How to make Apple Wine
Now that you are a dab hand at turning apples into cider, you might consider giving apple wine a try. The basic principles are the same as for cider, you will be fermenting juice, but to make wine we add more sweetness and turn that into more alcohol.
The choices for sweetness are legion. Honey has been used for millenia and gives an amazing taste to the finished wine. Use local apples and local honey and produce a totally authentic ancient brew that your ancestors would have known and loved.
Sugar is chaper and easier and is what most modern recipes call for.
Recipe for Apple Wine
1 gallon freshly pressed apple juice. Try different varieties and mixtures. I find the more acidic apples like bramleys are great for wine. For cider we usually add crab apples, but for apple wine we generally exclude them from our recipies. So, just a gallon of cooking apple juice is fine for a first attempt. (Hint: If you ask around there is almost always a cooker in someone’s back garden or allotment and these trees are almost always so vigourous that the owner will be glad to let you take as many as you need for free.)
2 lbs sugar (granulated is fine. If you add a little brown sugar you can add some caramel flavoured noted to your final wine, but too much dark sugar will taint the flavour).
juice of one lemon (optional)
juice of one orange (optional)
100g sultanas (optional – adds a winey note)
1 tsp Wine Yeast (available online, from specialist shops, some independent chemists or from Wilkinsons stores)
1 tsp Pectic Enzyme (helps remove cloudiness)
Instructions for making Apple Wine
Firstly disolve the sugar into the juice. I usually do this by taking about a pint of juice and gently warm it on the stove and disolve the sugar into that. I then add the sweet juice back to the rest of the gallon which should be in a lidded food grade plastic bucket or wide mouthed carbouy bottle. This method has the added benefit of warming the juice by about 10 degrees which helps the fermentation to get started. Add the juice of lemon and orange. If your apples are particularly sour you can omit the lemon. Some people also add orange zest which seems a fine idea, but I can never be bothered.
You must use wine yeast rather than cider yeast since it is tolerant to higher alcohol levels and will not leave a ‘bready’ flavour in the final wine. Pitch in the yeast and pectic enzyme, give it a stir and leave to go through the fermentation. After 4 days transfer to a demijohn using a syphon and fit your airlock.
Wine takes longer than cider to ferment so be patient. If it is still going after a month there may be a build up of lees at the bottom of the demijohn. If this is getting deep, rack off into a clean demi and allow to continue fermenting. After about 8 weeks (but sometimes up to 16 weeks!) all fermentation should have ceased. The wine can now be bottled and left for 6 months to condition before tasting.
Young apple wine is drinkable, but if you are prepared to wait an additional 2-3 years you will be amazed at the change. Over time it evolves from something that tastes distinctly homemade to a rich, velvety wonderful drink that you would expect to pay good money for in a decent wine shop. Apple wine can really be a genuine alternative to grape wine and your homebrew may well taste a lot better than many of the supermarket grape wines you have been drinking for years.