Easy Apple Wine Recipe: For Leslie

Over a year ago, Leslie asked me for an easy apple wine recipe with step by step instructions. My first reaction was surprise. She posed her request in a comment on one of my apple wine recipes. That one was pretty easy, wasn’t it? I combined some apples from my backyard with some store-bought juice. All I had to do was juice the apples, add that to the juice I already had, measure the specific gravity and the titratable acidity, figure out how much sugar and acid to add, and … oh. Ok, now I remember what it was like when I was first starting out. I went looking for an easy recipe that didn’t make me run tests or figure anything out. So I thought about it for a bit, scribbled down some things I remembered about apples and apple juice, ran some numbers through a calculator, and whipped up a recipe for her on the fly.

I never heard from her and I forgot about the whole thing until I saw some apple juice at Trader Joe’s the other day. I hadn’t made a new batch of wine in a while, so I grabbed it from the shelves on impulse – I was going to make apple wine! Then I remembered.

Since a lot of people miss the conversations in the comments, I decided to update it a little and make it a top level post.

Here is Leslie’s Apple Wine Recipe:

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.

Ingredients for one gallon

This scales up easily. Want to make five gallons? Multiply everything, except the yeast, by five. Three gallons? Multiply by three.

  • 1 Gallon Apple Juice
  • 3 Cups Sugar
  • 1.5 Cups Water
  • 1 Teaspoon Acid Blend
  • 1 Teaspoon Pectic Enzyme
  • 1 Packet Yeast

Equipment 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 that is fermented on skins and/or pulp. An airlocked 3-gallon carboy does the job too, while protecting juice-only fermentation from air. A 6-Gallon Carboy is just the thing for larger batches up to five gallons.

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. Why two? So that you have a place to siphon your fermenting/aging wine into.

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; 14″ is a good size for 1-gallon batches.

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.

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Update 5/23/2011 – Easy Apple Wine Recipe Bottled!

This wine was easy to make. Everything went smoothly and I bottled ten months after pitching the yeast. Using clarified juice meant the wine dropped clear, without fining, very quickly. In fact, I could have bottled at six months. But looks aren’t everything; this crisp dry white has good flavor and I’m looking forward to seeing (and tasting!) how it ages.

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17 thoughts on “Easy Apple Wine Recipe: For Leslie

  1. John Hance

    Very simple, indeed, Erroll. Kudos!

    I too wanted to simplify a recipe for apple wine this year. This time I used two (1.75 liter) bottles of Simply Apple juice (from the makers of Simply Orange juice) which I topped up to 1 gallon with water, chaptalizing with 1 lb. of plain white table sugar. This gave me an O.S.G. of 1093, potential alcohol of around 13% by volume. Added 1.5 tsp of acid blend, 1/2 tsp pectic enzyme, pot. meta. (Campden tablet, e.g.), and yeast nutrient. Stirred vigorously to dissolve the solids, waited 24 hours and pitched Red Star Montrachet yeast (re-hydrated). Six days later I racked it to a secondary (SG was 1002), followed by two more rackings at one month apart each, adding bentonite to the last one. Bottled after the last 30 day period. It was one of the best apple wines I’ve made, and the simplicity just can’t be beat! I’ll definitely be repeating this one for many years to come!

  2. Erroll Post author

    I too wanted to simplify a recipe for apple wine this year.

    Great minds think alike 🙂

    With store bought juice, you get efficient aseptic juicing without having to buy the equipment. That’s something I’ve learned to appreciate when trying to process fruit for home winemaking – it’s usually to large a quantity for home juicers and too small a quantity for grinders, crushers, presses and so forth. I recently dealt with 12 lb of plums and 8 lb of apples. I’m trying to find a way to juice quantities like that quickly with minimal air contact.


  3. Juliet

    I made an apple wine 3 years ago from the apples off our tree in the backyard. I should have rented a press but I didn’t, I spent an afternoon pureeing apples in our blender and then I added water to the 5 gallon mark. I probably had around 20 lbs of apples. It turned out to be one of the most delicious wines I’ve ever had, dry and tart and mmmm! This wine didn’t get a chance to age 🙂

  4. Erroll Post author

    It turned out to be one of the most delicious wines I’ve ever had, dry and tart and mmmm! This wine didn’t get a chance to age

    I love it when that happens! Congratulations Juliet,


  5. Pingback: Blending for Better Wine | Washington Winemaker

  6. Jim

    Hi. I am making my first big batch of true wine now — 6 gallons of this recipe, using Mott’s Apple Juice, and I have a problem. First of all, the juice is pasteurized and lists no preservatives. It does contain ascorbic acid (Vit. C), as all I have seen do.

    Everything was and is meticuluously cleaned and sanitized. The must is in a room that is 70 degrees, in a food grade bucket covered with a clean towel held by a large rubber band.

    I am using Lalvin 71B-1122, purchased from a reputable online supplier. Made must Saturday that read SG 1.100 and around 14% potential alcohol, and smelled delightful, but waited until Sunday to pitch the yeast directly onto the must, as many advise waiting up to 24 hrs after dosing with pot meta. Stirred Monday.

    By Tuesday, no foam at all nor any sign of C02 conversion I could see. There were some smallish bubbles on the side of the bucket. Stirred again and then added yeast nutrient (1 teaspoon/gallon; not called for in your recipe) and a second packet of 71B-1122 to try to establish fermentation.

    Checked this morning (Wednesday) and must looks the same. No foam. I am not completely disheartened about it, as it would take a couple days for a new culuture to establish from my latest efforts to start one. Stirred again. There is a thin sediment coming up from the bottom now when stirred, but it could be the yeast nutrient falling out of suspension. Must still smells great.

    I have read that the 71B-1122 is a low-foaming yeast. My only other fermentation experience came with Hi-C fruit juice and baker’s yeast in a science experiment as a teen a long time ago, and as you can guess, that was quite vigorous. Any chance it could be fermenting without me actually seeing it? I have not taken another SG reading to see if it is indeed falling. Should I?

    Do you have other suggestions? I’m willing to pitch $40 worth of must as the cost of education and try again if I need to, but can this be saved? Or am I just over-thinking it all and I need to be more patient with my yeasties?


  7. Jim

    I took a SG reading last night (Wednesday). It is the same as at the start, not a good sign after over 4 days. I tasted the must. It still tastes sweet with no off tastes, but has lost much of the apple flavor it once had. The fluid is still with no bubbles. I am going to let it ride another couple of days for fun, but this batch looks dead to me.

    By way of trying to figure out what happened, I think I will take about 3/4 gallon of apple juice I still have refrigerated and add sugar, then first rehydrate and then add the yeast, just to see if fermentation will start in it without any pot met. It may be that I was too high with SO2 by using 1/4 tsp pot met per gallon in the big batch, even though I waited ~24 hours before adding yeast. This will test the yeast and sulfite level at the same time.

    I’d like to get some answers about why the must is barren before I invest in my next endeavor. I’d hate to have two bad batches in a row.

  8. Erroll Post author

    Hi Jim,

    Usually, you can sprinkle dry yeast on your must and it will ferment out just fine. There is a small risk that your yeast is bad, and that’s why some people rehydrate (careful when you do this, too-hot water or additives like sugar and you’ll do more harm than good) and make a starter. That’s what I would recommend now, but it sounds like you’re one step ahead of me. Good luck with this batch – let me know how things turn out.


  9. Jim

    Well Erroll, things turned out poured down the toilet. LOL. I am still not sure what happened, but there has to have been a preservative issue, since the must sat at room temp in the bucket for well over 10 days and literally nothing happened, including any wild colonization. It was clear and unfazed as I poured it out, save for the yeast nutrient settling at the bottom.

    I could try this with a filtered cider, rather than an apple juice. There is a brand here that others tell me they have successfully used. I may do a small batch of that, as my primary fermenter is about to move on to a Welch’s concord recipe. I don’t think I’ll try Motts again.

    I bought 5 packets of yeast, and used 2 in trying to start the apple juice. The packet instructs to rehydrate in a cup of warm water first, but I pitched it directly both times. Is there a way to know if the yeast is active in the rehydration stage, or must it be nourished with sugar and a day allowed to elapse in order to gauge activity?

    My grandpa used to make excellent wines using only natural fermentation and zero chemicals so I keep telling myself this can’t be that difficult! Thanks for the encouragement.

  10. Erroll Post author

    I feel for you Jim,

    I’ve had to pour batches down the drain, and it always hurts. I hope you don’t get discouraged – you can make good wine this way.

    To see if your yeast is ok, rehydrate with just water first, then make a yeast starter. I’ve seen activity in hours when I follow this procedure. If you pitch an active starter into a must and nothing happens, then you know it wasn’t the yeast. But if the juice you used said “No Preservatives” on the label, then I don’t know what else it could have been. Any other additions to the must (like a lot of acid)?


  11. Jim

    I added nothing to it other than what I listed. The 1/4 tsp K meta per gallon should have been fine after 24 hours, which was what I waited before pitching yeast. Otherwise, I followed your recipe, except that I added yeast nutrient and some tannin when I tried restarting it. I’m stumped, but 10 days on two pitches with zero sugar conversion was evidence enough to give it up.

    Now, the Motts apple juice said Pasteurized on the label and listed ONLY apple juice from concentrate, water and ascorbic acid (Vit. C) on the ingredients. It did NOT specifically say no preservatives. I believe it did contain a large dose of unlisted preservative, possibly carried into it through the concentrate mix. That’s just my belief.

    I have bought 4 gallons of Indian Summer filtered apple cider (“100 Percent Apple Juice” — not from concentrate — and “Pasteurized”) which I have been assured does ferment by hard cider and wine makers. I am going to try your recipe again in a gallon batch first. If it works, I would like to put up 5-6 gallons of this beginning now for use as a refreshing summer wine. My fingers are crossed!

    I am assuming you can see my email addy, and so if you wish to take this conversation to email, that would be fine with me. I hate to clutter up your blog. Thanks for the encouragement again.

    Oh, one more question: Will your Bailout Blanc recipe also work with Welch’s frozen concord?

  12. Jim

    Erroll, the new 1 gallon test batch is bubbling away, and I found my bonehead newby mistake in the first batch. I added 1/4 tsp k met PER GALLON to my 5 gallon batch. Yesterday I saw on the bag label that 1/4 tsp will treat 6 GALLONS. Yikes. I am sure nothing could ever grow in that mix! Thanks for your help. I am on my way now.

  13. Erroll Post author

    I added 1/4 tsp k met PER GALLON to my 5 gallon batch

    It sucks to lose a batch like that. I guess the silver lining is you’ll never make that mistake again!


  14. Jim

    Quick update, Erroll. I now have the 1-gallon test batch clearing up after a month, and a 6-gallon batch in a carboy secondary 25 days away from reracking. I imagine it might be 3 months before the gallon tester clears up enough to consider bottling. No problem, but I hear you can add more pectic enzyme at racking to make it go faster? Up to 3 tsp/gallon, they say?

    BTW, I used Lalvin 71B-1122 in the 6-gallon batch rather than the Champagne. It was much less bitterly raw out of the primary than the Champagne, so I am interested to compare finished tastes.

    Thanks for your help.

  15. Endres


    I have used Mott’s Apple Juice successfully several times to make apple wine using Lalvin 1122. I used 5 gallons of Mott’s with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Mott’s is pasteurized 100% apple juice with no preservatives. Add the 5 gallons to a sanitized 6 gallon carboy, add cinnamon and aerate vigorously. Rehydrate yeast and pitch. Add air lock. Stand back and let the yeast do their “thing” for 2-3 weeks. Bottle with 5 ounces of corn sugar to carbonate. That’s my method, works every time.

  16. Filbert

    I know this is ancient history by now but….recently I did the same thing that Jim did, to a batch of blackberry. I let it sit for weeks, stirring daily and occasionally sprinkling more yeast on the top, hoping for something to happen. After 29 days it started fermenting. It fermented fully and turned out to be a decent batch.

  17. Gene osyne

    Reminded me of when I used to make Simple and understandable no need for lots of this and that keep it up geno

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