How To Make Bland Wine: Use grocery store grapes

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Wine from store-bought table grapes

I like to experiment. It’s a great feeling when a crazy idea turns into an enjoyable wine. Crazy ideas are unpredictable, though, sometimes they work out and sometimes they don’t. The wine I made from store-bought tables grapes falls into the “don’t” category. What went wrong? Nothing.  I got a balanced dry wine with no faults or off flavors. But its so bland I don’t want to drink it. Sometimes sweetening can tease out a little fruitiness in a wine. I tried that and wound up with sweet bland wine that I still don’t want to drink.

Make Welch’s Wine Instead

If you’re looking for winemaking ingredients at the grocery store, go to the freezer section and buy concentrated frozen grape juice. It’s easier to make wine from frozen concentrate because you don’t have to process the grapes. It’s cheaper too:

Cost of table grape wine
Item Quantity Unit Cost Total
Grapes 20 lb $0.88/lb $17.60
Sugar 20 lb $0.50/lb $17.60
Corks 6 $0.35 $2.10
Total $17.60

I got six bottles, so that works out to just under $3/bottle for bland wine that I don’t like compared to under $1/bottle for a lively, enjoyable Welch’s wine.

Improving table grape wine

I know that some people regularly make wine from Thomson Seedless (Sultana) grapes, and they often cold soak to extract more flavor. If I make this again, I’ll probably do that. Fermenting on the skin, like a red wine, might be worth a try too. Another approach is to add flavorings: vanilla and chocolate extract come to mind. Have you had better luck making wine from grocery store grapes? I’d love to hear about it.

About the label

The best thing about this wine is the label, and I want to thank Mark Hammergren for letting me use his The Truckstop artwork. The idea for putting Lost’s Dharma logo on the wine came to me after I realized I couldn’t rescue this batch. Mark’s take on it combined femininity, humor, and a new Dharma station concept that’s perfect for this wine – thanks Mark!

Update 12/3/2009 – Can I fix it by making mulled wine?

If the problem is bland flavor, then maybe mulling spices will liven it up. Using spices like cinnamon, cloves, and citrus zest (ok, I don’t think zest is technically a spice) in wine, then serving it warm goes back a long way. I’ve never made mulled wine before, so I’m really excited about it – might be a new Christmas tradition for me!

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