DUN Tuck In - Taking the time to enjoy the good things

A southern American tradition that is as synonymous with the south as moonshine, biscuits and gravy, and country ham. Learn how to make your own country wine. It's easier than you think. 

What comes to mind when you hear muscadine wine? Does it remind you of the lyrics in a country song? A syrupy sweet drink? Small town USA?

photo courtesy of - Brandon Miller Photography

Muscadine grapes can be found growing wild throughout the southeastern and south-central United States and have an unforgettable flavor. Some say they have a hint of honeysuckle or orange blossom, but to me, the taste is truly unique and unlike anything I've ever tasted. The wine made from muscadine grapes tends to be sweeter than the European-style wines most are familiar with.

If you don't like sweet wines, try this. After dinner, add a huge ice cube to your favorite Old Fashioned glass and pour over some muscadine wine. Find a place to sit, sip, and enjoy as you would any other digestif. Thinking about this wine as a digestif will help turn off your wine brain and allow you to enjoy this beverage.

Ingredients
Makes 3 gallons of wine

18 lbs of muscadine grapes
2.25 lbs of sugar
4 quarts of water
1 tsp pectic enzyme
1 tsp yeast nutrient
3 Campden tablets
1 package of Champagne yeast
1/8 tsp potassium metabisulphite

Equipment
5 gallon food-safe bucket with lid and airlock
Carboy with airlock
Large food-safe spoon
Wine siphon
15 Empty wine bottles with corks
Wine corker
Food-safe mesh bag

Optional

Sanitizing solution
Grape crusher
Bottling wand
Hydrometer
Unused spray bottle

Steps

1. Clean and destem the grapes.

2. Bring the water to a boil and add the sugar.
Stir the water and sugar until combined and remove from heat.

3. Crush the grapes.
We used a heavy-duty potato masher. If you plan to make a lot of wine, you can use a grape crusher. Or, you can do the old Italian thing and stomp on them. They do squirt so watch out.

4. Sanitize everything.
Sanitizing is the most important part of wine making. Use a food-safe sanitizer or a 10% bleach solution. Make sure to get the bucket, lid, airlock, mesh bag, and spoon. Reserve some sanitizing solution in a spray bottle.

photo courtesy of - Brandon Miller Photography

5. Combine the ingredients.
Put the mesh bag in the bucket with the mouth up and fill the bag with the crushed grapes, including skins and juice. Close the bag, and add the sugar water to the bucket. Add the Campden tablets and yeast nutrient. Gently stir to combine.

6. Seal the bucket.
Attach the lid. Fill the airlock with water to fill line and wait 12 hours.

7. Add the pectic enzyme.
Stir the wine with a sanitized spoon. Cover the bucket and wait 12 more hours. At this time, you can check the specific gravity (how sweet the juice is) using the hydrometer. The hydrometer should read 1.090 or higher. If your reading is low, add more sugar water until you reach 1.090.

8. Add the yeast.
After 24 hours, stir with a sanitized spoon and sprinkle the yeast on top of the liquid. Do not stir the yeast into the liquid.

9. Wait.
After 12 hours you will start seeing bubbles coming through the airlock. Stir the mixture and press the bag of grapes back down into the liquid.

10. Stir the wine.
Stir every 12 hours for 5-7 days. You will know it's time to move on when the number of bubbles coming through the airlock has slowed considerably.

photo courtesy of - Brandon Miller Photography

11. Remove the grapes and discard.
Squeeze as much of the juice from the bag as you can. Siphon the wine from the bucket into the carboy using the siphon tube. There will be a lot of sediment on the bottom of the bucket. Make sure not to suck the sediment into the carboy. Attach the airlock and move the carboy to a cool, dark place. Let rest for 30 days.

12. Rack the wine.
After 30 days, remove the wine from the sediment in the bottom of the carboy and return the wine to a clean and sanitized carboy. This is called racking. If you have multiple carboys, this is easy. If not, move the wine to the re-sanitized food-grade bucket, clean and sanitize the original carboy, and return the wine.

13. Rack again.
Rack every 30 days until the wine has cleared. Be sure to leave as much sediment behind as possible.

14. Stabilize the wine.
Add the potassium metabisulphite and rack again. This will kill any active yeast in the wine, preventing the bottles from pushing the cork out or exploding as they age.

15. Sanitize everything again.
After 30 days, clean and sanitize the wine bottles, and sample the wine. Traditionally this wine is on the sweeter side. If the wine is still too dry for your liking, you can back sweeten it by adding a little sugar water solution to taste.

16. Bottle.
Fill the bottles until the wine reaches the neck of the bottle and cork. You can use a funnel and measuring cup, but a bottle filling wand makes this much easier and cleaner.

17. Age the wine.
Store the wine on its side for at least 30 days before trying. Aging the wine for 18-20 months will yield a smoother wine.

18. Enjoy.

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