Bailout Blanc: White wine for hard times

Can you really make wine from Welch’s grape juice?

Turn Welch's grape juice and sugar into wine
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.

If you’re still feeling adventurous, why not make wine from seedless table grapes? I made a wine from store bought grapes when they were on sale, and I plan on comparing it to my Welch’s wine.

Ingredients

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.

Ingredient 1-Gallon
quantity
5-Gallon
quantity
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

Sulfite to 50 ppm

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.

Equipment

  • 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
  • Scale

Procedure

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).

Pitch yeast.

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.



Was this helpful?

If you got something out of this article, why not spread the word? You can click any of the icons below to give this page a +1 or share it on your favorite social media. Everyone likes a pat on the back - even me!

64 thoughts on “Bailout Blanc: White wine for hard times

  1. Erroll Post author

    Hi Donna,

    The more kinds of wine I make, the more I realize I haven’t made yet! Watermelon is one that I haven’t tried yet – if you do let me know how it turns out!

    Erroll

  2. Donna Frierson

    Hi Erroll,

    I’ve been make surprisingly delicious wine using your recipe and 100% Apple Juice Concentrate that I get from Aldi at 1.09 a can. It’s even drier than what I make with the grape juice concentrate. I’d like an adapt because it’s been fermenting out at 14% or more because the hydrometer hits the bottom every time – it really packs a punch. How do I calculate the sugar to make the same 6 gallons with say 11% or less?

    Thanks again!

  3. Erroll Post author

    Hi Donna,

    I went back over my notes to see how I calculated the sugar, and I found a boo boo. So I’m glad you asked! The recipe, as I’ve had it up all this time, will make a 14% (give or take) alcohol wine. I can’t say for sure what I was thinking five years ago (that’s when I posted the recipe), but I think I always meant it to be 12% alcohol. Anyway, here is a table of sugar additions for different alcohol targets:

    Target Alcohol 1-Gallon 5-Gallon
    10% 1 lb (425 g) 3.75 lb (1.7 kg)
    11% 1.1 lb (500 g) 4.5 lb (2 kg)
    12% 1.3 lb (600 g) 6.25 lb (2.8 kg)

    Remember that the recipe for 1-gallon of wine will make about 1.5 gallons of must (and the 5-gallon recipe will make 6 gallons of must). I did some rounding to make the measurements easier – I didn’t think too many people would really measure 0.93 lb, for example. But these numbers should get you very close to what you want.

  4. Donna Frierson

    Hey Erroll,

    Thanks so much. This will really help! I did notice yesterday that you had changed your sugar content from the one I had. I really appreciate your quick response because I have 12 cans in the freezer waiting to be set FREE! 🙂 I also appreciate you rounding the numbers – most wine recipes don’t and I just stare at the measurement – I didn’t do well in math as a kid and not better as an adult.

  5. Donna Frierson

    Another aside. The last batch of wine I made, I confused the tannic with the tartaric acid. Didn’t realize it until I poured it into the fermentor – kept thinking, this has never been this dark before but forged on and then looked at the recipe. I bottled it and it tasted fine. Funny thing, I use a clearing agent and it normally takes a week to clear but this stuff cleared in 2 days – LOL!

    One other question. According to your link about sulfites, you use 1 Campden tablet per 1 gallon? So that would be 5 for 5 gallons? If you don’t keep your wine that long 😉 do you still need this much?

  6. Erroll Post author

    You’re very welcome, Donna! As far as sulfite goes, it protects against infection and oxidation. So it really is best to use the recommended amount, even for wine that you wont keep long. And yes, that’s one campden tablet (or equivilent) per gallon.

    Good luck with your next batch,

    Erroll

  7. Donna Frierson

    Hi Erroll.

    Planning to add oak chips to my next 6 gallon batch of Bail Out Blanc. Suggestions on how much and when to add them.

    Your loyal fan,
    Donna

  8. Erroll Post author

    Hi Donna,

    I haven’t oaked Bailout Blanc, but here’s how I would do it:

    • add one once of toasted, sanitized* oak chips to 5 gallons of wine
    • add the oak after fermentation in complete
    • rack the wine off the oak when done**

    * How do you sanitize oak chips? You can boil them in water for 2-3 minutes or soak them in a sulfite solution. When I oaked my mead, I used untoasted oak chips, and combined the toasting and sanitizing steps by broiling at 400° F for 45 minutes.

    ** How do you know when it’s done? A lot of the oak flavor will be extracted in a week or so, but you will get more if you leave it in longer – the best way to know is to taste it regularly and see if you like it. If after two weeks, there isn’t enough oak for your taste then add another 1 oz/5 gallons.

    Be careful. You can always add more, but you can’t take it back out!

  9. O. P. Holder

    I have not been able to make a decent watermelon wine. Don’t know why.
    Is there a good recipe out there?
    Thanks

  10. Stephen

    Erroll,

    First, have always enjoyed (and learned from) your experiments and would love to know what you’ve come up with in the past few years since the blog was updated.

    Second, do you recall your target for TA (and pH if you checked it) of the Bailout Blanc?

    I’ve made this recipe, and another similar recipe at full concentration, and while neither hit quite where I was aiming, they both showed a lot of promise. I am hoping I can improve my results by being less sloppy with yeast and acidity. I’d used EC-1118 (which I used by blind rote for several years), but I see from comments you made elsewhere on this blog that you used 71B, so I will try that next in the hopes it will help with the nose. My acid testing when I last made this was quite primitive, as were my acid calculations; now that I’m in a better position to make use of it, any advice you could give would be helpful and appreciated.

    Third, any ideas on what would make a good red equivalent to the Bailout Blanc? (Dub it “Recovery Red,” perhaps?) My results with Concord were not inspiring, which is a pity seeing how inexpensive Concord and Concord concentrates are.

    Regards,

    Stephen

  11. Erroll Post author

    Recovery Red – I like that 🙂 I tried Concord too, and I wasn’t happy with it either. I bought a cheap red kit off of Amazon – “Italian Red,” from a brand I didn’t recognize. Cheap, easy to make, and nice to have around. I suppose that’s my red equivalent.

    I’ve moved twice in the last few years, and my winemaking has slowed way down. But I’m getting settled in – started a new batch of wine just a few days ago.

    If I were making Bailout Blanc today, I would not add any acid at first. Once the wine had fermented out, I’d test it (and taste it!) to see if it needed more acid. I would aim for a TA of 6 g/L, and taste again. Notes from my last batch (from almost 7 years ago) say that I fined with bentonite before bottling. I tested the TA twice before fining (6.7, and 7.0 g/L) and once between fining and bottling (4.8 g/L). Any one measurement can be off, and that’s what I think happened with that last one. So I would put the TA at about 7 g/L. My notes say it was a good but acidic. That’s why I would aim lower, like 6 g/L.

    As for yeast, I haven’t found that they make as much difference as I thought they would. 71-B is supposed to metabolize some malic acid, and that’s why I used it. Easier to add a little more acid than to neutralize the excess. It’s what I’m using in my current batch (a rhubarb/grape blend).

    Good luck, Stephen! I’d be interested to know how your next batch turns out.

  12. Dave Schratz

    Saw Donna Frierson’s comment saying she uses this recipe using apple juice. I wondered if anyone knows if a certain strain of yeast is better and if the Pectic Enzyme, Diamonium Phosphate, Tartaric Acid and Tannin would be used when using apple juice. These items are new to me, as I used to make a hard cider years ago and but the juice was purchased from a mill and all we did was ferment it. I have been unable to reproduce that beverage and would like a simple recipe for a dry beverage.
    Thank you for any advice!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *