If you have ever been one to experiment in the kitchen or in the classroom laboratory, you have probably wondered if you could make your own wine. Grapes are usually available year-round and, of course, sugar is cheap. Wine bottles can be scrounged up and even some 5-gallon glass carboys can be found at yard sales. Finding the yeast, though, is a little different since it is not something normally stocked at your grocery store---and a specialty store might not be close by, either. So, you can try making your own strain. Here are a few tips on getting it started.
Place the grapes (ones with the white powdery sheen are best) in a ceramic or glass bowl and crush them so that the juice is released and they are no longer recognizable as grapes. Any utensils you use must be well sanitized to prevent bacterial growth. Add enough of the orange juice so that the fruit is just covered. Add sugar. Stir well, then cover it with a cloth or kitchen towel. Place bowl in a warm area, from 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Allow the mixture to sit and ferment for a day or two until it has reached a good bubbling stage and you can see at least an inch of a foam layer on the top. This might happen sooner or longer depending on how many yeast cells were present on the grape skins. Stir the mixture every 6 hours or so during this sitting time, as the oxygen helps the fermentation.
Stir the mixture well and pour it through a coarse strainer after it has reached the good bubbling stage.You can either bottle this up and place it in the refrigerator to slow down the fermentation, or add this wild yeast to a 5-gallon batch of prepared juice for wine fermenting. Save about one half cup for a new batch if you want to do it again.
Add 2 more cups of grape juice to the half cup set aside in Step 3, to continue growing your strain of yeast for future batches of wine. Make sure all your utensils are well sanitized each time you make a new batch so bacteria are not introduced to the mixture. Give it time to ferment in a warm place as before. Strain and bottle it once it has the 1-inch layer of foam on top.
- 2 c. grapes (Concord, Thompson, Champagne or any grocery store variety)
- 1 c. orange juice
- Bowl, ceramic or glass
- 1 tsp. white sugar
- 2 c. grape juice
Any fruit juice will work for this process as long as it is sweet.