Category Archives: Apple Wine

If you start with apple juice, raise the sugar content to that of grape juice, and ferment you get apple wine. Use store bought juice for an easy-to-make dry white wine. Or grind and press fresh apples explore different varietals.

Apple Wine Recipe: Surprising increase in acidity

I racked my apple wine on 11/15/07. It analyzed out as:

Specific Gravity (SG): 0.996, pH: 3.56, Titratable Acidity (TA): 7 g/L

So it had fermented out in less than ten days, but the thing that surprised me was the TA. It rose from 5.5 to 7 g/L when I was expecting it to drop. The wine has only just finished fermenting though, so its probably got quite a bit of carbon dioxide (CO2) dissolved in it. That CO2 will give rise to some carbonic acid and a higher TA. I honestly don’t know if that’s enough to explain the high acidity, but I’ll let it be for a while. As it ages, the CO2 will bleed off and I’ll test (and taste!) it again.

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.


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


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.

Bottling Day

I bottled four 1-gallon batches, three meads and an apple wine, yesterday.

2005 Apple Wine

I harvested 13 lb of Liberty apples from my backyard, in 2005, and turned them, along with a gallon of Trader Joe’s Gravestein apple juice, into a batch of apple wine. It’s got a rich golden color, a wonderful aroma, and it’s very smooth with just a hint of apple.

My first mead – with genuine Costco honey!

The meads were each a little different. One of them was part of the first batch of mead I ever made. The fermentation stuck at SG = 1.030, and it was three years old in February 2006. I decided to split the batch, stabilizing and bottling half as a sweet mead, and oaking the other half. It began to ferment again after I racked it onto the oak chips, and by the time I bottled yesterday it was a dry oaked mead that’ll be five years old in February. Even though it was dry (SG = 1.000), it had a lively sweet taste to it, possibly because of the high alcohol content (about 14%, by volume). The aroma was wonderful and powerful.

A mead like Brother Adam used to make

I made the next mead the way Brother Adam made his. He was a monk at Buckfast Abbey, famous for keeping (and breeding) honeybees and making mead. His method was to make it in large batches and age in oak casks for 7 years. He used soft (distilled or rain) water and a mild honey, like clover. He aimed for a lower alcohol content than most – about 8 or 9% ABV – and shunned most additives, though he often used cream of tartar and, for dry meads, “a little” citric acid. He boiled the honey-water mixture for 1-2 minutes and fermented cool (65F – 70F) with a pure yeast culture like Madeira or Malaga.

I didn’t have an oak cask handy (or the honey to fill it, or the space to store it, or …), and I have seen the inside of a rain barrel. So I used tap water and fermented in a plastic pail. I decided that 0.5 tsp = “a little” citric acid for a 1-gallon batch, and I added 1 tsp of cream of tartar. 2 lb of clover honey brought the SG to 1.074, which at about 10% potential alcohol, was slightly higher than the 8-9% I was aiming for. I boiled the honey-water mixture for about a minute and fermented cool with Côte des Blances yeast (I had never heard of Madeira or Malaga). So far, it has aged for a little over 3 years, including 9 months on oak chips. I don’t think I’ll be able to wait seven years!

I thought I could smell, not taste, the oak in this one. It was smooth and I enjoyed it.

A wine-like mead

The last batch of mead was the most wine-like of the lot, and the only one I didn’t oak. I started this one in March 2004 with clover honey from The Honey Store. I added tannin and tartaric acid to make a dry mead with 12% alcohol. The aroma was distinct from the other two; I would say “fresher” and I thought there was a hint of sweetness in the taste.

So now I’ve got twenty bottles of four different wines and meads to enjoy. Time to stop writing and start sipping!