Imagine a wine that’s not only fragrant and full-bodied, but also good for your health.
With today’s brief guide to making muscadine wine, we’ll show you how to turn this superfood rich in antioxidants into a rich and rewarding beverage.
Not only does the skin of the muscadine grape contain more fiber than rice bran or oats, but they’re also loaded with vitamin C, calcium, and potassium.
Native to the United States, muscadine grapes are not commercially farmed in the same way as other grapes, and the wine is not as popular either.
Nevertheless, these grapes are still cultivated throughout the Southern states, faring well in warm and humid climates. Ranging in color from bronze and green through to deep, dark purple, these grapes are larger than other grapes employed for winemaking, and they also have very tough seeds and skins.
Maturing as summer turns into fall, these grapes are used for:
- Fruit butter
Muscadine wine is famous as a sweet wine, and the average alcohol content is 10%.
So, how do you set about making muscadine wine at home, then?
I. How to Make Muscadine Wine
When you’re assembling the following equipment, make sure to sterilize it before making your wine.
What You Need
- Brew bin or food-grade basin (1 gallon)
- Plastic demijohns (2, glass or plastic, one of which needs to be 1 gallon minimum) with airlocks and bungs
- Muslin cloth straining bag
- Vinyl siphon tube (3 feet minimum)
- Glass wine bottles with corks and corker (6)
- Large funnel
- Latex gloves
- Acid-testing kit
- Fresh muscadine grapes (3 pounds)
- Granulated sugar (2.5 pounds)
- Red wine yeast, per packet instructions
- Yeast nutrient, ditto
- Campden tablets or boiling water
- Stabilizer like potassium sorbate
What To Do
- Wash the grapes thoroughly and remove them all from the vine. Pay special attention to the little pieces of stalk right at the end of the fruit.
- Pulp up the grapes using a meat tenderizer.
- Boil 3 quarts of water then let it cool down. Add the sugar and stir until it has dissolved.
- Attach the straining bag to the top of the brew bin.
- Pour the grape mix over this, squeezing the bag so extract every drop of juice.
- The liquid should now be dark red and murky in appearance. Pour the water and sugar solution over the top then add the yeast and the yeast nutrient. Stir gently, cover, then leave the mixture to ferment for a week, stirring once a day. The mixture will bubble vigorously for a few days, and then this will settle down. As soon as the bubble stop, this indicates the end of the fermentation process.
- You may still see some foam on top of the liquid at this stage, and there could also be some sediment starting to build at the bottom. Strain the mixture again to remove these pieces.
- It’s now time to transfer your wine into the demijohns. Lay down some towels to protect the area you’re working in. Use the funnel to decant the wine mix directly into the demijohn. If you find the liquid doesn’t hit the neck of the bottle, use some filtered water or bottled water with a teaspoon of sugar in the ratio of one part sugar to three parts water.
- Fit the airlock and the bung, then leave the demijohn in a cool, dark place for a minimum of 3 weeks. By this point, your mixture should resemble wine, bubbling should have stopped, and you should see a clear, ruby red liquid with nothing but the thinnest layer of fruit sediment and yeast.
II. Racking Your Muscadine Wine
Now you’re ready to start racking your muscadine wine. This serves to further clarify the wine.
You rack wine by transferring it from one demijohn to another. This ensures that all those tiny pieces of residue are left behind.
The depth of the color as well as the toughness of the skin of these grapes means you’ll need to rack your muscadine wine at least twice for best results.
If you’ve never attempted racking wine before, it’s not hard. Here’s all you need to do:
- Lift your demijohn filled with muscadine wine onto a table or a flat chair. Try not to disturb any sediment as you move the demijohn. If this occurs, leave the wine standing for a few hours until it settles.
- Place the second demijohn on the floor below, making certain it’s flat.
- Remove the airlock and the bung.
- Lower the siphon tube into the wine. Leave half an inch from the base of the jar, so you’ll leave the sediment behind while sucking up the wine you want.
- Suck the other end of the tube until you get the taste of wine and then quickly pop the end of the tube into the other demijohn. It should fill rapidly.
- Top up your racked muscadine wine with some filtered water and sugar – see above – and then put the airlock back in place.
- Leave the wine in a cool, dry place for 3 weeks more.
- Repeat the above racking process and return the wine to a cool, dry storage place.
III. Bottling Your Muscadine Wine
Rack your wine as often as needed, but you should not need to do this more than 2 or 3 times. Ensure you wait at least 2 weeks between rackings.
Now it’s time to get down to the business of bottling.
In the same way as when you’re racking wine, you’ll need one demijohn filled with wine, and your glass bottles lined up on the floor below.
All you need to do is pop the siphon tube into the demijohn, again leaving half an inch from the bottom of the bottle.
Suck on the other end of your siphon tube until you see the liquid flowing. Now, pour your muscadine wine from the tube into the bottles.
Using a corker and cork, cork then seal your bottles. Add some labels with the date of bottling and the ingredients and you’re almost good to go.
Now for the only hard part about making muscadine wine, though…
Muscadine wine will taste its very best after being left to mature for between 2 and 3 years.
Now, we appreciate this is a very long time to wait, but it will be worth the results.
If you’re impatient, try opening one bottle every 6 months so you can taste and compare the results. You may find it perfectly palatable to drink this wine after a year or so, and we’re not going to try and stop you!
Waiting for at least a year will bring out an incredible depth of flavor, but the richness you’ll experience after 2 years of maturation needs to be tasted to be believed.
Serve alone or with cheese and biscuits.
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