mid-Atlantic regions with milder climates. For colder or wetter climates, alternate grape options are often found. Vitis labrusca grapes are a common type of grape less vulnerable to cold, and may be successfully grown in northern regions.

Now, for the grape growing. After you have researched the best type of grapes to successfully grow in your region, get started with planting vines. The best time of the year to plant vines is early spring. Vines generally take about three years to mature and bear fruit, so be prepared with some patience. Make sure to pick a very sunny location, with good soil drainage. Nutrient poor soil is optimal for grapes, because smaller, undernourished grapes produce the most flavorful wines. After planting vines, ensure that trellises are at least six feet high. As the vine continues to grow, prune and train the vine carefully and correctly.

You will see your vine blossom and mature over several years, until it finally bears fruit. Approximately ten pounds of grapes produce a gallon of wine, meaning ten to twenty vines are needed to produce a smaller batch of wine. Growing grapes is a rewarding aspect of wine making, and allows you to create distinct, authentic flavoring. Remember, great grapes make great wine. While the harvest process is important in developing strong flavors, it is just important to carefully store grapes prior to wine making. Once you get down the basics of growing grapes, break out the wine making kits, and get started on learning how to use your wine making equipment to develop your own signature creation!

Springtime Wines

Springtime Wines with Cherries
Springtime is finally in full gear, and before we know it summer will be right around the corner. With the season warming up, we thought it was appropriate to share some of our favorite springtime wines (and food pairings!). So pull out the wine making kits, sit back, and relax as we spill our best-kept springtime secrets for wine.

Sauvignon Blanc: Sauvignon Blanc and other Sauvignon blends make the perfect springtime wine. Sauvignon blends have become exceedingly popular due to their extensive variety and unmatched quality for an unbeatable price. Sauvignon blends generally give off a hint of citrus, lime, and crisp fruits, while always providing a fresh taste. Pairs well with light springtime meals including: seafood dishes, asparagus, and goat cheese.

Prosecco: Often a summertime favorite, Prosecco is a soft wine loved by many. Similar in taste to champagne, but with less of an edge, Prosecco is a charming and sparkling alternative. Drink poolside and mix with an assortment of fresh berries and fruits!

Pinot Grigio: Quality Pinot Grigio is a must-have for summer. This minerally white wine is light but not too thin. We suggest pairing this crisp wine with an Italian meal, preferably light pastas or with tomato-based sauces.

Grüner Veltliner: This white wine has an unmatched crisp-ness that is toned down with fruit flavors such as nectarine and grapefruit. Some versions are light-bodied, while others produce a more concentrated richness. This wine matches best with foods with an Asian influence, such as noodles, salad dishes, and spring rolls.

Spring is a great time of the year to pull out the wine making equipment, and create a seasonal favorite of your own. Mix and match to find your very own perfect wine pairing. Trouble figuring out what to do for a springtime recipe? Check out our recipe page to get started. Happy wine making!