Why make wine from table grapes?
Grapes from the produce section of the grocery store are meant to be eaten fresh, and you shouldn’t expect them to make top notch wines from them. Still, I’ve always been curious about what sort of wine they would make. The green seedless grapes that are so common are called Thomson Seedless. A local grocery put Thomson seedless and two other seedless grapes, identified only as “red” and “black,” on sale for $0.88/lb. Here was my chance to satisfy my curiosity and get a good deal. How could I pass that up?
How do you make wine from table grapes?
These grapes, Thomson Seedless and other two, are large compared to most wine grapes. Which means that, pound for pound, they have much less skin than wine grapes. I could go into the geometry, but I’ve been sipping some of my wine tonight and trying to commit mathematics right now could get really ugly. Trust me on this – large grapes means less skin. So these grapes wouldn’t be suitable for red wine, which gets it’s flavor and tannin from the skins. Also, some of these unidentified “red” and “black” grapes might be American or hybrid grapes, which may have a “foxiness” or other undesirable flavors to them. Making a white wine from them could help minimize or avoid these off flavors.
So it’s best to approach this sort of wine as a white (or blush or rose depending on how much color the “red” and “black” grapes contribute). I decided to buy about 20 lb (around 9 kg) of these grapes, roughly equal quantities of each, and juice them. After testing the sugar and acid, I would adjust the juice appropriately for a white wine. That means a titratable acidity of 7-9 g/L (it will drop during fermentation to about 5-7.5 g/L) and a pH of 3.1-3.4. It also means enough sugar for about 12% alcohol. I’m inclined to make a dry white, but these grapes might produce a bland wine. As the wine matures, I may decide to sweeten it if I think it needs a little help.
This should be an easy and fun wine to make, and I started making it today. I’ll explain how over the next day (or few days).
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