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Muscadine Wine (Maybe)

Just because you find a recipe on a website or blog, does not mean it is accurate, or that it will work as easily as it claims.

I was stoked about all my muscadines this year. We planted two vines three years ago and this is the first year we’ve gotten anything edible from them. I’ve been nibbling on them for the past week, but David picked about a gallon and a half for me to process. They're delicious and much sweeter than my concords.

I had what appeared to be an easy enough recipe from the interwebs.

What You'll Need

  • 6 cups granulated sugar

  • 3 quarts water (filtered)

  • 1 quart muscadine grapes (mashed)

  • 1 (.25-ounce) packet active dry yeast

How to Make It

  1. In a large, cleaned and sanitized gallon-size glass container, dissolve the sugar in the 3 quarts of water.

  2. Mash the muscadine grapes.

  3. Add 1 quart (4 cups) of the mashed fruit to the water and sprinkle the active dry yeast over the top. Do not stir.

  4. The next day, stir the mixture and then stir it every day for a week.

  5. Strain the liquids into another clean and sanitized gallon container with an airlock of some type. Fill with additional water to come up to the top of the gallon container. Let the wine ferment for 6 weeks.

  6. Strain again and bottle in a clean gallon container. Cap lightly for 3 days to allow for any more fermentation to cease.

  7. Cap the bottle and store the wine in a cool place.

Thanks to Amazon, I got what hardware I needed, and picked up sugar and distilled water from the grocery store.

I read over my instructions twice and wrote down the ingredients with proper measurements and headed to the kitchen feeling quite confident. I set to work dissolving the sugar in the water in the jug, as instructed. Then I started squishing my grapes with a potato masher. I now know why stomping grapes is the preferred method. Thankfully, I got a decent arm workout in for the day.

It quickly became apparent I had a problem. I had only 1/3 of the grapes in the jar, and I had run out of room. Of course, I blamed myself for screwing up the recipe. I read it again. Nope. I followed it step by step and my measurements were correct. I consulted the internet for answers (meaning I went to Facebook). I received useless information, followed by some criticism, and then a few helpful bits here and there. I put the helpful stuff together and did the best I could with the first jar. I drained off enough liquid to fit the grapes in the jar and added my yeast. David kept telling me the more sugar you have, the more alcohol you have. Well, now hopefully the worst that will happen is I have ‘lite’ wine. I have since learned I may end up with vinegar, but if I cook it down I can get a tasty syrup.

Either way, I’m hopeful it won’t kill whoever taste tests (David).

On the second gallon I added the sugar first, smashed the correct amount of grapes, and this time removed the peels. I added the grape meat and juice, and then topped the jar off with the sugar water I'd removed from the other jar, and filled it the rest of the way with distilled water and added my yeast. I now have a science experiment brewing on my kitchen counter.

I discovered why recipes from the internet are not always a good idea, as they can be completely wrong, or at the very least, missing vital information.

For some silly reason I never doubted the recipe until it became apparent it was wrong. However, I totally ignored the part about being careful as muscadines are acidic and to take caution handing them. I didn’t wear gloves and I had my hands all in the bowl removing the skins and squeezing juice. I learned quickly what that warning was about as my hands were quite itchy for some time afterwards. At least part of the instructions were right!

The recipe also failed to warn not to fill the jar completely to the top. And from my bread making experience, I SHOULD have known the yeast would rise. When I checked my wine experiment this morning I noticed a rather large pool of some very sticky sugar water all over the counter. I had to carefully ‘unglue’ my jars from the counter.

The jar on the right is the first one I messed up on. It appears to be bubbling so hopefully it’s doing what it’s supposed to be doing. I’m much more hopeful about the jar on the left.

I will now give my experiment at good stir every day for the next week before moving on to Part 2 of wine making.

I’ll update with my progress.

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