How to Make Wine From Grape Juice - Delishably - Food and Drink
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How to Make Wine From Grape Juice

A scientist turned engineer, Dave started making wine in 1970. His approach combines simplicity with sound scientific principles.

Learn how you can make wine from supermarket juice.

Learn how you can make wine from supermarket juice.

Welcome to the Home Winery

In this article, I'm going to walk you through a safe and reliable method of making fresh, wholesome wine from supermarket grape juice. The recipe provided uses no special equipment, chemicals, or artificial additives.

Why Bother Making Your Own Wine?

I live in an Islamic country where wine is not a supermarket commodity. But in most countries, wine is a supermarket commodity, in which case, why make your own? You will have your own reasons for making wine from grape juice, but here are a few of mine:

  • It's a fun time, feels creative and fills the kitchen with summery smells.
  • It's very cheap, wholesome and surprisingly good.

Ingredients

The good news is, you will hardly need any equipment at all.

You will need:

  • One 5-litre (or 1-gallon) plastic drinking water container (not five separate bottles)
  • One plastic pouring funnel
  • Four 1-litre (2-pint) cartons of red or white grape juice with no preservatives
  • 500 grams (18 ounces) of ordinary, granulated white sugar
  • One sachet of general-purpose wine yeast

Can You Use Any Kind of Yeast to Make Wine?

No. It is very important that you do not use any other kind of yeast to make your wine. Baking yeast will ferment, however, it is likely to stop too soon, leaving you with an oversweet, understrength concoction (often with a bready smell). Much the same is true of brewer's yeast, except the product will smell like beer. What a surprise!

If you are lucky enough to have a winemaker's supplier nearby, that's where to find your wine yeast. Don't be intimidated by the expert salesperson—one sachet of general-purpose wine yeast is all you need. If they offer you Campden tablets, vitamin B6, a hydrometer, a thermometer, a fermentation trap and a snake of plastic tubing, just smile sweetly and say 'no'.

If you have no local winemaker's supplier, there are plenty of online resources available listed under 'winemaking supplies'. As for me, I get my wine yeast and other supplies directly from Amazon.

Preparation

Your grape juice should be kept at room temperature, not in the fridge. If you have placed your grape juice in the fridge, make sure to take it out and let it get back to room temperature before continuing with the wine-making process.

Drink or dispose of the 5 litres of water. Most people prefer to do this over a few days. When the bottle is empty, there is no reason to rinse it out. It's clean because it was full of drinking water, remember?

Wine made from grape juice with no preservatives is both tasty and healthy.

Wine made from grape juice with no preservatives is both tasty and healthy.

Day 1: Warm the Juice and Add the Yeast

Pour about half of your first carton of grape juice into the empty 5-litre bottle.

Add one teaspoonful of wine yeast, put the top on the bottle and shake it to buggery. (This is the correct technical term for this process as used by winemakers around the world, though a small handful still refer to it as aeration.)

Leave the 5-litre bottle in a warmish place and take the rest of the day off. (Yeast is a living organism. Its comfort zone is much like ours. Think short-sleeve temperature. You don't need to keep it in the dark, but direct sunlight will spoil it.)

Day 2: Prepare the Sugar Syrup

You'll notice the 5-litre bottle will have started bubbling. Add the other half carton of the first juice as well as one other full carton, so the 5-litre bottle is now a little under half full. Tighten the bottle cap then back it off half a turn. This is very important. Fermentation produces a lot of carbon dioxide gas which must be allowed to escape.

Take a 2-litre coke bottle and do whatever you want with the contents. I'm told it goes well with a Big Mac, whatever that is. We need it empty, that's all.

Pour 500 grams (18 ounces) of sugar into the empty coke bottle. A plastic funnel makes this a lot easier. Pour boiled tap water or drinking water onto the sugar until the bottle is about half full (1 litre or 2 pints). Shake it until all the sugar is dissolved. Don't add it to the wine yet.

Day 4-5: Combine All Components

By now, the wine should be fermenting well. Add one more carton of grape juice and all of the sugar syrup to the 5-litre bottle. The amount of liquid should still be below the shoulder of the bottle. Swirl the bottle to mix in the sugar syrup. Tighten the bottle cap then back it off half a turn, as before. That's it for today. You should still have one unopened carton of grape juice.

Coming along nicely

Coming along nicely

Day 10 or So: Monitor Your Wine

By day 10 or so, the liveliest fermentation should have eased off, so it's safe to add the last carton of juice. The 5-litre bottle should be filled to the bottom of the neck. Do the same drill as mentioned before with the bottle cap. Now, you just have to wait. Check the bottle cap every day, and watch for bubbling, showing signs of completion. It typically takes another two or three weeks for the wine to be complete.

Final Days: Chill the Wine, Bottle and Enjoy!

When the bubbling in your 5-litre bottle has stopped (or at least slowed to the occasional bubble), place the bottle in the fridge (not the freezer!) and leave it for about three days. The cold temperature will halt the fermentation and help the yeast settle to the bottom of the bottle.

After three days have passed, line up enough empty bottles to hold the wine. Very, very carefully, so as not to disturb the sediment, pour the wine into the empty bottles using the funnel. It helps to have someone else hold the bottles while moving the funnel from bottle to bottle. Fill all the bottles in a single pass, without tipping the fermenting bottle. This way, you won't disturb the sediment.

The wine can be drunk straight away, but it will improve in the bottle for several months. It's best not to consider 'laying it down' or any such nonsense. It's not that sort of wine.

Cheers! You're now a winemaker.

My house red, reflecting

My house red, reflecting

Will It Be Any Good?

I'll be honest, your homemade wine may taste like a decent vin ordinaire, which is expected and acceptable. It will be on par with the staple drink of millions of everyday folk throughout Europe—because that's what we're making—everyday wine.

It is, of course, possible to make truly fine wine. But to do this, you will need to follow a slightly more involved procedure:

  • Buy a hillside with an ideal aspect, as well as good soil and climate.
  • Terrace the hillside and plant your vines.
  • Protect the vines from frosts, hailstorms, insects and neighbors.
  • Oh, and start about thirty years ago!

Of course, the above is not our goal for this article. Making wine from grape juice is a much simpler and less time-consuming solution to making a steady supply of wine.

Comments Are Welcome

Before asking a question, why not read through the comments below? I have already answered many questions, so you may find your answer is already there!

If you do try making wine by this method and run into any problem, describe it in a comment and I'll do my best to help, or at least explain what's gone wrong.

If you have a go and it works out well (which is most likely), share your success to encourage others to join the winemaking community.

I'm also happy to answer queries about home winemaking. Although my starter method is simple, it is based on sound principles. Advanced winemaking involves more equipment and processes. If the interest is there, I'll base a few more articles on the finer points.

Questions & Answers

Question: I am very keen to use your wine recipe making wine from grape juice. I live in South Africa where we are currently under lockdown and the sale of alcohol has been banned for some strange reason. I, therefore, cannot buy wine yeast and will have to make do with normal baking or all-purpose yeast. What can I do to make the wine palatable if using ordinary yeast?

Answer: Even using baker's yeast, the finished wine should not be unpalatable, especially if you pour it off the sediment into a fresh container and rest it for a few weeks before drinking. Alternatively, you can harvest live yeast from fresh muscat grapes: Crush five or six perfectly ripe grapes in a small glass bowl. Pour in enough grape juice to cover the grapes and cover the bowl with a saucer. Leave in a warmish place overnight. Next day, follow my method exactly but adding the contents of the small bowl in place of the dried yeast. Note- this is not guaranteed to work every time and there is a small risk of spoilage, but it can give excellent results, much better than baker's yeast ever will.

Question: I am in South Africa so am in lockdown. I am on day 4 and realized that the last one and a half liters of grape juice has preservatives, the first was okay. What happens now that I've started making wine from grape juice with preservatives?

Answer: You might be lucky. If the fermentation is strong, it might continue in spite of the preservatives. But if it sticks (stops bubbling) which I think is likely, there is nothing you can do to restart it. It will be drinkable, but weak and too sweet. All you can do is start again and read the labels more carefully! Put it down to experience.

Question: Do you know what the alcohol content was of your wine made of grape juice?

Answer: This wine will lie in the range 11% to 13% if fermented to dryness as recommended. The exact figure depends on the grape juice and to a lesser extent on the yeast variety. I explain this topic fully in this article: How to Control the Strength of Homemade Beer, Wine and Cider.

Question: If you have fermentation do you need to add the sugar? Would you get a less sweet, less alcoholic wine by adding a further liter of grape juice instead?

Answer: If you don't add the sugar you will end up with a wine of around 6% to 7% ABV. This is OK, but it will not keep well and will not mature like a balanced wine. The sugar (as per my method) is all fermented to dryness so does not make the wine sweet. It results in a balanced wine in the range 12% to 13%.

Question: What brand of grape juice that I can get in Saudi Arabia would you recommend?

Answer: My first choice is KDD juice. It's from Kuwait, but it's available in most GCC countries. Rauch is also a very good but more expensive brand. Almarai and Safa are also good. Remember to always read the label for "no preservatives."

Question: I made some white grape wine. I thought it was finished until I poured it into a glass and it foamed up like beer poured from a can. Why would my grape juice wine foam?

Answer: If you sealed the container too soon a pressure of dissolved CO₂ can build up. Also, at the end of fermentation, the new wine is saturated with dissolved CO₂. You can get rid of most of this by decanting the new wine off its sediment into a new vessel for storage. (The bubbles are harmless, by the way).

Question: When making wine from grape juice, does the sediment have to be thrown after the process or can it be reused in another batch?

Answer: You can start a new batch using as little as one teaspoonful of the sediment instead of new yeast. If you want to keep sediment for this purpose, transfer it to a small screw-top bottle and store it in the fridge.

Question: Can Muscadine grapes be used to make wine?

Answer: Yes, gather the grapes when they are as ripe as possible, for best sugar content and lowest acidity and prepare an active yeast starter in advance to ensure a quick start to the fermentation.

Question: I am making my first homemade grape juice wine. I added all of the juice and sugar water at the start, and then added my yeast, that was 4 days ago and so far so good. What would be the best way would be to go about making this a "sparkling" wine? If you could inform me of the best way to make my wine "sparkling" that would be GREAT, if you could also tell me how to make my cider sparkling, that would be even better.

Answer: Let the fermentation finish naturally (no more bubbles rising). Place it in the refrigerator for about two days to start the clearing process. When it is no longer cloudy but still hazy, carefully pour it into 1-litre plastic lemonade bottles. Drop one sugar cube into each bottle, cap tightly and leave in a warmish place for a week. This will cause the yeast in the haze to act on the sugar, producing CO₂. Then store in a cool, dark place for at least a month. Best served chilled. Do not use glass bottles or lightweight water bottles. This method depends on judging the end point well. For repeatable results, you should use a hydrometer, but I'm not explaining that in a comment.

Question: Did you know this tip? Instead of a bottle cap, get a heavy balloon and pierce a needle hole in the top. The balloon will inflate, and you know it is done when the balloon is totally deflated.

Answer: It's a very old technique but not a good one. There is always drip-back from the inside of the balloon into the fermenting wine. Sometimes this gives off-flavours in the finished wine.

Question: How would I make a dryer wine?

Answer: When you think fermentation has finished, put it in a warmish place with the cap nearly closed and do nothing for another week to ten days before putting it in the fridge. This gives the yeast time to use up the last of the remaining sugar.

Question: I have a 12-liter water bottle, would it be ok to double the amount of wine brewing ingredients and increase the time?

Answer: Double all the quantities but don't change the times. It still takes the same time, for any quantity.

Question: Can you use another juice such as apple juice to make wine?

Answer: Yes, you can. But you will need to increase the sugar addition from 500g up to a maximum of 750g. To keep a wine-like quality, it is best to use grape juice for at least half of the total quantity.

Question: Can you use a 5 gallon bottle with the ingredients of a 1 gallon bottle? Will the empty space do any harm to the wine?

Answer: This would greatly increase the risk of oxidation towards the end of the fermentation. It would also be more difficult to separate the wine from the sediment. So, no, it is not a good idea.

Question: While making wine from grape juice, why did my brew stop bubbling after the last carton went in?

Answer: Usually it restarts after a day or two. The new juice dissolves the CO2 until saturated, then bubbles start to form again.

Question: Instead of tightening bottle caps, I used an airlock, but being so amateur, I let the water inside the airlock leak down inside the wine. Do you think it will result in bacteria growth and toxic wine?

Answer: It is unlikely to have caused spoilage if the wine was fermenting (bubbling) when it happened. However, nowadays, with 5 litre screw-top plastic drinking water bottles so freely available, using an airlock is an unnecessary complication.

Question: If I back off my bottle lids when making wine from grape juice, too far will I contaminate my must?

Answer: As long as the must is actively fermenting no contaminants can enter a loose cap against the steady flow of carbon dioxide. Towards the end of fermentation, when the CO2 flow is very slow, you can close the cap fully, backing it off once a day to release any pressure build-up.

Question: Are you at all nervous about making wine in an Islamic country?

Answer: Good question. There are three things I would never do: 1) I would never sell or in any way trade my home-made wine and cider. 2) I would never allow any of it to be taken out of my apartment. Both of these would be viewed as serious infringements. And 3) I would never discuss my wine-making in public places where you never know who is listening. By the way, I don't make beer because brewing smells can be quite strong, and smells are hard to contain!

Question: Can I use freshly juiced grapes to make wine?

Answer: Yes you can. If the grapes are ripe and sweet, follow the procedure exactly. If they are less sweet, increase the sugar addition to a maximum of 750 grams.

Question: As a first timer of making my own wine from grape juice do you have any suggestions?

Answer: My suggestion is, follow the directions in the article! It is written for first timers-with no previous experience of wine-making.

Question: My wine never really stops fermenting. How can I prevent it from happening? I leave it a full three days in the refrigerator. I have also tried four days. Yet whenever I open a bottle of wine that has matured for 60 days I hear the carbonation when I open the lid, and I notice the sediment in the bottom of the bottle. How can make sure I STOP the fermentation?

Answer: There are two things you can do: 1) give the wine longer to finish before putting it in the refrigerator. Try another week. Fermentation time depends on temperature. The cooler it is, the longer it takes. 2) You can add a crushed Camden tablet at the end of fermentation, before setting it aside to mature. This is safe, but some people prefer not to use any additives, in which case, more time is the answer.

Question: You mentioned one teaspoon of yeast instead of adding an entire standard 5-gram pack. What do you suggest might happen if there is a slight overdose of wine yeast by 20-30%?

Answer: It will not make much difference. The fermentation might start more quickly, but the yeast grows until it reaches an equilibrium state which does not depend on the initial amount.

Question: The wine I made last month was fine and I’m leaving it to improve for a couple of months. However, this time I followed the same procedure but it didn’t bubble after adding the same yeast. I’ve just added sugar syrup and hopefully, it may bubble soon. If not, what remedial action should I take?

Answer: If you are sure the juice contained no preservatives, there are a few possibilities: the juice was too warm when the yeast was added, or, the yeast had become damp or too warm in storage. To save the wine, make a new yeast starter with fresh yeast and a little juice and add it only when it is active. When fermentation restarts, proceed as per the method.

Question: For my 12-liter plastic bottle, I’ll need 3 times the amount of ingredients but is it best to do just under 12 liters to allow a gap for fermentation or just not add the total amount (1500g) of sugar? Also how much sediment/residue will be left that will be undrinkable?

Answer: My original article is for 5 litres, not 4. If you want to make 12 litres, multiply all the quantities by 12/5 = 2.4.

Question: I know this recipe is for 5 litres of wine, but if I add an extra 1 litre of juice will it change the outcome any? I just want to fill my 6 litre bottle as much as poss.

Answer: OK, for 5 litres, the sugar addition was 500 grams, so, for 6 litres might it not be 500 /5 x6 = 600 grams (!) If you don't increase the sugar addition, the alcoholic strength (ABV) will be lower.

Question: Like many South Africans missing their glass of vino, I tried to make my own but the mixture is cloudy with quite a few bubbles. I made it on 1 May. What has gone wrong?

Answer: Today is 8 May. That is only one week. The wine should still be fermenting (bubbling) and cloudy so nothing has gone wrong. Look again at the timescale in the article. Patience, patience. . .

Question: I put my sugar solution in too soon and don't know if my wine is fermenting. All the juice is in there, there is fizzing but no frothy head. What would you recommend apart from learning to follow instructions better?

Answer: If it is fizzing, it is fermenting. Just let it run its course and when all visible activity stops, refrigerate it. No harm done.

Question: What is the difference in taste between white and red grape concentrate?

Answer: Red usually has a richer flavour with a hint of bitterness from the grape-skin tannin.

Question: When making wine from grape juice, on day one should you keep the lid of the bottle full open or halfway?

Answer: On day one it is safe to keep the bottle fully closed. It takes a little time for the yeast to start and there is plenty space in the 5-litre bottle to accommodate the amount of CO₂ that will be produced.

Question: What do you recommend for bottling, caps etc?

Answer: For serious maturing of good wine, the best is still green or brown glass wine bottles, good quality corks, and a shrink-fit capsule. But for 'vin ordinaire' for everyday drinking, clear plastic coke bottles with screw caps are fine. Store them in a dark place as sunlight will spoil any wine.

Question: How can I remove the smell of yeast from the finished wine?

Answer: If you have used baking yeast there will always be a noticeable sharp smell. If you have used a proper wine yeast and given the wine time to clear properly, there should not be a dominant yeast aroma. Letting it rest for a few months before drinking greatly improves the taste and aroma of any wine.

Question: What brand of dark or light grape juice in the United States do you recommend for making wine?

Answer: I don't know what is available in the States, but most grape juices will be fine. Always check the label: there should be no preservatives or antioxidants as these will prevent fermentation from starting. Most juices are made from concentrates. This is OK, but the best quality juices are simply pressed, filtered and pasteurised without concentrating them. These are more expensive but will give a better result.

Question: I’m a Saudi living in Saudi and I have begun to make wine with RED STAR Premier Classique instead of your suggested yeast. In the first stage when I mixed the yeast with the half liter carton and locked it with the lid tight, I noticed the bottle is full of gas and about to explode so I had to release the pressure a little bit. Is this normal?!

Answer: I have not used Red Star myself but it has a good reputation. It is also a fast starter. In Saudi, ambient temperatures are high which also accelerates fermentation. Your wine started quickly, which is good, and you were right to release the pressure. For the rest of the fermentation, the bottle cap should be loose enough to let the gases escape, as explained in the method.

Question: How would you use a 5-gallon container? Unfortunately, where I live these are the only ones available.

Answer: The best way to use a 5-gallon fermenting vessel is to multiply all the quantities by 5 but don't change the times. In other words, make 5 gallons of wine.

Question: Where do you find a 5-litre container? I've looked everywhere and can't find one?

Answer: Drinking water is sold in 5-litre containers throughout Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. If you are in USA, you might have to make do with a gallon container instead. It will still work.

Question: I'm in Kuwait, not sure if you are too. If so, I take it that it's OK to order the yeast from Amazon with no issues?

Answer: I have always hand-carried small quantities of yeast in my baggage when returning to the Gulf States from the UK. I don't have personal experience of having Amazon deliver to these countries.

Question: Why do you add the juice incrementally, instead of just adding the lot with sugar and yeast right at the beginning of the process? Does this technique not lead to a sweeter wine?

Answer: You can mix everything together at the start if you like. It will usually be OK. But the incremental method ensures that the yeast is alive and the juice is fermentable (free of preservatives) without the risk of wasting a large quantity if there is a problem. And, the incremental method avoids the problem of frothing through the lid and making a mess. There is no difference to the final dryness of the wine.

Question: How many times can you use harvested yeast to make wine? I used the yeast you mentioned and have harvested it to use on another batch, but I am curious if I can use it again or I should get rid of it.

Answer: Harvested yeast kept in a small airtight container in the fridge will be good for several months. Also, you can start a new batch from the sediment of a finished batch and keep this going forever, if you like.

Question: How much yeast in total do you use for a 5-liter batch of wine? Will adding more yeast make the finished wine more alcoholic? Does the wine this recipe makes have to be kept refrigerated after it's been poured into separate containers?

Answer: I use half a level teaspoonful. My method says one tsp, but that is to make sure that beginners see fermentation start quickly. Alcoholic strength depends on sugar content in the juice, not on yeast quantity. If you have fermented to dryness (recommended) you do not need to refrigerate the finished wine. It will mature better if you don't.

Question: Can you use a siphoning tube to move the wine out of the fermentation bottle?

Answer: Yes, you can if you like, but make sure you sterilise it first.

Question: What if I added table grapes to the first batch of grape juice wine to use as the yeast starter? Then once it got going, I could just eat the grapes and leave the wine to finish up!

Answer: You can cultivate the natural yeast found on the skins of some grapes and use it to start a batch of wine. Having done it once, you can harvest some of the sediment to start future batches. I've explained this in the comments section of the article. If you scroll down you can find it.

Question: Why did the color of my wine come out a very light red?

Answer: True red wine begins with pulp fermentation of crushed grapes. The alcohol formed in this stage extracts the strong color from the grape skins resulting in deep red wine. Using supermarket grape juice, there is no pulp fermentation stage so the wine turns out a dark rose rather than a true red.

Question: I have now made two batches of wine, one white, one red. Both have come out well and my thanks for sharing the information. The only criticisms I have received have been from people who prefer a drier wine, one of these being my wife! Is it possible to make the wine drier by reducing the sugar at Day 4-5, or will this upset the process in any way?

Answer: If you reduce the sugar, the wine will turn out less alcoholic and possibly slightly drier. This might be OK for you, but a better approach is to give the wine more fermenting time. Delay the refrigeration step by up to two more weeks keeping the wine in a warm place with the screw-cap closed, but open it briefly once a day to let gas escape. (I don't suggest this in the article because most beginners are impatient!)

Question: I made homemade blackberry wine (although it was more like liquor and was at least 80 proof) using just fresh berries, water, sugar and yeast rolls in plastic garbage bags. I started a new batch each week as the berries grew in my back yard and had enough bottled up to last for many months! I've never seen a recipe using yeast rolls but I figured it was worth a shot & boy did it work! Have you ever tried this method & if so, did you have success?

Answer: 80 proof is equivalent to 40% Alcohol by Volume (ABV). Sorry, but you cannot achieve that strength by fermentation alone, only by distillation. A realistic maximum yield is more like 15% ABV. I can't comment further because you don't give any detail of your method.

Question: If I am using a gallon or 4-liter container, what adjustments to the recipe do I make?

Answer: Adjust all quantities by a factor of 0.8 but do not change the method or the timings.

Question: For how many days did you ferment the wine? And after how many days will the wine be mature to start bottling?

Answer: Total fermentation time is typically 4 weeks, but this varies with temperature and juice sugar content. It can be bottled after three days in the fridge, but it is not 'mature'. It is a fresh young 'vin ordinaire'. it will improve for several months.

Question: I have been making wine at home for about a year now. Thank you for helping to debunk the mystery about wine making. Have you tried any other juices? Particularly cherry/plum?

Answer: I have found that for the wine to have a vinous quality (i.e. to be wine-like) at least half of the juice should be grape. But grape/cherry and grape/cranberry blends work well for reds and grape/apple for whites. In all cases (except maybe mango) you will need more sugar than with pure grape.

Question: I am coming to grips with the hydrometer. Particularly, using the 'sugar scale' (brix?) to help me expand into a variety of fruits with a variety of starting sugar levels. Am I correct that if I want a final 12-13% ABV, and the scale says '200gms sugar/litre required' and my must without added is currently '150 gms/litre' then I'd add 50gms sugar per litre to begin everything from the right starting line? Am I on base?

Answer: You are on base, but the question is too technical for this beginners' article. I cover the topic here: https://delishably.com/beverages/How-Strong-is-my-...

Question: What do you use for sterilization?

Answer: This particular wine uses sterile ingredients in new drinking water vessels. The only sterilization I'd suggest is flash sterilization of bottle caps with boiling water. If using more traditional methods, equipment, and ingredients, I would use sodium metabisulphite if available or Milton tablets where sulfites are not available.

Question: Any chance monkfruit would work in place of sugar or for part of the sugar? Or does the erythritol mess with the chemical reactions?

Answer: I've never used monkfruit in wine, but I think you might have a misunderstanding here. Monkfruit sweetener is used for sweetening, as a low-carb alternative to sugar. But the sugar in this wine is not for sweetening. It is for conversion to ethanol and is all metabolised by the yeast enzymes. There is (almost) no sugar left in the finished wine. You could use monkfruit to sweeten a finished wine if you like, but you can't use it as an alternative to the fermentable sugar.

Comments

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on August 04, 2020:

Sarah, SA shouldn't have sourcing issues - they make plenty of wine there! It's mainly the Islamic countries where you have to make do with bread yeast or harvest your own wine yeast from fresh grapes.

Sarah V on August 04, 2020:

I am from South Africa and I found red wine yeast from a supplier in Cape Town and they couriered it to me in a few days.

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on August 01, 2020:

Pietro - the risk of oxidation is higher but if you tighten the cap and refrigerate for 3 days as soon as the fermentation is complete, then decant into separate bottles, filled to the neck, you shouldn't have a problem.

Pietro Bomba on August 01, 2020:

Would using a larger, 10 litre, container for the same recipe create any challenges in the fermentation, such as impacts from too much oxygen? I prefer not doubling the amounts until tested;)

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on July 27, 2020:

Hi Graham - yeast isn't an ingredient, it's an agent. It grows by replication until it is in equilibrium with its own rate of dying. So the initial quantity is not important. As a guide, use half to one level teaspoonful per 5 litre batch.

grahamfalken on July 26, 2020:

Hi Dave, in your recipe you say a sachet of wine yeast, I have a bigger quantity, so how much in grams exactly, please?

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on July 23, 2020:

Retrodude - yes, 750g in 6 litres of the juice you specified should be fine. 8 years is a long time in winemaking!

retrodude on July 23, 2020:

Hi Dave, thanks for your quick reply!

It's unlikely you'd remember, the comment I was referring to was 8 years ago, I sometimes can't remember what I've said and done the day before, let alone 8 years ago! :)

Just one more question, when you say I could increase my sugar addition to 650g, is that for your 5 litre recipe?

We can only get 6 Litre water bottles out here, so am I right in assuming I can add 750g of sugar instead of the 600g like I did in my last batch?

Thanks again for your help, it's much appreciated! :)

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on July 22, 2020:

retrodude - I'm not sure which comment you are referencing, but typically grape juice will have between 120 and 140 g/l of fermentable sugar. Four litres will contain around 520g. Add another 500g and the total sugar content (104g/l) will come close to 12% when fermented to dryness. Using your juice at 125 g/l and following the method exactly, you could increase the sugar addition to 650g and allow an extra few days to ferment to dryness, aiming for 13% ABV. But I suggest you check out my article on ABV, here https://delishably.com/beverages/How-Strong-is-my-...

retrodude on July 20, 2020:

Hi Dave, many thanks for your fantastic article, it's so easy and simple to use!

I finished my first batch a week ago, and it seems to have turned out ok, it isn't sweet, but not as dry as I'd like it, and there's an ever so slight after taste of grape juice, if that makes sense? I'm hoping that will change after I've left the bottles to age for a few weeks.

My mate reckons it's something to do with the amount of sugar, he thinks maybe not enough, so I looked into it..

I'm using Malee grape juice out here in Thailand, apparently there are 125 grams of natural sugar per one litre carton, I got this info from their customer service....

I noticed in one of your earlier answers you base this recipe on each carton containing only 50 grams, so I'm a tad confused, should I be adding more or maybe adding less sugar than your recipe?

Just to add, I made a 6 litre batch, so I used 600 grams of sugar instead of 500 and two litres of juice on the fourth day... The bubbling stopped just inside two weeks (after the last carton on day 10), but I left it for just under 3 weeks to make sure it had all fermented.

Apologies if this has already been asked and I missed it, I've been through the whole thread and couldn't find a question similar to mine.

Thanks :)

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on July 13, 2020:

Idris - 750g sugar plus 4 litres of juice is close to the maximum fermentable sugar content. You have refrigerated it before the fermentation was quite complete and it has restarted on warming up after refrigeration. It is sparkling because the vessel was closed after refrigeration so the new CO₂ dissolved under pressure and sparkles when poured.

IdrisVanWilder on July 12, 2020:

Hi, i have posted before on the success of this recipe and the variations we have tried and i am back again... but with a query. i have further experimented with and alrabbi mixed berry juice x2l dantya red grape juice x2l and 1l sugar water with 750g sugar. the yeast i harvested from my first batch, the wine was in the fridge for 4 days and i decanted it, since it has been in a cool dark place. However i have managed to produce a really nice tasting fruity sparkling wine with a port like taste. i love it and our friends i tried it out on did too.

my plea for help is how did i manage it and how do i do it again and has anyone else managed to produce sparkling wine from this recipe and if so how?? non of my others have turned out sparkling?? the only think i can think of id the heat in saudi at the moment or the fact i let it ferment a while longer.

hope someone can help

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on June 19, 2020:

Kate - I put the bottle caps into the funnel and pour boiling water over them and through the funnel. I also swill out the bottles with boiled water. The wine itself is around 12% ABV which is a hostile environment for most spoilage organisms. After capping the bottles, I wipe any drips from around the necks and flash-rinse the (closed) caps and neck with boiled water.

Kate on June 18, 2020:

Do you sterilize the bottles and funnel?

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on June 14, 2020:

Shana - I assume you are talking about clear food-grade screw-top plastic bottles similar to the one in my "coming along nicely" photograph in the article? If so, there is absolutely nothing to worry about. In fact, because the juice will have been pasteurised and bottled under sterile conditions, it is extremely unlikely for spoilage to occur.

Shana Chandler on June 13, 2020:

A 'friend' expressed that he thought my wine could potentially be poisonous because it's fermenting in the original juice bottles. Please help me explain why this simply is not true, especially when I plan to transfer into glass when it's finished.

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on June 12, 2020:

Wessel - good call! I'm assuming 1-litre soda bottles for the bottling stage. You'll find that a few days after bottling the bottles will firm up from the pressure inside. This is the advantage of plastic over glass. With a glass bottle you can't tell if it's pressurised without opening it.

Wessel on June 10, 2020:

Hi Dave. Best home-made wine making page on the web. Thanks a stack.

I've got two batches going side by side, one your recipe and one 'throw it all together' recipe. Am super keen to taste the difference.

I have a follow on question to the sparkling one below. You say to use 1 cube of sugar (I'm assuming 5ml) into a soda bottle. The question is what size soda bottle (one or two litre)? Need to make sure i get the sugar ratio correct.

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on June 05, 2020:

Jenny - it sounds good. The exact time depends on the yeast and the ambient temperature. If the activity has virtually stopped you can safely put it in the fridge. Hope you enjoy drinking it.

Jenny63 on June 04, 2020:

I have never made wine before. Followed your recipe, used bread yeast as we can not buy wine yeast in our country and 100% grape juice, no preservatives. I put a pipe in the lid which is submerged into a bottle of water so that I can monitor the bubbles. It is now 8 days after adding the last 1lt juice and the bubbling has slowed down tremendously and I can see that the wine seems clearer and sediment has settled. Is it ready to go in the fridge for 3 days? if so is it okay that it has stopped so early. Thanks for your recipe, enjoy making my first wine and cant wait to taste it..

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on May 23, 2020:

Idris - thanks for telling me :) The key to successful experimenting is only to change one thing at a time, and make notes. That way, you'll soon find out what works best for you. Glad you're enjoying it!

IdrisVanWilder on May 23, 2020:

Just a thanks for this I have used this to make Red/White/Rose/mixed berry and even peach and pear. We have even tried substituting 50% of the sugar for honey. i'm not normally a wine drinker so I couldn't tell you if its good or not, I just know there are some flavours I prefer. the peach and mixed berry. however my husband is, he seems to enjoy it all. due to delays in postage we have reused harvested yeast, lets see how that turns out. :)

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on May 20, 2020:

Rob - if you are going to add yeast nutrient, add it at the start, even before you add the yeast. It is most useful in the early growth stage.

Rob on May 19, 2020:

Thank you for all this good information. It's not easy to find solid winemaking info. The yeast I purchased is exactly the same East you recommend. I also purchased some yeast nutrient along with it. I was thinking about adding it to the sugar water. What are your thoughts on the matter?

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on May 17, 2020:

Rob- it is not necessary. It will rehydrate and start working when you add it to the juice. Just make sure the juice is at room temperature, 20 to 25 Celsius.

Rob on May 17, 2020:

The wine yeast packets that I have suggest you should rehydrate the yeast in lukewarm water. Is this really necessary or can I just add it to the first dose of juice as you explained?

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on May 15, 2020:

Nandz - ferment the wine to dryness, give it three days in the fridge to clear, pour it carefully into fresh plastic soda bottles. drop one sugar cube into each bottle, cap tightly, leave in a warmish place for a week then store in a cool place for at least a month. It will then be sparkling but of course there will be a slight yeast sediment in the bottle, so open and pour carefully. Don't use glass bottles and don't exceed one sugar cube per bottle.

Nandz on May 14, 2020:

Thanks for all the help but I did not see the answer to the question about how you can get the wine to be sparkling ?thanks so much

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on May 14, 2020:

George, yes, you can start a fermentation using the natural yeast on grape skins. It is not guaranteed to work and there is a small risk of spoilage, but it is still better than bread yeast. Crush about 20 grapes and put all of it (skins, pulp, pips, juice) into the fermenting jar along with about half a carton of juice. It should start fermenting in a couple of days. Then proceed as per the method in the article.

George on May 13, 2020:

What about using some table grapes during the first stage? Will clean table grapes be able to donate the yeast from their skins into the wine batch?

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on May 08, 2020:

Ade - yes, but sterilise the bottles first with Milton tablets and rinse with cool boiled water. I would also scald-sterilise the caps in boiling water.

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on May 08, 2020:

Cecilia - the cloudiness is yeast cells that have not settled to the bottom. Put it in the fridge for a few days to help it clear. But baking yeast is not as quick to clear as a good wine yeast.

Ade on May 07, 2020:

When bottling the wine can I use old screw top wine bottles and if not

What do you recommend?

Cecilia Anne Auld on May 07, 2020:

Hi..I made the wine using a simpler recipe as I had not seen your site..I will make it again using your method..however, this first batch of mine is cloudy..why would this have happened. I used 100% pure grape juice and bakers yeast as it is all I can get

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on May 03, 2020:

James, added ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is not a problem. Natural orange juice and blackcurrant juice are high in vit C but ferment quite happily.

James Garraway on May 03, 2020:

some juices have no preservative but they do have antioxidants, in my case ascorbic acid. I know the anti slows down chemical change so presumably will also slow down sugar-alcohol conversion an should not be used .is that correct?

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on May 01, 2020:

Suzanne - I'm sure it will turn out fine. Welcome to your new hobby!

SuzanneVB from Scotland on May 01, 2020:

Hi Dave! Thank you very much for this great rundown. Never made wine before and am feeling like a kid again, making mud pies. Have used a lidded bucket instead of a water bottle for my first go and cut a hole for a bung and bubbler. It's all working perfectly! Last carton gone in, bubble thingy is burping politely and I'm absolutely thrilled. Will update when it's bottled and I'll have chugged down my first *ahem* thimbleful. What fun!

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on April 14, 2020:

Hi Mollie - thanks for the appreciation. The home-made fermentation traps sound good and I agree they are fun to watch. They were essential when glass demijohns were the amateur's standard fermenter, but nowadays food quality plastics with screw caps really are good enough. As an alternative to instant (baker's) yeast, you could try harvesting live yeast from fresh muscat grapes. If you scroll through the comments here, I have explained the method for doing this. You only have to do it once, because you can then harvest live yeast from the sediment of your first brew.

Mollie Kruger on April 13, 2020:

I am from South Africa and in lock-down. At that beginning of April, I have started using your process and want to do a new batch every three days. The third batch was started yesterday. Obtaining juice is not a problem, I can go out to buy "food". Unfortunately, I will have to do with instant yeast for now, but hope to obtain proper wine yeast as soon as I can. Out of interest, I have made very basic fermentation traps by drilling a hole in the cap of each container and inserting a piece of clear plastic tubing (10mm diameter) using a force fit. It seals perfectly. I then create a loop using cable ties and fill the tube with a bit of water. It works very well. I love the sounds coming from the traps and being able to confirm the fermentation process. I also love the aroma in my kitchen. Thanks for sharing your process! From one engineer to another

Raoul on February 27, 2020:

Hi Dave-- thanks a million for this recipe, it's gone down a treat each time. I have been scales up to 20L each batch successfully. I have two questions for you:

-is there any merit to adding a pint of tea (no extra water added, offset from syrup) to add tannins?

-have you any tips for hard apple cider from same brands listed above?

Cheers,

R

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on February 21, 2020:

Juls - yes, you can. But it will then need more time to ferment out to dryness. Maybe two or three extra weeks. It will end up around 14% instead of 12%. But there is also a risk of it not fermenting right through and ending up sweet. Up to you!

Juls on February 20, 2020:

Hello Dave, thanks so much for the recipe. I was wondering if I can replace the 1 litre of water with grape juice instead or a total of 5 litre of grape juice? I suppose the ABV will be higher. Thanks for your help!

Atari Dave on February 17, 2020:

Many thanks Dave, you’re a legend! We’re not drinkers of fizzy drinks but have quite a few empty empty wine bottles with screw caps so I can sterilise those and make sure the cap is firmly closed.

Thanks again for keeping everything so simple! Cheers

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on February 17, 2020:

Dave - for this wine, clear plastic coke bottles with screw caps are fine. It's not designed for long-term maturing. Keep the bottles well away from sunlight.

Atari Dave on February 16, 2020:

Hi Dave, things are going well with my first batch thanks, just wondering what bottles and caps or corks you use for bottling the finished product, thanks.

Sarah on February 11, 2020:

Hi Dave - Well you make a good point. I do tend towards the rieslings and moscatos. To answer your question, It bubbled nicely after adding the yeast and bubbled vigorously for about 7 days after adding the sugar then settled down after about day 10, then I put it in the fridge. But I was wondering about mixing the sugar with 2 pints of water, perhaps I should have only used a small amount of water? to keep it a bit sweeter? Ah well, I will set the bottles in my basement with all my other fails and test them next winter. I can be very patient. Half the fun is in the experimentation after all. Thanks for responding and posting!

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on February 11, 2020:

Sarah - something doesn't add up here. The grape juice has a high sugar content. If you've ended up with something bitter, the sugar must have gone. But where? If there's no alcohol content what's happened to the sugar? I don't know what kind of wine you like, but is it possible you just don't like the taste of a young dry wine? Did it bubble for a few weeks? More info needed before I can even guess what has happened.

Sarah on February 09, 2020:

Well, this was only my second try at making wine and it was a colossal fail. I followed your instructions closely (had to convert units but I feel confident I got it right) and the wine is bitter, almost unpalatable with absolutely no alcohol content. Is there any way to fix this? Add more sugar and yeast? I guess at this point, I have nothing to lose so any experiment you might want to try here couldn't hurt.

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on December 21, 2019:

Erin, not days in advance. Make it the day before you want to use it. The only reason for the overnight is to make sure it has cooled to room temperature.

Erin on December 19, 2019:

Hello! I was wondering if there's a specific reason to make the sugar syrup days in advance? I would worry about it spoiling sitting out for two days, but if perhaps there was some sort of process the syrup has to go through to be ready to add I don't want to mess myself up by making it the day of.

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on December 18, 2019:

M Gregory - raw brown sugar will work. Use about 10% more than the specified amount for white. But it will give the wine a caramel flavour and aroma which may or may not be to your liking.

M Gregory on December 17, 2019:

If i use raw brown sugar would that be a good substitute? Also what would the conversion be?

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on November 28, 2019:

Smith Wethers - Even opening a bottle/carton of juice in the vicinity of an actively fermenting batch is likely to cause it to start fermenting, as the air around the ferment is full of viable yeast cells. Nothing to worry about. You can safely add it to the bulk of the ferment.

Smith Whethers on November 17, 2019:

Dave - Great article, I've had success twice. The first time, I scaled up your recipe to about 6 liters, and the second time to 5 gallons. This time, I decided to use white rather than red grape juice to experiment a little.

Since I scaled up, on day 5 I poured in a half of a bottle of juice in addition to the other full ones and sugar solution. When I came back on day 10, the half bottle appeared to have fermented itself!

The plastic bottle was expanded, there were bubbles on the surface, and a ton of gas released when I opened it. The batch smells alcoholic as does the half of the bottle. I haven't added it yet out of caution.

Is this something to be worried about? Or is it possible a small amount of liquid from the batch made it into the bottle while I was pouring the first half? I held it relatively close while pouring to reduce splashing everywhere but not to a level where it seems this would be possible, even so it would have been a tiny amount.

The bottle is 2.83 L and the yeast is Red Star Premier Rouge, which reports to be designed for reds, if that makes a difference.

Any help is appreciated.

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on October 30, 2019:

Tony - I do it for three reasons 1) to minimise the chance of spoilage. The incremental method maximises the amount of active yeast per unit volume. 2) to minimise panic. If you add everything at once, you will see no bubbles for maybe 3 days, as the CO2 that is formed dissolves in the large bulk of juice. Bubbles don't appear until the juice is saturated with dissolved CO2. Beginners then panic and start adding extra yeast, or worse. 3) to protect carpets. If you fill the jar too soon, when fermentation peaks it is likely to froth over the top, making a sticky mess. I don't want to be held responsible for that. You see, there is method in my madness- I know what I'm doing! ;)

Tony on October 29, 2019:

Out of interest, why do you add the ingredients in increments? ie, once fermentation has begun, why not add everything?

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on October 24, 2019:

Berto - it has a good chance of working, however, it might not start bubbling as quickly as you would like, as the new juice will have to saturate with dissolved CO2 before bubbles start to form. Have patience!

Berto on October 20, 2019:

I realized my math was wrong when I was making my syrup.....

I figured that all out though. I've added the syrup and juice to what I have and hope that it starts to ferment again (forgot to mention I used a whole pack of yeast that's for 23 liters). If it doesn't I'm gonna add that re-start packet of yeast, do what it says on the packet and hope for the best.

Any tips?

Berto on October 18, 2019:

Hey Dave great article.

When I started make wine using your recipe for the first time I realized I was using too big of a container (19 liter) not wanting to waist what I started I continued ahead with your recipe and measurements.

Now I'm at day 8 with 4.5 liters (the bottles I found were in 1.5 liters) and after reading through the comments I know I can't leave the empty space because of oxidation and I'm guessing transfering what I have to smaller bottles will also cause oxidation.

So, to save what I have would I'm thinking I could add (pretty sure measurements are right) a restarter pack, with 9 liters of juice and 1,750g of syrup in essence going back to day 4/5. Then add my last 4.5 liters at day 10 or so giving me a liter buffer in my bottle.

Do you think this will work or would you suggest something different?

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on October 06, 2019:

Ben, most countries use litres and kilograms. This makes life easy! USA still uses gallons and ounces. It can be hard to find a 5 litre vessel in US. The nearest would be a gallon which is less than 5 litres. This is the Internet. We have to cope with many cultures!

Ben on October 04, 2019:

Thanks very much for the easy recipes.

My question is that you mentioned one 5 Litter or 1 Gallon.

Is the 5 Litter = 1 Gallon?

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on June 07, 2019:

Thanks Keith & JW and best of luck with your efforts.

KeithF on June 05, 2019:

Thanks! Your recipe is the best and so easy. I have done a lot more work than this with poor results.

JW on May 13, 2019:

Thanks a ton for your help... Cheers :)

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on May 13, 2019:

JW - Enjoy KSA and remember not to criticise MBS in public! You shouldn't have a problem hand-carrying a small amount of yeast. You don't need much because you can 'harvest' excess yeast from the sediment of your first batch to use in your second, and so on. You can also start a batch using the natural yeast on the skin of fresh muscat grapes, but I wouldn't recommend this to a beginner. Good luck!

JW on May 12, 2019:

Hey Dave, firstly thank you for this invaluable resource and the time you have taken to reply to so many queries... may be this has been asked before .. but as a newbie i am afraid so thought better to confirm...going to bring some wine yeast (3-4 packets lavlin) on my next vacation into the driest country in the planet aka the kingdom...it should be okay right? any tips?

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on May 10, 2019:

ken - the method is for 5 litres. It is easier to work in litres and grams. You can use gallons and ounces if you must, but be aware that these units are not standardised internationally.

ken on May 09, 2019:

One gallon water jug is 120 oz. 4-one litre is 135 0z of grape juice is 136 oz.!?

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on April 23, 2019:

jone pe, I've never used Chinese yeast, but any wine yeast will grow in the fermenting vessel until all the sugar is used up or the alcohol level is as high as it can tolerate. Then the fermentation stops and the yeast sinks to the bottom. When the wine is clear, it is also free of yeast.

jone pe on April 23, 2019:

Hi

5 grams of dry Chinese wine was added to the yeast

1 liter and a half of Welch's Grape Juice.

Note that 10 grams of dry Chinese yeast brews 50 kg of red grapes.

Is it a risk of increasing yeast in wine ??

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on March 04, 2019:

Hi Steve - in UK, I use Sodium Metabisulphite solution for sterilising. But where this is hard to find, e.g. in UAE & Qatar, I use Milton tablets (or equivalent). These are available everywhere as they are intended for sterilising babies' bottles. Use as directed and rinse after in cooled boiled water.

Steve F. on March 02, 2019:

Hi Dave - Thanks so much for this!

I know the water container is clean, but do you sanitize the wine bottles or funnel? If so, do you have a go-to product? Thanks.

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on February 10, 2019:

Robert - it's possible that the juice contains preservatives, or was too warm, or that the yeast was no longer viable. This can happen if it gets damp or too warm in storage. If you are sure the juice is OK, you can add an actively fermenting yeast starter made with new yeast and juice.

Robert Scott on February 09, 2019:

The last wine I made was fine and I’ve bottled it for a couple of months.

However this time the wine hardly bubbled after adding yeast and shaking. I’ve just added sugar syrup and hopefully it will bubble soon.

Anything I can do or should it be ok?

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on December 31, 2018:

PcolaBill - Rauch is quite intense, heavy juice. But are you sure you have fermented it through to dryness? If it is still sweet, it might just need longer to ferment. At this time of year (in the N. Hemisphere) cooler average temperatures need longer fermentation times.

PcolaBill on December 29, 2018:

I have used the Rauch red grape juice and the finished product is pretty thick, more like juice than wine. Is there a way to thin it with out messing it up.

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on December 26, 2018:

Troy - I don't think Customs will be a problem. You should be OK.

Troy on December 26, 2018:

Thank you, I will try and will share my experience.

Q- I’m planning to order Wine Yeast online, will be there any issue with the costumes?

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on December 18, 2018:

Roger - yes, it's certainly proved a popular article. Having recently retired, I'm thinking about putting together an e-book of techniques and recipes. We'll see.

Roger on December 18, 2018:

Thank you Dave. I will be careful next time. How do you feel? - 8 years back you posted this recipe and till date you are receiving comments from all over the world.. Isn't that something great.

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on December 17, 2018:

Roger - the extra water explains the absolute dryness. Also, the wine is probably closer to 11% than the target 12.5%. It should still be OK and will improve for a month or two, but don't add extra sugar to the bottles, or they will referment, possibly blowing the corks or at least bubbling on pouring and remaining cloudy.

Roger on December 16, 2018:

Dave.Thanks for the response. The wine is very dry, no sweetness at all and very hard. I did a mistake on Day 2, along with 500gm sugar i added 1 liter of water - so the total sugar syrup became 1.5 liter. Wondering if this messed up everything Anyways I will wait for few more weeks. Do you recommend adding more sugar to individual bottles. Is it a good idea.

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on December 15, 2018:

Roger - I don't recommend brown sugar as it can leave a bitter taste. White granulated sugar is best. Are you sure it is sour (acidic, like lemon juice) or maybe just very dry (no sweetness)? If it has just finished, let it rest for a few weeks. Even a little time will soften it.

Darren Samy on December 14, 2018:

Hi Dave, I was so excited to try this recipe. Unfortunately, my final decanted wine is very very sour. I tried mixing some sugar to a glass of wine for testing. Taste got better but the sourness still lingers. I used Rauch, wine yeast and brown sugar as main ingredients. Any suggestion to improve the taste. Thanks Roger

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on December 12, 2018:

Judy - I don't live in the States so I can't comment on what's available. Most grape juices will work fine as long as there are no added preservatives or antioxidants. Always check the label!

Judy Coleman on December 11, 2018:

What brand of light or dark grape juice do you recommend in the States?

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on October 09, 2018:

Yes, you can use any grape juice that is free of preservatives.

bam-bam1969 on October 08, 2018:

I use a steam juicer to process my grapes into juice. I have both Concord red and Niagra white grape juice that I would like to make in to wine. Can I use this juice to make wine with this recipe?

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on June 25, 2018:

No, but you will have to do a lot of shaking to dissolve the sugar! Honey is easier.

yazzzz on June 24, 2018:

Do u boil the cranberry juice though ?

yazzzz on May 18, 2018:

drooling over the recipe, thanks Dr Dave, in the process , will keep you posted on the results, thanks a million

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on May 11, 2018:

Hi Yazzz, just follow the red wine method but use cranberry juice instead of water to dissolve the sugar. If you want, instead of 500g sugar you can use 250g sugar and 250g honey. It will take a little longer to finish and clear, but I like it. KDD grape juice, any cranberry with no preservatives.

yazzzz on May 05, 2018:

Hey Dr. Dave,

thanks again for the great blog. we cant thank you enough. i want to try your cranberry/grapr blend tha you have mentioned earlier. whats your recipe including the juice brands you are using. xoxo

Yaz

Ahmed on April 24, 2018:

Dear Dave,

First of all, thank you so much for this blog. It changed my lifestyle and saved me a lot of money.

I have two questions regarding a previous patch and a current one.

Previous patch: I followed your instructions and completed 3 full weeks after day 10. However, I couldn’t leave the container in the fridge and left it for 5 days in a very cold closed room. The wine turned out very good but it has a lot of carbon bubbles. I tried to shake the bottles to release the gas, it get reduced but not total gas release. What do you think think went wrong? Is it the refrigerator step?

Current patch: i am using 12L container as well using the yeast from previous patch with same container. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do the work of day 10 for traveling reason and now it is day 19. Is it okay to pour juice as in day 10? Do you think it is safe to reuse the same container?

Thank you so much once again.

KSA expat on March 02, 2018:

Thanks!

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on February 26, 2018:

Lorraine - yes, but use 750g of sugar, not 500. I prefer a grape/cranberry blend, but if you fancy the pure cranberry, go for it!

Lorraine on February 25, 2018:

can i use the same recipe to make cranberry wine from 100%

cranberry juice

Dave McClure (author) from Kyle, Scotland on February 24, 2018:

KSA first, thanks for the supportive message! White wine is all about freshness, brightness, youth ;) Reds can be heavier and deeper in flavour. True white wine can only be made with freshly pressed grape juice. Supermarket juice is always pasteurised. This process makes it darker and heavier. The freshness is gone forever. You'll never replicate the gooseberry crispness of a Pinot Grigio using pasteurised juice. You are right. The reds work better.

Using harvested yeast, there are no special procedures to follow. The main thing is to sterilise the small bottle you keep it in before you harvest it.

KSA expat on February 23, 2018:

Hi Dave - I just wanted to say thanks, I have been revisiting this page regularly since 2014 when I first came to Saudi Arabia and still it is my go to reference.

As there are now 873 comments I have to apologize for asking what I’m sure has already been asked:

1) I find that following the recipe with red grape juice yields a terrific result, but doing the same with white grape juice does not seem to turn out as good. Is this just my personal taste or do you have any tips or tweaks when using white versus red? I note that I have never been a wine connoisseur so maybe this is how it’s supposed to be.

2) what’s the process for harvesting used yeast? I read your comment about capping the used yeast in the fridge but what is the procedure for using this for subsequent batches? Anything particular that needs to be done to the mud?

Thanks many millions!