Category Archives: Welch’s Wine

Welch’s Wine: Cheap, quick, and surprisingly good

Welch's WineI just bottled this wine made from concentrated frozen Niagara grape juice – yep, wine from Welch’s grape juice. With good winemaking technique, you can turn this humble ingredient into a crisp dry white wine that’s surprisingly good and perfect for summer.

From a starting gravity of about 1.090, it fermented out to 0.992 and I did not sweeten. I know a lot of people will want to sweeten, but I advise against it. Mainly because it’s very good as a dry wine, but also because I’m afraid that sweetening will bring out a “grape juice” flavor. In fact, if you’re making fruit wine and want it taste more of raspberries, strawberries, or whatever you made it from, sweetening will bring some of the that fruit flavor out. That can be a good thing, but not in this case.

It’s acidic, with titratable acidity (TA) of 7 g/L and pH of 3. It may not look like it from the numbers, but this dry acidic wine is easy to drink – even at five months old.

How much does Welch’s wine cost?

From time to time, the concentrate goes on sale for $1/can. When it does I buy 12 cans, add about 6 lb (2.75 kg) of sugar and water to six gallons (23 liters). This gets me at least 5 gallons (19 liters) of finished wine. Here are the details:

Cost of Welch’s wine
Quantity Unit Cost Total
12 cans concentrate 1$/can $12
6 lb sugar $0.50/lb $3
25 corks $0.35/cork $8.75
Total $23.75

Less than $1/bottle! To simplify, I didn’t include the cost of yeast, acid, or nutrient. They would add a tiny bit to the cost. Using cheaper closures (bag in a box, crown caps) would push the cost down.

Every winemaker should make Welch’s wine

Keeping yourself stocked up on Welch’s wine means never having to worry about topping up. Come up a little short on today’s racking? Pop open one of these.

You can also use a wine like this to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth from other wine. Store bought or homemade, they all should pass this simple test. Is it convincingly better than this $1/bottle wine in a blind tasting? If not, then why spend $10 on that Chardonnay or $150 on that high end kit? Don’t get me wrong; some will be better, but now you’ll know which ones.

But it’s a good wine in it’s own right, and that’s the best reason to make it. Crisp but easy to drink, it’s a good simple wine that you’ll want to have on hand.

About the label

When I started making this wine the headlines were pretty dire. This wine went from fermentation to bottle in less than six months and it cost less than 1$/bottle – and that includes 35 cents for the cork. Throw in easy drinking good flavor and you’ve got the perfect wine for hard times. So I decided to call it “Bailout Blanc.”

To label a wine like that, I wanted artwork that conveyed the stress most people are feeling in a lighthearted way. There are lots of way to do that, but Ferrell McCollough’s photo Chris Overworked really stood out. The composition and the post processing come together perfectly, and he was gracious enough to let me use it on my label.

You see a larger photo of the bottle here.

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.


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
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.


  • 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


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.