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. Noel Aynsley

    Thanks from Australia, we shall give the wine making a go. As we have an over abundance of apples from just two trees this summer.
    Noel

  2. Erroll Post author

    Hi Cindy,

    Right now, I’ve got a 1-gallon jug and a wine bottle full (about 4.5 liters) aging in the cellar.

    Erroll

  3. John

    Ever done a batch from apple cider instead of juice? I bought two 1 gal. glass jugs of apple cider today with the intent of attempting fermentation of the cider like you suggest here with juice. I bought it so I could cheaply obtain two more 1 gal secondary fermenters. (Both you and Jack Keller are responsible for my hunting for 1 gal glass jugs of juice for these reasons, by the way, since you both state that you do it this way.) Is there anything you know about the differences between juice and cider which might prohibit my making wine from cider (or change my approach to it)? Thanks in advance! As you know I am still a newbie to this winemaking business, and all your advice is greatly appreciated, as well as is your blog.

    Sincerely,
    John

  4. Erroll Post author

    Hi John,

    The short answer:

    You can use the same recipe without modification.

    The long answer:

    In the US, fermented apple juice is called “hard cider,” and unfermented apple juice is called “apple juice.” Except when it is called “cider.” There doesn’t seem to be a hard and fast rule about when to call the stuff cider and when to call it juice. I think the cloudier it is, the more likely it is to be called cider. The clearer it is, the more likely it is to be called juice.

    In most of the rest of the world, fermented apple juice is called “cider” – no adjective. Unfermented juice is sometimes called “sweet cider.”

    If you add sugar and acid to apple juice then ferment it, you get “apple wine.”

    Good luck with your apple wine!

    Erroll

  5. Reeca

    Erroll,
    HELP! My Dad gave me 10 bushels of apples and one can make only so much with them. I remember coming across an Apple Wine made with applesauce. I didn’t know what to do with all the apples so I am making applesauce (16 gallons so far) and putting it in the freezer. I emailed Jack Keller (his site said you could make apple wine out of applesauce but could not find a recipe) and his email site said that it may be quite some time before he could get back to me. Please, if you have any recipes that or let me know how to substitute the sauce, I would be ever so grateful! Reeca in Kentucky

  6. Erroll Post author

    Hello Reeca,

    Some people think I make some pretty odd wine, but it never occurred to me to make wine from applesauce. I really think you’d make a better wine by using the raw apples, but this is how I’d approach it if I had nothing but applesauce and a hankering for wine.

    I need to know how much liquid a given amount of applesauce will yield, and how much sugar is in that liquid. So I would “juice” the applesauce by adding pectic enzyme – maybe one teaspoon/quart or something like that. Let it site overnight, then strain off the liquid with cheesecloth and a colander. Use measuring cups to determine the volume and a hydrometer to determine the specific gravity of the juice.

    If the specific gravity is greater than 1.090, then add water until you get to 1.090. If the SG is less than 1.090, then make a sugar syrup (1-2 parts sugar to 1 part water, boiled and cooled) and add it to the juice until you hit 1.090. Keep track of how much water/syrup you add, and measure the final volume. Now you have an idea of how much water/syrup added to a given quantity of applesauce yields your final volume of must.

    Say you added 1 tsp enzyme to a quart of applesauce, for example, and got a pint of liquid. You then added one cup of syrup to get three cups of 1.090 must. Now you know that 7 quarts applesauce, 7 tsp enzyme, and 7 cups syrup will get you about 1.3 gallons (7 pints = 14 cups liquid + 7 cups syrup = 21 cups) of must. 1.3 gallons of must is a reasonable target for every gallon of wine you want to make. Scale it up or down as you like.

    I would add the enzyme to the applesauce, wait overnight, add the syrup, sulfite to 50 ppm (about a campden tablet/gallon), and pitch the yeast. Notice I didn’t say to strain it this time; I think that would be too much work at this point. Racking after it has fermented out should be easier. Measure the acidity after the first racking, and adjust as necessary. From here on, it’ll be like an ordinary wine.

    Good luck!

    Erroll

  7. John

    Hi, Erroll.
    I have another question for you about the apple wine. In all your experiences with the creation of apple wine, did your batches (or any of them) simply not get a “head” on them during primary fermentation? My batch has yet to form one. All my other wines formed a head within the first few hours, but I pitched Montrachet yeast in my apple wine on 9-2-08 and still no head. Curious, I think. It is fermenting pretty vigorously, as when I stir it it fizzes like a shook-up soda. My thought is that the juice doesn’t have whatever (a protein chain?) binds the bubbles together like my blackberries (for example) had. What say you?

    As always, your input and blog are greatly appreciated.

    Sincerely,
    John

  8. Erroll Post author

    Hello John,

    I’ve had lots of foam on some fermentations and almost none on others, but I haven’t noticed a pattern. It must say something about two fermentations if one is foamy and the other isn’t. I just haven’t thought about it very much until you brought it up. I always focused on questions like, “Is it fermenting?” and “Is the fermentation healthy?”

    I know that homebrewers add crystal malt to aid in head retention. They also strive to keep their equipment and glassware free of soapy residue, either by not using soap or by thoroughly rinsing, because soap can prevent a head from forming. The yeast strain can make a difference, and Montrachet is known to produce more foam than others. So there are some clues, but I don’t think I can say anything definitive.

    At any rate I’m glad you have a healthy fermentation, and I hope you let me know how it turns out.

    Erroll

  9. Ross

    I have made apple wine, from applesauce as well. It came when I was making the applesauce, and got way too much liquid when the apples cooked down. I then added yeast, pectic enzyme and a bit more sugar, and made a beautiful ice wine type.

  10. John

    How I forgot to mention this, I have no idea. Erroll, I hope you will endulge me the opportunity to use your blog space to warn people of a danger I came across when making my apple wine. I can’t remember where I got the suggestion to mix 1/4 tsp of Potassium Metabisulphite with 5 tbsp of water to make measuring the correct ammount for one gal batches easier (1 tbsp solution/ gal. must), but I feel it is necessary that I tell others about the inherent danger in doing so. I was not warned, and it almost cost me my life – literally. I had this solution mixed up and in an air-tight jar for over a month, and being curious to a fault sometimes I decided to see if it had any kind of odor and proceeded to smell the contents. This led to immediate burning in my nose, sinuses, and constriction in my lungs to the point that I thought death was imminent. The nurse at poison control told me that there was a danger that it could consrtict my bronchial tubes completely shut, and they would have to intubate. Fortunaltely, I was given “steam therapy” for about an hour and I obviously pulled through. I hope by this someone else out there will learn from my mistake and be kept from harm. If you decide to make this solution DO NOT BREATHE THE FUMES! They can kill you.

    On a much brighter note, my apple wine has fermented to 13% +/- in only 6 days. I am considering killing fermentation now as it has a rather pleasant sweet taste; racking off the lees and fining. Is there something I don’t know that might necessitate a longer secondary fermentation? I racked it to secondary last night, by the way. My potential abv was 15.5% when I started, but now I don’t know if I want it that high. The sweet flavor it has now is quite desireable to me and to my wife… a quandary, I suppose. My lack of experience is showing, I know. What to do, Erroll? Pot. Meta. and finish/fine? What would you do here?

  11. Erroll Post author

    Hi John,

    Sounds like you had a close call – I’m glad you’re Ok! I actually make sulfite solution like that (I use 5 teaspoons of water per 1/4 teaspoon sulfite, not 5 tablespoons of water). I use this to add sulfite to my wine because it’s easier to measure. I have inhaled the fumes, though not deeply, and thought they were a little irritating. I’ve never had a reaction like yours though. Maybe I, maybe we all, should be more careful.

    For a sweet wine, I would ferment to dryness, then stabilize and sweeten. The thing about sweetening a wine is that you’re adding the yeast’s favorite food, but you don’t want them to eat it. The most reliable way for a home winemaker to do this is to make sure that all fermentation has stopped, then add sorbate and sulfite (not one or the other but both and only after fermentation has stopped) with a boiled-then-cooled sugar syrup.

    I once had a fermentation stick and remain at the same SG (1.020, I think) for three years. I split that batch, stabilizing and bottling half then racking the other half onto oak chips. I’m glad I stabilized before bottling because the oaked half started fermenting again! And no, it wasn’t the oak. I had the oak chips in a 400 degree broiler for 30 minutes before using them. Don’t underestimate your yeast!

    Erroll

  12. Erroll Post author

    Hello Ross,

    When life gives you lemons (or runny applesauce) make lemonade (or apple wine)!

    Erroll

  13. KlovesG

    Hi! We have just moved to a property in Kitsap with very old apple and pear trees (50+ years). We are thinking apple wine and cider but don’t know anything about making it. HELP! We don’t want the fruit to go to waste.

  14. Erroll Post author

    Hi KlovesG,

    First things first – you need a way to juice the apples, and for a large amount of fruit that’s an apple mill and a press. A homebrew shop, like Olympic Brewing Supply in Bremerton, should be able to help you with that.

    Once you’ve got juice, making cider can be as easy as adding a yeast starter and letting it ferment. If you’re new and really pressed for time, you might give the simple approach a shot. Experienced cider makers carefully control the blend of apples they use, and the sugar and acid levels of the juice. You can learn about those things for next year.

    You can also make wine from the juice by scaling up my own apple wine recipe. That will be a little more work, as you’ll have to adjust the sugar and acid before you pitch the yeast.

    Good luck, and please come back to let me know how your cider/wine turns out!

    Erroll

  15. Daleth

    Dear Erroll,
    Greetings… What a gift to find your blog, thank you for being so generous with your knowledge! Like the post above by KlovesG, I’ve got a nearly infinite number of apples at my disposal. I’m sauced, pied, buttered and jammed out. I’d like to wine for a bit instead. I have a wonderful Champion juicer, and can whiz through apples quite well. Would you be willing to share some more specific information on the easiest sweet apple wine I could make, being a first-timer? Also, I dont have any glass jugs. Could I do something dispicable like buy some plastic garbage cans or something? I must sound like an idiot, please forgive me, but everyone has to start somewhere I guess. If you have the time and are willing, please email me.
    Thank you so much, and I hope your latest batch cheers you on these upcoming winter evenings!

    Daleth

  16. John

    Hey, just thought I’d let Daleth (above) know my answer to his question. I don’t mean to step on your toes, Erroll. As you know, I defer to you on all things winemaking, but I happen to have a resource Daleth can use and I figure he would appreciate having it at hand.

    Daleth,

    If I was just starting out like you are, I would not put wine in a plastic trash can. You can get primary and secondary fermentation vessels for cheaper than a trash can anyway. Go to http://www.specialtybottle.com/index.asp?PageAction=Custom&ID=27 and get their cheap-o 1-gal jugs. Then you can locate a local homebrew shop and purchase bungs and airlocks for your secondaries. This is just my suggestion, so take it for what it is. I just think you’d come off cheaper and better off getting the proper equipment. Hope this helps.

    Erroll,
    As always, your blog is greatly appreciated.

    – John

  17. Erroll Post author

    Thanks for the pointer to Specialty Bottle, John. It looks like a good resource, and I’ve just bookmarked it.

    Daleth,

    John’s right about getting proper fermenters. Primary fermenters are often plastic, but always food grade. They’ll typically have a wide opening so you can stir, add fruit, and so on. Secondary fermenters are meant for aging. They usually have a narrow opening and neck to make them easily stoppered and to minimize air contact.

    There is one special case where garbage cans are ok. The gray, white, and yellow Rubbermaid Brute containers are food grade (only those colors and only Brutes – not Roughneck, not any other model). In fact, if you ask for a “primary fermenter” at one of my local homebrew shops, they will sell you a white Rubbermaid Brute. I have one and it makes a good primary fermenter.

    I think this apple wine recipe can be scaled up and is pretty simple. You can substitute sugar for honey (dissolved in water, boiled briefly then cooled) if you find that easier. You’re the second one to ask about sweetening wine recently, and I’ve just sweetened a cherry wine. So, I’m planning a post on how to do that.

    The quick answer is, ferment the wine to dryness and rack off the lees. Make sure the wine has finished fermenting and that there is no sediment (I think its best to do this after it has aged a bit, cleared and is no longer dropping sediment). Prepare a sugar syrup (boiled and cooled) with the amount of sugar you would like to add to your wine. Combine it with sorbate and sulfite, according to the directions on the sorbate that you bought, and add to a clean sanitized secondary fermenter. Rack the wine into this fermenter. Take a specific gravity reading, then wait two months and take another SG reading. If they match, then you’ve done it right and fermentation has not restarted – you can bottle when ready.

    Erroll

  18. JB

    Erroll,

    I’m new to winemaking and tried my hand at apple wine this season. I started with apple wine at 1.10 sg and began fermentation, knowing that I would try to stop fermentation around 1.02 or 1.03 so that the alcohol levels did not get too high and there was some residual sweetness (I was given the juice from a friend who has a commercial winery and I got a batch that was higher in sugar content than the total batch from the winery). At 1.025 sg, I added 2 gm of sulfites to four gallons and once stirred in, I added 8 gm of potassium sorbate. I then moved the wine (a 3 gallon carboy) to my back unheated porch to about 40 degrees. Fermentation stopped and started clearing, but the temp jumped to about 65 degrees yesterday and now fermentation has become active again. My one gallon container is in the fridge and is slowly clearing nicely.

    On the three gallon carboy, I figure I have a couple of options at this point, either try to get the temperature down by putting it in a large plastic tub with ice in it, or I could let it ferment to dryness and then sweeten later. My concern is that if I want to end up with a sweeter wine, that I will need to add more sorbate, but am afraid to do that because of off flavors. I would also prefer to keep the alcohol level lower. Have you experienced this before and if so, do you have any suggestions? I’m at a loss why fermentation would have started again as I was very careful to add the appropriate amounts of sulfites and sorbate. I’m also very careful with sterilization and find it hard to believe that it could be a bacterial fermentation. Could it be malolactic fermentation? If you have thoughts/suggestions for me, they would be greatly appreciated!

    Best,

    JB

  19. Erroll Post author

    Hi JB,

    From your description, it sounds like you added sulfite and sorbate to an active fermentation. They are effective in preventing fermentation from starting (or re-starting), but not in stopping fermentation. That’s why I recommend fermenting to dryness, waiting for the yeast to settle, adding sulfite & sorbate and a boiled & cooled sugar syrup to a new container, then racking your wine into it (leaving most of the yeast behind). Its more reliable and it gives you control over the final alcohol and sugar content.

    I think your two best options right now are to see if you like dry apple wine (I do!) or to ferment to dryness then sweeten, as I described above. I can see why you’d be nervous about adding more sulfite & sorbate, but you will have to stabilize the wine in order to sweeten it. If you decide to make it dry, have patience. Age it for at least one year.

    I think you’ll be able to make a good wine either way. Good luck, and please come back to let me know how it turned out!

    Erroll

  20. JB

    Erroll,

    Thanks! I had placed it into cold stabilization (via a tub full of water and ice) to send the fermentation back into dormancy, but now I will rethink that decision. Maybe I should go for dry apple as you suggest, though I haven’t much enjoyed commercial versions.

    Your advice and the time it takes to give it is greatly appreciated!

    Best,

    JB

  21. Pierre

    hey.

    I was wondering how long it would take the yeast to start fermenting the wine after the yeast was added. I have a 3 gallon container full of apple juice, and it’s not doing anything. I added the yeast a little less that 24 hours ago.

    Now I’m thinking that maybe I put too much sugar into the mix somehow. Is somewhere around 7 cups of sugar + a cup of honey too much?

  22. Erroll Post author

    Hi Pierre,

    To know if you’ve added too much sugar, you need to know the current specific gravity (SG) and your target gravity. I’d guess that your SG is about 1.090 (but you should check it with a hydrometer), which would make an apple wine with about 12% alcohol. Seems about right to me.

    The yeast will take time to get going. How much time? That depends on a lot of things, like how you added the yeast. Did you open the packet of yeast and pour it onto the juice? Or did you rehydrate it first? Did you make a starter? If you added an active starter, you will see signs of fermentation more quickly than if you added the yeast straight from the packet. In any case, 24 hours is not a long time – if there is no activity in three days (from when you added the yeast), then it’s time to fix it. Right now, it isn’t broken.

    Erroll

  23. Angela

    Help I have a recipe for apple wine from just crushed apples, I crushed the apples and added raisins as it says, but the recipe does not call for any sugar or honey is that normal?
    Angela

  24. Erroll Post author

    Hi Angela,

    If you don’t add sugar or honey, like I did above or in my 2008 Apple Wine, you will get less alcohol in your final product (about as much alcohol as beer). In fact, you’ll be making cider rather than apple wine. Cider and apple wine are different, but they are both good.

    I think you can go either of two ways here: follow the recipe and make cider or add sugar/honey to bring the specific gravity up to wine strength (about 12% alcohol or SG: 1.090) and make apple wine. Let me know what you decide and how it turns out!

    Erroll

  25. chris

    i have around 445 gal. of cider ,large wine making glass fermenters,alot of time,and im thirsty. I here from the old timers that it is pretty easy to make an alcoholic beverage from this. my q is are you looking to make a fine wine and are working your way there? It can be very simple cant it ?What about apple brandy?!!

  26. chris

    we planted 60 grape vines also .So a quick turnover is somewhat important because there might be other wines in the mean time. but this cider one is new and i thank you for your knowledge.!

  27. Angela

    Erroll,

    I decided to add sugar but I had actually waited to see what would happen until now since I am really just new at making wine. Within the last couple of days the yeast had already pretty much consumed all the natural sugars in the apples and had stopped working so then I decided it was time to add sugar. The taste seemed actually pretty pleasing (although pretty dry) when I began siphoning the wine. So we shall see if I have made wine in a couple of months or just a mess.
    Thanks for the help!
    Angela

  28. angela

    We are getting ready to bottle our blueberry wine. The last time we did this, we made a simple syrup and potassium (something) to stop further fermentation. (my husband is doing all this-I don’t have all the lingo) Anyway, we can’t find where we wrote down the proportions of sugar/water for the simple syrup. I have looked everywhere and people simply say, sweeten. AGHH! I do not want to trust memory and mess it all up! Please help! ASAP!

  29. Erroll Post author

    Hi Angela,

    Sugar syrup is usually 2 parts sugar (by volume) to 1 part water – it’s ok to vary this if you think you can get away with a little less water (like I did when I sweetened my raspberry wine) or if you need to add a little more water to fully dissolve the sugar. So if you want to add a cup of sugar, dissolve it in half a cup of water.

    Often, you’ll need to measure sugar by weight, so it helps to know that a cup of sugar weighs about 4.4 7 oz.

    Erroll

  30. angela

    Thanks so much. I thought it was a 2:1– but then I thought, was it 1:2? …Aghhhh.

    (I have extra of the sugar stuff. Any ideas what do to with it, so I don’t waste it?)

  31. Erroll Post author

    Glad I could help, but in my haste I mixed up the weight of sugar. One cup (8 fl oz) weighs about 7 oz. Another way of looking at it is that one pound is 2.25 cups. Hope that didn’t throw you off.

    Erroll

  32. angela

    I just measured it. I am helping my husband It’s only to sweeten his blueberry wine. So it’s all to taste. I read somewhere that you don’t have to be perfect on this part (except that you stop further fermentation) He had 2 batches of 17 gallons in each. So I was going crazy! Trying to guage how much we MIGHT need. I ended up just making 16 cups of water and 32 cups of sugar. We had some left over–but that’s better than having to stop the process and make more, wait for it to cool, etc….. I think I”ll save the rest for the next small batch of wine (right behind it) or to make caipirinha’s!

  33. Taylor

    Erroll,
    Love the information on this recipe thread and whatnot. I did notice however that no where online that I can seem to find has anything to do with apple ice wine or apple ice hard cider. I know Canada is the largest producer and that they are frozen. Just wondering if you might have a recipe for it or know a book or site. I love the stuff but wish I could make it.
    Taylor

  34. Erroll Post author

    Hi Taylor,

    Apple ice wine? Hmm. Ordinary ice wine is made by allowing grapes to hang on the vine until it gets cold enough to freeze them. The living cells in the grapes respond to freezing temperatures by getting rid of water, which expands as it freezes. If they didn’t do this, the cells would rupture. That’s exactly what happens when you freeze harvested fruit, and a lot of winemakers take advantage of this to extract juice more easily.

    But when grapes on the vine expel water, the grapes have a higher sugar concentration (same sugar + less water = higher brix). So if grapes are harvested at just the right time, the winemaker can press out a high brix juice. This can be made into high alcohol sweet wine.

    I guess apples would respond to freezing temperatures the same way, but I think they drop from the tree when ripe. That means you can’t decide to let them hang on the tree until it gets cold enough. The timing would have to be exquisite – apples nearly ripe, but not yet falling from the tree, just as the temperature drops below freezing, then run out and harvest. I just don’t think it would work in practice.

    If you wanted to make a high alcohol sweet apple wine, similar to an ice wine, I would suggest raising the brix of apple juice to what you would get from grapes harvested at freezing temperatures. That would be 30 – 35 Brix or 1.290 – 1.1535 specific gravity. This would be difficult to ferment, but that’s how they make ice wine. An easier option would be to raise the sugar for the alcohol you want, ferment to dryness, then stabilize and sweeten to the amount of residual sugar you want. If you don’t have experience fermenting a very high gravity wine, then you really should try the easier option.

    Good luck. Let me know what you decide and how it turns out!

    Erroll

  35. leslie

    Hi all. I really want to try making apple wine. I know pretty much nothing about wine making. I know of a homebrew shop about 45 minutes from me. I need to know everything I will need to make a sweet apple wine, and I also need step-by-step instructions. Your help is very much appreciated. Have a great day, and good luck with everyone’s wine!

  36. Erroll Post author

    Hello Leslie,

    Here’s a simple recipe for apple wine made from juice:

    To each gallon apple juice add three cups boiled-then-cooled sugar syrup (dissolve 3 cups sugar in 1.5 cups boiling water), one teaspoon acid blend, one teaspoon pectic enzyme, and one crushed campden tablet (or equivalent). Sprinkle a packet of Red Star Premier Cuvee, or other wine yeast of your choice, over the must.

    Stir daily. You should notice fermentation in a couple of days. Once it has fermented out (a week or two), transfer to airlocked glass jugs/carboys. Top with other wine, or if you have to, water so that there is no more than one inch of room between the stopper and the wine. In a month or two, you should notice sediment has fallen. Rack into a clean airlocked glass jug/carboy. Add a new crushed campden tablet (or equivalent) every other time your rack.

    When the wine stops throwing sediment, it’s ready to bottle. If you want it sweet, stabilize and sweeten according to your taste. If you just don’t know how much to sweeten, start with 3 tablespoons sugar/gallon of wine.

    You will need:

    a primary fermenter, this is what you put everything in at first. A food grade 2-gallon bucket with a lid (not air tight, just to keep the dust and bugs out) works great for 1-gallon of wine.

    Two secondary fermenters. These are usually glass jugs or carboys that you can close with an airlock. One-gallon jugs work great for 1-gallon of wine.

    Extra glass bottles that you can close with airlocks (wine bottles, beer bottles, and so forth). You’ll need these for wine that doesn’t fit when you rack.

    Racking cane and siphon hose. You should siphon the wine from one container to the next so that it doesn’t splash and pick up too much oxygen.

    A stirring spoon. I like stainless steel because they’re easy to sanitize by boiling.

    No preservative in the apple juice

    It’s very important that the apple juice have no preservatives – look for “pasteurized” and “no preservatives” on the label. If you see “sorbate” or “benzoate” on the ingredients, don’t buy it. It’s not that these things will do you any harm, but they will prevent the yeast from doing their work.

    Does that help?

    Let me know how it works for you,
    Erroll

  37. leslie

    Thank you so much. I’ll give it a try, and I will definitely let you know how it turns out.

  38. Mike

    This is a great site; very helpful to a newbie. One question; is there a reason you add a boiled-then-cooled syrup to the must rather than just adding granular sugar directly and stirring in?

  39. Erroll Post author

    Hi Mike,

    It’s because I’m worried that microcritters might be hitching a ride with the sugar, and I just don’t know enough about granular sugar to say for sure that they’re not.

    There’s another reason that you should dissolve solid ingredients, like granular sugar, before adding them to wine. Fermented wine with dissolved CO2 will give up that CO2 quickly if you just stir it in. It will foam up and spill out of its container. That’s not an issue when you’re preparing the must, but I just wanted to mention it because you sometimes add sugar, or other solids, post fermentation.

    So, if you know more than I do about granular sugar and are satisfied that you’re not infecting the must, then go ahead and stir it in before fermentation. Stir it well, to make sure it’s thoroughly dissolved. Then let me know how it turns out. I’m curious. Not curious enough to risk infecting my wine, but if you’re going to try it anyway …

    Erroll

  40. Mike

    Thanks Erroll. I tried adding granular sugar directly to 5 gallons of homemade crabapple juice to bring the sg to 1.09. Fermentation started quite quickly and within 9 days has slowed and the sg dropped to 1.002, so it looks like a good time to rack it into the secondary fermenter. My plan is to follow your advice and ferment completely before sweetening and bottleing. I’ll let you know how it turns out, but first; another question. When making kit wines, I’ve gone through a “degassing” procedure that involves aggressive aggitation, but haven’t notice you mention it in this forum. Is it necessary, and at what stage of the process do you degas?

  41. Erroll Post author

    Hi Mike,

    Thanks for keeping me up to date.

    If you let your wine bulk age long enough you don’t have to degas. It’s rare for me to bottle earlier than one year, and by that time excess CO2 has bled off. If you want to bottle early, then you’ll have CO2 in your wine and you should degas.

    Hope this helps,
    Erroll

  42. CuAllaidh

    Just thought I’d address the issue raised above of too much sugar. I have a Cyser brewing now that has 3lbs of honey to one gallon of pressed apple cider (here in Canada apple cider is pressed juice of apples, apple juice is the processed crap). That’s it, no acid, no water, no nutrients, just the honey the apple and yeast. Its slow to ferment, and is taking time, but it does ferment well, and I have tasted it and there is definitely alcohol in it.

  43. Erroll Post author

    Hello CuAllaidh,

    Sometimes simpler is better! So if you like how it turns out, then there’s no need to change anything for next time. I would suggest sulfite for even the simplest recipes, though.

    But if you notice some things that could be improved, it makes sense to consider some adjustments. When used wisely, some additions can benefit your wine.

    Nutrient can make fermentation quicker and more reliable. A slow fermentation isn’t necessarily bad – some people even claim that a slow fermentation improves the flavor – but it does mean that the fermenting must is vulnerable to spoilage organisms for a longer time. Also, slowly fermenting musts are at risk of stuck fermentation.

    You can use sugar and acid to bring a wine into balance. This can be anything from adding acid to a dull lifeless wine to adding sugar to satisfy a sweet-tooth.

    Good luck with your cyser. When you finished, please come back and let me know what you think of it. Any problems fermenting to dryness? How’s the balance?

    Erroll

  44. Jenni

    Hi Errol,
    I got a recipe from a guy and im not sure if I did something wrong. I used 6 gallons of apple cider 6 lbs. sugar and a packet of yeast on 11-27-09 then after initial fermentation about 2 weeks I transfered into a glass carboy and noticed that it fizzed quite a bit so I added a couple campden tablets, now I’m on day 25 and it is still fizzing is there anything I can do is the wine junk or is this normal? Any information you could give would be appreciated Thanks Jenni

  45. CuAllaidh

    My Cyser fermented down to a FG of 1.000, quite nice, unfortunately it was my first attempt and I did not have a hydrometer until after I started it so I don’t quite know what the OG was. Its quite dry and may need some added sweetness at bottling. I’ll let you know how it turns out. I found out actually that the cider I used had preservatives in it that definitely hindered fermentation, however I overwhelmed it by adding yeast two additional times and overcame the issue. It is going to require considerable aging I think though to mellow out perfectly.

  46. Erroll Post author

    Hello Jenni,

    It’s hard to say exactly what’s happening from your description, but it doesn’t sound like your wine is bad. It could be that it’s still fermenting (do you have current and original specific gravity readings?). If so, then that’s where the “fizz” is coming from. It may have fermented out, but even so it would be saturated with CO2. In that case, you see the CO2 come out of solution – you might even call it “fizz.”

    You could probably just leave it be for a while, wait for sediment to drop, and then rack.

    When you say, “it fizzed quite a bit so I added a couple campden tablets” it makes me wonder if you are using sulfite regularly. The rule of thumb is to sulfite prior to fermentation, at bottling, and at every other racking at a rate of one campden tablet (or equivalent) per gallon. Personally, I don’t like campden tablets because they’re hard to dissolve, but I measure sulfite powder and use it in every batch.

    Anyway, I think you’re doing fine, and I’d love to hear how you like the finished product.

    Erroll

  47. Erroll Post author

    Good to see you again CuAllaidh,

    I’m glad you were able to overcome the problem of preservatives – well done! It looks like you’re on your way to some nice apple wine 🙂

    Erroll

  48. milo

    This is my second year making apple wine,I use 5 gal kegs,to this I added 1 1/2 pounds of sugar and lavin 1118 yeast starting OG 1.095, FG of 1.010,why would the 1118 stop at 1.010,not upset or anything tastes great put the keg together today and in the kegarator it went. We are going to bottle next week plenty of time to carb. My queston is why did the yeast stop,the wild yeast around here goes that low?

  49. Erroll Post author

    why would the 1118 stop at 1.010

    Hi milo,

    Yeast might stop for any number of reasons: temperature (was there a sudden change? was it always near the low end of the yeast’s tolerance?), nutrients (did you add any?), pH, etc. So without knowing more about your batch, I can’t really say. It sounds like things worked out for you, and sometimes that’s all that matters. But I’m like you – I like to know what’s going on with each batch and get consistent results.

    Erroll

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