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.
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
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.
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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