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Homemade Cranberry Wine

A part-time writer who lives in Arizona and is always on the lookout for a good story.

Making a Nice Tart Wine

Winemaking essentially involves the mixing of fruit juice and sugar and then adding yeast to convert the sugar to alcohol.

While wine is generally made from grapes, other juices can be used as the base. The reason grapes are the usual fruit of choice is because of their high sugar content.

Alcohol is the by-product of the action of yeast on sugar.

When using the juices of other fruits sugar generally has to be added as the fruit generally does not contain sufficient natural sugar for full fermentation.

Grapes contain enough natural sugars to allow full fermentation.

Bottle of commercially produce berry wine from Russia

Bottle of commercially produce berry wine from Russia

The skins of fresh grapes also have a natural yeast growing on them which is probably why grape wine is one of the oldest and most common fermented beverage.

Homemade Cranberry Wine

Cranberries have always been a favorite treat in my family and, as my sisters and brothers and I grew up and learned to cook, cranberries were one of the foods we experimented with.

Among my favorite cranberry recipes is this simple recipe and process for making cranberry wine.

Years ago, when my younger brother and I began experimenting with making wine, we found that cranberry wine was the best in terms of ease of production, taste, and clarity.

Grape wine, using frozen grape juice, was just as easy, but it tended to retain a yeasty taste as well as being somewhat cloudy. In both cases, we used juices from the grocery store rather than the crushing of berries for juice.

Materials and Ingredients

  • 1 One-Gallon Glass Jug, This is to ferment the juice in
  • 2 Twelve-Ounce Cans Frozen Cranberry Juice, (OPTIONAL: 2- Sixty-four Ounce bottles of Cranberry juice)
  • 1½ Cups Sugar, If using bottled juice may want to reduce sugar as this is often sweetened
  • ¼ Teaspoon Yeast, Can use dry Baker's Yeast but is better to buy wine yeast from a wine-making store
  • ¾ Cup Warm (not hot) Water
  • 1 Rubber stopper with glass tube in it for the jug (Can also use an air-lock device in place of rubber stopper), Rubber stopper with glass tube or air-lock device can be purchased from a wine-making store
  • 12–18 Inches Plastic tubing to fit over end of glass tube, (NOTE: do not need this if using air-lock device)
  • 1 Containr Water
  • One Funnel
Frozen or Bottled Cranberry Juice can be Used for an easy to make cranberry wine

Frozen or Bottled Cranberry Juice can be Used for an easy to make cranberry wine

Instructions

  1. Clean and sterilize the glass jug by washing it, by hand, with warm, soapy water and then rinsing it thoroughly as you don't want your wine to leave a soapy taste in your drinker's mouths.
  2. While the simple, but thorough, washing above should be sufficient as an extra precaution you can run the jug and other utensils (other than the plastic tubing) used make the wine through the dishwasher where the heat will sterilize them.
  3. It is very important to make sure that the jug and all utensils used in the making of the wine are sterile so as to prevent bacteria from contaminating and spoiling your wine. Running them through the dishwasher will help accomplish this.
  4. If using frozen cranberry juice concentrate, thaw and mix with water per directions on the can in a clean container that has recently been washed in dishwasher. You can use either tap water to mix the juice or distilled water (if you use distilled water you will avoid picking up any taste that the tap water might contain).
  5. Dissolve a tablespoon of sugar and the yeast in the ¾ cup of warm water.
  6. Add sugar to the juice and stir until thoroughly dissolved.
  7. If you use regular bottled cranberry juice, rather than concentrate, pour juice into a clean container, add the sugar and stir until the sugar is thoroughly dissolved.
  8. Dissolve a tablespoon of sugar and the yeast in the ¾ cup of warm water.
  9. Cover the container with the warm water and sugar mixture to prevent any airborne bacteria from contaminating the mixture and set the container aside for a couple of hours to allow the fermentation process to get started.
  10. Pour juice, with sugar dissolved in it, into jug using funnel to avoid spilling.
  11. Add the warm water and yeast mixture to the juice in the jug.
  12. Insert rubber stopper into top of jug.
  13. Attach plastic tubing securely over end of glass tube.
  14. Place jug on a shelf in a warm (about 70 degrees Fahrenheit or 21.1 degrees Celsius) shelf in basement.
  15. Place container of water next to jug and place end of plastic tube in water. Make sure water level remains sufficient to keep end of tube under water.
  16. The tube will allow carbon dioxide gas, a by product of the fermentation process, to escape into the water which will prevent air contaminated with bacteria from entering the jug with the wine.

Final Bottling and Aging

  • After about a month, you will notice that air bubbles are no longer entering the container of water from the wine jug and the juice becoming clear. There will be sediment on the bottom of the jug.
  • At this point, get a two or three foot (approx .5 to 1 meter) length of ½ to ¾ inch (approx 1.25 to 2 cm) clear plastic tubing.
  • Remove the stopper and siphon juice into a second sterilized jug. Be careful not to disturb or transfer the sediment.
  • The sediment can be poured down the drain while the jug with the wine should be securely capped with a screw-on cap or cork stopper.
  • Store in a cool place, a basement with a fairly constant temperature of about 70 degrees Fahrenheit or 21 degrees Celsius.
  • Six to twelve months of storage will be needed while your wine ages.

Serving and Enjoying

  • Allow at least six months for your wine to age. Ideally, your wine should be sufficiently aged and ready to drink within twelve months maximum.
  • So long as the wine has been capped tightly and not exposed to outside air, it should be good for at least two to three years.
  • While the quality of the wine will improve with age up to about 12 months, it will be at its peak and won't continue to improve after about 12 months. If stored more than two or three years it might spoil (however, I have never kept it this long so I am speculating at this point).
  • The wine can be chilled in a refrigerator before serving (and must be refrigerated after opening to prevent spoiling).
  • For me, this process has always resulted in a nice clear, but slightly tart wine with the taste of cranberry.
  • If you prefer a sweeter wine, you can add sugar to taste after opening.

Homemade Cranberry Wine Recipe Rating

Bunches of Grapes on the vine

Bunches of Grapes on the vine

Questions & Answers

Question: Can segments of three medium oranges be added to the cranberry apple wine?

Answer: I don't see any reason why you couldn't add 3 medium oranges to the cranberry apple wine. It would affect the flavor of the wine which could be a good thing. My suggestion is that you try this with a small batch. If you like the resulting wine then keep doing it. If you don't like the result then leave the oranges out of future batches. If you do like the result but want to adjust the amount of orange taste then experiment by adding more or less orange to them and when finished experimenting adjust the number of oranges to the amount used in the batch you liked best.

© 2006 Chuck Nugent

Comments

Chuck Nugent (author) from Tucson, Arizona on November 18, 2017:

chrisgg - thanks for the suggestions.

Chuck

chrisgg on November 07, 2017:

Thanks for your interesting article on cranberry wine. Frozen fresh cranberries are available in my local supermarket in 500g (1.1 lb) quantities. When not picked straight from the bush, I think these are the next best source for homemade wine. I use 1.5kg (3.3lb) for 1 imperial gallon of wine (160 oz = 8 imperial pints or 10 US pints), add 1Kg (2.2lb) sugar and leave overnight to thaw in a fermentation bin. Then add 160oz tap water and mix well the next day so that all the sugar is dissolved. I check the specific gravity (SG) with a hydrometer. I like my wine to be about 12% alcohol which corresponds to about 1.080 SG. If the SG is below 1.080 I add more sugar or if it's above 1.080 I add more water until it is about correct. For freshly picked fruit I prefer the natural wild yeasts to ferment the sugars so I never add sulphites like Camden tablets to kill off the wild yeasts. For shop-bought frozen fruit I may need to add some wild yeast culture I have saved from other wine fermentations, if necessary. I put an air tight lid on the fermentation bin and insert an air lock into a hole in the lid and leave the wine to ferment out completely to dryness for as long as necessary, maybe several weeks. All the whole fruit is present in the fermentation bin to draw out as much colour and flavour as possible. After fermentation is complete (I prefer completely dry wines) I syphon off into a 160oz demijohn (with air lock fitted) and leave to clear and mature in my cool pantry. I check the SG again and calculate the % alcohol present in the wine using the formula: 1.080 (original SG) minus e.g. 0.992 (final SG)= 0.088, divided by 7.36(constant) x 1000 = 11.9%. When I am ready to drink the wine I syphon it from the demijohn into swing-top bottles. No racking is needed in my experience as fermentation is almost complete before syphoning into the demijohn. Because I have a lot of wine demijohns on the go (about 20), it's usually about 2 years before I get round to drinking any particular wine but it could be drunk after a few months if cleared properly. I hope this might be helpful information.

Linda on September 09, 2017:

Very interesting and thanks for sharing!

Chuck Nugent (author) from Tucson, Arizona on March 16, 2017:

I have never tried to determine the alcohol content of the wine I have made but it is probably a little less than 11%. Most wines have an alcohol content that averages between 11% and 15%. Since I usually use frozen cranberry juice that does not have as much added sugar as bottled cranberry juice and only used a limited amount of added sugar the cranberry wine in the recipe above is probably around 11% or less. The alcohol is produced by the action of the yeast on the sugar in the mixture so adding more sugar is the main way to increase the alcohol content. However, there is a limit to the amount of increase in alcohol since yeast is a living organism and when the percentage of alcohol passes a certain point the alcohol begins to kill the yeast (remember that alcohol is a disinfectant - the hand sanitizers that we buy and use are mostly alcohol) which stops further fermentation (fermentation stops when all the sugar is fermented or the amount of alcohol produced reaches the point where it kills the yeast - whichever comes first).

Laina on March 15, 2017:

I'm wondering what the alcohol % is?

Chuck Nugent (author) from Tucson, Arizona on October 14, 2013:

jackie frost - I did some quick research and it appears that stevia cannot be used for fermentation. So the shot answer is that no, stevia cannot be used as a sugar substitute in making cranberry wine. It can, however, be added after fermentation to make the wine sweeter tasting.

jackie frost on October 14, 2013:

can i use stevia(sugar) instead of regular sugar in making cranberry wine

shin_rocka04 from Maryland on January 15, 2013:

Great hub. I think I'll definitely have to experiment and make my own wine with a great infusion.

louromano on March 20, 2012:

I personally like to use fresh fruit when Im making my wine.Thanks .

cbpoet from Las Vegas, Nevada on January 14, 2012:

This is something I've always wanted to do - make wine. I'm looking forward to trying out your recipe.. Thanks for sharing

revortay1 from PA on December 20, 2011:

Great Hub! Voted up and useful :]

Benson Hedges from New Delhi, India on December 06, 2011:

thanks for sharing a useful article

Aceblogs from India on October 19, 2011:

Wow, but how about drinking it than making it .. lol. drinking is always much fun than making it , but yes thanks for the share and i will put it to test when i get along with my friends. Bookmarked !

Bert on June 29, 2011:

My first try at a cab was a disaster (I think I ended up with some cleaning solution/acid in my batch). Since that first attempt, I have found that it is both a science, and an art! My second batch was a success, and a good one if I don't say so myself. I did find a website that helped a ton though (broke down and paid, but well worth it) at www.how-to-make-wine.com I am sure there are others too. Cheers!

marystobias from Napa,Sanoma on June 22, 2011:

Very Nice Hubs

Web World Watcher on June 17, 2011:

Oh this i just awesome. If i had the means and resources to try this out I definitely would. homemade alcohol is a luxury I am looking forward to in the future

marystobias from Napa,Sanoma on June 17, 2011:

very simple and easy tips make a wine.....

Greg Sage from Orlando, Florida on June 15, 2011:

MMM... I think I'll try it, but with watermellon.

danutzvd from Romania on March 01, 2011:

my uncle makes wine every year....almost 2000 liters....verry verry good....red wine

funky23 from Deutschland on February 24, 2011:

i absolutely agree

Wine Cooler on January 20, 2011:

Wow, another really cool article Chuck. Once again thanks for such an informative article.

seebasic from Germany on December 21, 2010:

I did not know much about how to make vine. But I knew all about how to get drunk. By now I know more about both. :)

Thank you for sharing.

iamageniuster on December 18, 2010:

Thanks for sharing. I will put this to the test.

ran on November 19, 2010:

Very nice tutorial. I like it.

websclubs on November 07, 2010:

Hi Chuck,

Make Wine At Home great idea.

simple recipe and process for making cranberry wine...

Amazing article writing Thanks!

https://hubpages.com/@websclubs

Zonk on October 27, 2010:

This is almost grammar school when living in a wine growing region!

law firm websites on October 15, 2010:

Wow great hub on how to make wine! amazing article and quality of writing!

alishaneuron from Colorado (U.S) on October 07, 2010:

Thanks so much for this wonderful post this is the kind of thing that keeps me on track throughout my day.

MakingWineEasy on October 05, 2010:

Great hub! Thanks for sharing!

shoppingqueen on September 14, 2010:

Great instructions!

toddlerboyclothes on August 16, 2010:

Hello! What a great Hub It is interesting.

Thank for sharing and for the tips.

Keep it up. =)

RoseGardenAdvice from San Francisco on August 14, 2010:

Have always wanted to try making wine at home but never quite got around to it. Your hub makes it look very easy :) let's see, maybe this time around I will put it together! Nice hub.

lender3212000 from Beverly Hills, CA on July 19, 2010:

I've experimented with this a little and have always enjoyed it. I can't seem to get one that I really like though, might be time to learn from someone with a little more experience. I can see how this could easily become a fun hobby!

sjames4444 on July 19, 2010:

Great Hub. Making wine is truly a labor of love for many.

rt-cal from Australia on July 13, 2010:

Great hub! If only I could wait the 6 to 12 months required. Wine doesn't sit on the shelf that long in our household.

Tony from At the Gemba on July 13, 2010:

The perfect recipe for out here in Saudi Arabia....

make homemade wine on July 09, 2010:

I personally like to use fresh fruit when Im making my wine.

Do you have any tips about the best way to go about this?

jdrmar on March 27, 2010:

Wow, I didn't even know that this was possible. Thanks for sharing!

Priscilla Chan from Normal, Illinois on March 14, 2010:

Very interesting! I remember growing up, my mom used to make rice wine. Thank you for sharing!

Rose Barrett on February 23, 2010:

Wine making at home seems like it is a real science. I would think that after putting in all the effort needed to make a good bottle, nothing would be more pleasing to share it with others as a gift. Nice hub.

TheCreditTruth from Pittsburg, PA on February 02, 2010:

Making wine always sounds so simple.. I will give it a try but I am betting it gets way more complicated once you get started.

myawn from Florida on January 20, 2010:

Cool wine making article A lot of great info

Shirley on December 04, 2009:

Hi Chuck

Have you or anybody out there got a recipe for white cabbage wine?

Granny's House from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time on December 02, 2009:

Hi Chuck, I have beem making my own wine for a while. I love doing it. When you have thefinished product and know you did that,it is a good feeling. You are right, you do need to let the wine age. Sooo many can't wait. It does make a diff. Cool page Chuck. can't wait to read more of your hubs. Ps. I am a newbie. Glad i stumbled on to your page

itcoll on November 28, 2009:

this is very interesting.I will try it out with my friends some day.

perfumelover on October 22, 2009:

These are great instructions! I'd love to try this sometime. :)

Sara Zed from Gilbert, Arizona on October 14, 2009:

It sounds interesting, but I think I'll just stick with buying my wine at Trader Joe's. Not too expensive, but still better than what I would end up making. For those of you who can make it yourself and do a good job, more power to you!

quijonido on October 04, 2009:

Oh this is so interesting. I'm making my own apple wine right now :)

LVM on August 29, 2009:

I sure gonna try this one out.

Chuck Nugent (author) from Tucson, Arizona on May 26, 2009:

Roberto Galea - I don't know what caused the smell as I have never tried to use apples to make wine. I suggest you try to find a recipe for hard cider and try that.

Chuck

Roberto Galea on May 26, 2009:

Hi, I have tried to make wine the way it is described in this site, but instead I used apples, and the product had an Acetaldehyde smell. What can I do? and what is the problem? Thanks Roberto. :)

Blue Lotus Wine O on May 12, 2009:

With the price of wine being so cheap these days, I've taken my eye off the ball and stop making it. This has motivated me to continue.

Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on April 05, 2009:

I used to have an old wine making book, published in the UK, that had recipes for making wine out of almost every fruit and vegetable imaginable-- including turnips and 'coltsfoot'. I once made a batch of peach wine, which --though cloudy-- tasted wonderful. It was even a bit fizzy or sparkly, perhaps due to my inexact following of the directions.

Chuck Nugent (author) from Tucson, Arizona on April 05, 2009:

Juliet Christie - thanks for visiting and for sharing the link to your article with some excellent information (I checked it out and I recommend it).

Juliet Christie Murray from Sandy Bay Jamaica on April 05, 2009:

Hi your wine recipe seem cool. I too have made chocho  sparkling white  wine I have also a great article on wine making ,some questions asked here by your readers can be answered in that article http://www.specular-jamaica.com/wine-making.html

Chuck Nugent (author) from Tucson, Arizona on April 03, 2009:

Janet - thank you for visiting my Hub. When I have made the cranberry wine, using cranberry juice, described in this article or grape wine using frozen grape juice I have always used wine yeast purchased from a wine making shop. I was told by others when i started making wine that I shouldn't use bread yeast but was never told why. I tried doing some research just now to answer your question but couldn't find any clear answer.

Both wine yeast and bread yeast are living organisms and it is possible that some varieties are better for making wine than others and have been bred for that pupose and both convert sugar to alcohol and give off carbon dixoide in the process. There may be some effect on the taste of the wine but I think that you can successfully make wine using bread yeast.

One more point, when making wine using fresh grapes you don't need to add yeast as yeast is found naturally on the grape skins.

janet on April 03, 2009:

Hello great page!.what is the difference between yeast nutrient and wine yeast can you use one or the other?..need help thanks

Chuck Nugent (author) from Tucson, Arizona on March 21, 2009:

SEO Expert Kerala - yes, making wine at home for personal consumption is legal in most areas of the U.S. The repeal of Prohibition in the 1930s did allow states and areas within states the option of passing their own laws regulating the production, distribution, sale and consumption of alcohol so there may be some counties or other areas within a few states where this is illegal but, for the most part it is legal for people to make their own beer and wine. Distilled spirits (whisky, brandy, vodka, etc) are another matter and I believe that it is illegal to make these products without a license.

SEO Expert Kerala from KERALA on March 21, 2009:

Making wines at home is legal in USA ?Read my blog about indian wines

https://hubpages.com/hub/Sauvignon-Blanc-and-Chard...

Chuck Nugent (author) from Tucson, Arizona on November 11, 2008:

RACM, thanks for visiting my Hub and for your comment. As to advice on avoiding headaches, my suggestion is moderation. Bottoms up!

RACM on November 11, 2008:

This Hub just became my favorite Hub. I am not a heavy drinker, actually I drink on rare occations. And does occations are when they bring me a good bottle of wine (for free) so as you can see, I dont drink that much. I do have a request for you. How can I avoid getting the bad headache without sacrificing the enjoyment of drinking my wine?

DarleneMarie from USA on November 02, 2008:

Very nice Hub... great information. I did not realize that wine making was so easy.

Chuck Nugent (author) from Tucson, Arizona on September 09, 2008:

Oops!  My mistake and I made the same mistake in two sentences in that paragraph.  But both have now been corrected.

Phil,  thanks for catching this.

Chuck

Phil on September 09, 2008:

In the next to last paragraph, you wrote "the 'sentiment' can be poured down the drain". I believe you meant to write "sediment"?

Was this a Freudian Slip?

DeniseClarke from Florida on August 30, 2008:

Cool information on winemaking ... I think I will give it a try!

Denise

https://hubpages.com/food/winefoodpairing

jeff on August 16, 2008:

use less sugar if turns out todry 1/2 to1 cup of sugar to 2 cups water boil for 1 min let cool add 2 wine let set for 5 to 7 days then try it i cut back on the sugar when mixing togather then when its time to taste if its not sweet enough that's what i do works well

Chuck Nugent (author) from Tucson, Arizona on April 09, 2008:

Agreed - you can use any juice, not just cranberry juice. Since pineapple juice is usually sweeter you may want to reduce the amount of sugar you add but you will need some sugar and may want to experiment some to get the right level of sweetness. As to blending, that sounds interesting and can either be done at the beginning and let them ferment together or blend them after fermentation. Again, you may have to experiment until you get the desired taste.

Ryan OConnell from California on April 09, 2008:

You can ferment anything with sugar in it. So ya, go for it! Pina-Wine-ada

how2start from Orange County, CA on April 09, 2008:

This is really cool to learn that you can make wine from cranberry juice.  I'm now wondering if you can do the same thing with pineapple juice.  Hawaii has a pineapple wine that they are famous for.  Do you think you can substitute the cranberry for pineapple juice to make wine out of that instead?

It'll also be pretty cool if you can blend the two wines (pineapple + cranberry) to make something like a BayBreeze wine cocktail. It's a great tasting & popular cocktail.

Regardless, cool hub!  Thanks!

Ryan OConnell from California on March 13, 2008:

I like the idea of cran-wine.

Here are some more resources for grape based wine.

http://mroconnell.googlepages.com/#grocery

alex on February 19, 2008:

oh that great.... but can be also a calamansi can a wine?

Joanie Ruppel from Texas on February 19, 2008:

I've always been afraid to try making wine because my father used to make it and it was terrible. You've inspired me to give it a try again sometime.

eburrelljoe from university on December 19, 2007:

hi hi i like you

you are kool i like you pictures i am

65 y old my name is william j isabell

do you u druts i do not

lottery shareing i have a tv yes a pc to i like meor 98 upgade to millennium

i like it ok i have a dog name do do do it

you are kool

Chuck Nugent (author) from Tucson, Arizona on December 18, 2007:

TexasLady - I don't see why you can't simply boil them. The idea is to prevent bacteria from getting into the mixture and spoiling the wine. Good luck with your winemaking.

Chuck

TexasLady from Texas on December 18, 2007:

Could one just boil the needed utensils? The only dishwasher we have is ME, and I'm anything but sterile, with four kids.

If I can do this, let me know please! I'm a professional wino from way back. :D

Chuck Nugent (author) from Tucson, Arizona on October 17, 2007:

Robert - Thank you for visiting my HubPages and for your comment. If you want to make wine from a frozen juice concentrate click on this link https://hubpages.com/food/A_Prohibition_Era_Wine_R... to go to my HubPage entitled "A Prohibition Era Wine Recipe". This will give you step-by-step directions including how much water, sugar and yeast to add. Good luck. Chuck

ROBERT on October 17, 2007:

Hi i was wondering im making 5 gallons of wine ive dun this before but forgot i used concentrated juice i want to know can i use just 100% juice in a jug. I also wanted to know can i still add sugar and if i did how much i really dont know and do i still add water or just all juice and also how much yeast should i use if u could help me i would appreciate this thank u

Matthew Cepican on August 28, 2007:

Interesting. -Matthew Cepican A&R Vesuvius Records

Andrew Stylus on August 28, 2007:

Ahh yes, the fine art of making wine. It really is a rewarding feeling to take that first sip of wine you created

Tom on July 19, 2007:

Maybe you put too much sugar in it in the first place. Don't put ANY sugar.

AskSusanPeters from Oklahoma on December 16, 2006:

I made a batch of wine (7 gallons).  The darn stuff has quit working and is too sweet.  Can I just add a bit more yeast and wait for the sugar to go away? Sweet, like some kid needing a sugar fix from 8 cups of sugar in Kool Aid.