Apple Wine Recipe

I got my start in winemaking by fermenting apple juice. I bought 1-gallon glass jugs, filled with juice, for less than homebrew shops were selling them empty. This got me a collection of small secondary fermenters and some nice dry white wine. I still make apple wine, almost every year, from my own apple trees and store bought juice. The apple juice will be low in acid and fermentable sugar, so I’ll have to add both. I’m using honey as my sugar source this year, but ordinary table sugar works too.

Apples on a kitchen scale reading just over 4 lb and Trader Joe's Gravenstein apple juice. The main ingredients of my apple wine.

Ingredients

4 lb 1.5 oz Liberty & Akane apples
1 Gallon Trader Joe’s Graventein Apple Juice
0.5 tsp tanninTannin is optional, but no more than 0.25 tsp/gallon
honey to SG 1.090
acid to 6-7 g/L in the finished wine
sulfite to 50 ppm (equivalent to 1 campden tablet)
1 tsp pectic enzyme
Premier Cuvee yeast from starter

Procedure

Since the Gravenstein juice is pasteurized, there’s no threat from microorganisms. So I’ll chop & juice the apples and add all the sulfite to this juice, where it’s needed most. I’ll add the pectic enzyme to the Gravenstein juice, combine them, and measure the SG, pH, & TA. I’ll raise the SG to 1.090 by adding honey.

Juice from 4 lb of apples fills a plastic measuring cup to the 4-cup line.

Here’s where the juicer that I used making my Produce Department Chablis came in handy. It made short work of the 4 lb of apples I threw at it. It does clog often, but it’s so much better than the other methods I’ve tried (sugar extraction, blender, mill & press without an actual mill or press, chop & toss in the fermenter).

Measure sugar & acid and add the honey

The apples yielded 1 quart (just under 1 liter) of juice. Adding it to the one gallon of Trader Joes juice gave me 1.25 gallons. This combined juice had an SG of 1.050, a pH of 3.52, and a TA of 5.5 g/L. Added a cup of this juice to the 2 cups of starter (Niagra juice with Premier Cuvee yeast that I used to start the Merlot and Chardonnay).

Honey, with 18% water, has an SG of 1.417. Converting my 1.25 gallons to metric measures, I have 4.7312L of 1.050 must. Adding 0.5785L honey will yield 5.31L of SG 1.090 must. I’ll round and call it 0.6L honey.

I’ll wait to add the acid

My 4.7L of juice had 5.5 g/L of titratable acidity, or about 26 grams of acid in total. Adding 0.6L of honey brought the total volume to 5.3L. A typical white wine must would have about 8 g/L, so my 5.3L ought to have about 42 grams of acid. Assuming no contribution from the honey, I would need to add about 16 grams of acid to reach my goal. I think I’ll wait for it to ferment out, take another reading and adjust the acid then. Acidity often drops during fermentation, and I’ll aim for 6-7 g/L, as tartaric, in the finished wine.

Other apple wine recipes

Growing your own apples gives you more control (you pick the varietal, decide when to harvest, and so on). Here’s an apple wine recipe using 100% home grown apples!

On the other hand, making wine from store-bought juice is quicker and easier. Much quicker and easier. So if you’re just starting out or you just want great apple wine with less work and cleanup, try my apple wine recipe from store-bought juice.



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60 thoughts on “Apple Wine Recipe

  1. cotyke

    hello! im also new at this apple wine making, ive went to a wine maker with questions and walked out with a recipe and dry chemicals to aid my batch. i was just curious if you might save the yeast after racking and when might i add sweetness after stop fermentation on 1st rack?

    thanks!!!

  2. Erroll Post author

    Hello cotyke,

    I’ve re-used yeast before. You have to be careful about your sanitation – best bet is to have your must ready, then rack, then add the lees to the must right away – but it does work.

    With sweetening, you want to make sure that fermentation has finished, and the best way to do that is to wait. Let it ferment to dryness, rack, if it drops more sediment rack again, repeat until doesn’t drop sediment for a month, then stabilize and sweeten.

    Erroll

  3. CuAllaidh

    After bulk aging my apple mead for about 7 months I finally tasted it, it was a surprisingly dry mead with some interesting flavours. I entered it into an SCA mead competition, and while it didn’t place it was well recieved, and I did make an interesting Oak Aged Chai Mead which won the gold. I must credit your site as part of the reason I won that gold. the Chai mead was only my second attempt at making mead, or any alcoholic beverage, I spent alot of time combing your blog and others for tips and tricks before I started, and thus I think is why my meads turned out well.

  4. Erroll Post author

    Sounds like you’re doing great, CuAllaidh. I’m glad I could help, but you made the gold medal mead – congratulations!

    Erroll

  5. Bob

    Hey Errol,
    For apple wine, try using a specific gravity level of 1.080 instead 1.090, you’ll get a better wine.

  6. Erroll Post author

    Thanks for the suggestion, Bob. I’ve been wanting to experiment by varying the SG and keeping everything else constant. The list of things I want to do is longer than the list of things I have time for – it makes life interesting and frustrating at the same time!

    Erroll

  7. Matt

    Erroll,
    Well…… I am stuck between a rock and 7 gallons of apple juice that doesn’t want to ferment. I started with 35 lbs of apples, juice them all to produce about 3 gallons of juice then added water and sugar to bring then volume and S/G up to 7 gallons and 1.85-1.90 s/g. I added sulfites to kill anything that could have ridden in on the apples then added my starter 24 hours later. My past experiences told me after 12hrs it should have been in full fermenting swing but….. Nothing….. So 24 hrs later I rechecked s/g = 1.87 and added another starter….. Still Nothing….. I am now 48hrs and 3 starters in and worried my apple juice is going to get rotten before it starts fermenting. Any thoughts? I was thinking check Ph but I don’t know how or what to do if it’s not right. Thanks for any advise!
    Matt

  8. Erroll Post author

    Hi Matt,

    My 8-gallon batch of Welch’s Wine showed vigorous fermentation 3 days after adding a starter. My 6-gallon kit was vigorously fermenting after 2-days – with that one I pitched the lees of another batch right into the fermenter. So I wouldn’t worry just yet. If it turns out that it doesn’t ferment by day 3, then I’d wonder about the pH too. There’s two ways to do that, the quick and easy way or the high maintenance and expensive way.

    pH papers are quick and easy. They’re also cheap, but they lack precision.

    pH meters are expensive, and you have to fuss over them. But when they’re working correctly you get a fast, accurate reading.

    Hope this helps,
    Erroll

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