Can you really make wine from Welch’s grape juice?
Welch’s, or most any brand, of white grape juice is made from Niagra grapes. These aren’t considered wine grapes, and there’s a good reason for that. Still, with proper wine making technique, you can make a crisp dry white from concentrated frozen grape juice that is surprisingly good.
Here’s what you’ll need for a 1-gallon or 5-gallon batch. When I create a recipe for 1-gallon of wine, I aim for 1-gallon of finished wine without the need for additional wine to top up. That means my 1-gallon recipe will make up about 1.5 gallons of must. Similarly, my 5-gallon recipe will yield over 6-gallons of must. Other recipes yield the same volume of must as the expected volume of finished wine. They assume that you will top up the batch with similar wine that you have on hand – that approach drove me nuts when I was starting out! The catch is that you’ll need to have extra containers on hand when you rack. For a 1-gallon batch, plan on having two wine bottles and two beer bottles to hold what doesn’t fit in the 1-gallon jug. For a 5-gallon batch, a 1-gallon jug, a half-gallon jug, and a wine bottle should do it.
|12 oz can frozen grape juice||3||12|
|Sugar||1.3 lb (600 g)||6.25 lb (2.8 kg)|
|Water||1 Gallons + 1 Pint (4.25 L)||4.5 Gallons (17 L)|
|Pectic Enzyme||1.5 tsp||6 tsp|
|Diamonium Phosphate||1.5 tsp||6 tsp|
|Tartaric Acid||2 tsp (10 ml)||9 tsp (45 ml)|
|Tannin||0.25 tsp||1.5 tsp|
|Yeast||1 packet||1 packet|
Make sure the grape juice you buy is really 100% grape juice. There are a lot of fruit cocktails for sale with similar packaging that you should avoid.
Sugar and Acid
I have found the sugar content of concentrated frozen grape juice to be very consistent, so you’re very likely to get a starting specific gravity (SG) close to 1.090 by just following the recipe. It’s best to check with a hydrometer, though, and make necessary corrections up front. I’m less sure about the acid, so please check the titratable acidity (TA) of your must before you pitch the yeast.
- Primary fermenter – at least 2-gallon capacity for a 1-gallon batch, and 10-gallon capacity for a 5-gallon batch
- Long Stirring Spoon
- Racking cane and 6 feet of tubing
- Secondary – either a 1-gallon jug or a 5-gallon carboy
- Smaller containers – a half-gallon jug, a wine bottle, a beer bottle to hold small amounts from one racking to the next
- Measuring cups and spoons
Dissolve pectic enzyme, nutrient, tartaric acid, tannin, and sulfite in a quart (liter) of water.
Sanitize your primary fermenter.
Add frozen grape concentrate.
Bring 3 quarts (liters) water to a boil, take off heat and dissolve sugar, bring back to a boil for one minute, cool and add to fermenter.
Pour the additive solution into the fermenter.
Add 4 gallons (15 liters) water to the fermenter.
Take measurments (specific gravity, pH, and titratable acidity).
Stir the fermenting wine every day, for the next week or two, until it ferments out. Rack to a secondary fermenter (1 gallon jug or 5-gallon carboy) and any other smaller containers that you might need. After that, rack as needed (when it throws sediment) and when it remains clear and dry (specific gravity less than 1.000), you can bottle. I often bottle about six months to a year after pitching the yeast.
How does Welch’s wine taste?
Its hard for me to describe this wine, but how can you not be curious enough to try it yourself? It’s not for special occasions, but sometimes your really do want a wine that goes well with a ham sandwich or chicken McNuggets – cheers!
Update 7/6/2009 – Bottled in six months and surprisingly good!
It’s a crisp white wine that’s easy to drink, and you can make it for less that $1/bottle.
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