Tart, light, and still, Apple wine is the type of drink you sip on a warm summer afternoon or with a freshly baked cake and the company of your close buddies.
Nonetheless, it’s not that easy to prepare. Complexity is not in ingredients or the process, but in the actual recipe since most of them out there are either for cider or apple beer. While beers and cider are sweet and delicious, they don’t come any close to the smooth consistency and subtle fruitiness that genuine apple wine offers.
With this recipe, you will be able to prepare traditional, refreshing and delicious apple wine right in your home.
What Equipment Will You Need?
Following list is not specific to the making of apple wine. The equipment below can help you make any type of flower, herb or fruit wine. We’d therefore recommend to consider to invest in high quality pieces.
- Food grade sterilized fermenting (brewing) bin with at least a gallon capacity. The white bucket on the left side is food grade plastic container with the capacity of 5 gallons. You can use it for almost anything and you can get it for as cheap as $39 on the market today.
- 2 demijohns from glass and more than 1 gallon in capacity.
- Simply fitted airlock and bung.
- Straining bag.
- Vinyl siphon tube with a minimum length of 3 ft.
- Glass wine bottles, corker and fitted corks.
- Large funnel.
What Ingredients Will You Need?
- Fresh apples (6lbs/2.7 kg)-they need to be unpeeled, fresh and whole, and preferably organic.
- Granulated sugar (3lbs/1.35kg).
- Raisins (1lb/450g).
- Lemon juice / Citric acid (0.5oz/15g).
- White wine yeast or Champagne yeast (amount depends on the chosen brand).
- Yeast nutrient (Read package instructions for proper quantity).
- Campden tablets.
- Hydrometer (Not compulsory).
Quick step by step instructions on making apple wine:
Step 1: Picking Apples
By far, picking apples off their trees is the best method to acquire good and fresh apples. Apples grow and mature with seasons and as such, you should pick them between late spring seasons down to the Winter-depending on your choice of apple variety.
In reality, there isn’t a good or bad apple type for making wine. For those that like sweet wine, go for sweet apples, while for those that prefer dry wine, bitter ones make the cut.
What is important is the quality of the fruit. To help you, check the following preconditions:
- Preferably Organic.
- Well cleaned.
- Unbroken skin (to avoid the risk of a worm or worse, maggots in the wine).
- Minimal bruising (A bruised apple begins to slightly rot, soften and sweeten over time which can alter the taste of both the apple and final product-wine).
Step 2: Preparing your apples
Preparing the apples is amazingly easy-as long as they remain whole and unscratched. Why? As soon as you cut or peel them, they immediately start fermenting and in a matter of minutes, they are down rotting which is, of course, a shame and a loss.
Simply wash them properly and leave them whole until seconds prior to using them.
Step 3: Clearing
As soon as the initial fermentation has fizzled down, follow this by straining off your wine liquid, to separate it from the sediments of apple solids sitting at your fermentation bin’s bottom.
The best way to do this is by use of a muslin sheet it straining bag, properly stretched across either a sieve or colander that is placed on top of a sterilized bowl or pot.
Carefully pour down your liquid into your muslin sheet or straining bag and subsequently squeeze it (straining bag/muslin sheet) to release the most of your wine as you can.
Your wine may still be very cloudy depending on your choice of apple variety. If this remains the case, you can repeat the process by using a fresh muslin sheet or straining bag.
Second Clearing – using a demijohn
Place a funnel on the brim of your demijohn and carefully and slowly, pour your liquid through. Now that every apple solid has been removed, the quantity of your liquid may slightly reduce. In such case, just top it up with a little amount of bottled or filtered water.
Afterwards, tap your bung in place then fix the airlock at the top. Store the demijohn in a dark, cool location away from the reach of direct sunlight.
In the first few initial days, you will see much bubbling taking place in your demijohn – it is known as second fermentation.
This bubbling should cool down after several days. Consequently, a steady fizz stream will replace it, emanating from the demijohn/glass bottle bottom rising to its top.
This will also cool off over time, which will stop the constant gurgling of the top occurring once too often. This is what will indicate to you that you need to prepare for the next phase.
Generally, your wine will need an approximate minimum of 3 weeks to successfully ferment or even more. Don’t rush it though; monitor it until it is completely ripe.
Step 4: Racking the wine
If you carefully assess your demijohn-particularly at its bottom- at this particular point, you will notice a thin sediment layer just sticking around. Those are bits of yeast solids and leftover apple residue. While they are perfectly harmless, they generate a somewhat cloudy wine characterized by a stale mouth-feel, which of course is not what you are after.
To completely do away with them but devoid of losing any flavor present in the wine, you RACK!
Racking simply represents the process of transferring the cloudy wine from one demijohn down to another, to get rid of the sediments. To properly go about it, you will need to first assemble the second demijohn (ensure it is sterilized), plus the vinyl tube. NB: You might also want to place down a towel for this step-it can become somewhat messy.
Begin by placing the wine-filled demijohn right on a flat, but raised surface (can be a chair, table etc). Ensure you do this as slowly as possible. This is to avoid upsetting the bottom-placed sediments in the liquid. Afterwards, place the second demijohn right below the main one on the floor.
Remove both the airlock and bung from the wine, then begin to lower the vinyl tube down towards the demijohn’s bottom, stopping just about half an inch over its bottom.
Take the subsequent end of this tube and suck hard until your wine begins to freely flow through it.
Quickly place the vinyl tube into the other demijohn (empty) and allow it to slowly transfer and fill it up.
When just about all your wine has been successfully racked, you may then slowly begin to cautiously move the vinyl tube further down your original demijohn waiting for the liquid to siphon through-the maximum liquid possible without disturbing the sediments.
On completing this, top up your newly filled-up demijohn using a small amount of bottled or filtered water then add sugar ( a teaspoonful), and subsequently secure the airlock and bung at its top.
Return the liquid back into a cool and dark spot, and allow it to remain undisturbed for an approximate 3 weeks. After that, repeat this entire process again.
NB: If you feel the need, you can repeatedly rack the wine indefinitely, although twice is enough.
In case your wine still appears cloudy, and this is after at least 3 successive racks, add a small amount of pectic enzyme to it-this is to fasten the process of dissolving any stubborn apple solids and residue.
After this, give your wine another period of 3 weeks before you can begin the next step.
Step 5: Bottling
- The process of bottling is quite similar to that of racking.
- Place the demijohn with the wine on a slightly raised but flat platform, with the bottles occupying the floor below.
- Use the vinyl tube in siphoning the wine to the bottles until filled up.
- Finally, seal the wine bottles and label them accordingly.
As soon as you take a sip of your apple wine, you can best believe that it would be last time you purchase typical cider again!
This homemade drink elevates the modest apple fruit by amazingly capturing its innate essence and facilitating it to slowly ferment in its exclusive juices, right before refining into a sophisticated golden juice.