Winemakers that don’t have access to plenty of high-quality grapes can make great tasting wine from apples. Simply follow this apple wine recipe and you’ll end up with a very tasty a beverage with ABV of 10-12%. It’s easier than you might think.
You can use any types of green, yellow or red apples (summer or winter). Apples should be ripe and juicy. Mixing different types is okay as it will let you create interesting blends—for example, mixing sour and sweet apples.
- Apples — 20 kilos
- Sugar — 150-400 grams per liter of juice
I don’t recommend diluting juice with water to increase the wine yield. You should worry about the quality over quantity.
Adding water makes sense only when using unripe or very bitter apples (when the taste of juice bites the tongue). But even then you can lower the acidity with a very low amount of water—less than 100 ml per liter of juice. You shouldn’t dilute it in 1:2 or 1:3 ratio.
Apple Wine Recipe
1. Getting apples ready.Don’t wash the apples you picked from trees or ground, as they are covered with wild yeast which is essential for fermentation. If the apples you picked are very dirty you can gently wipe them dry and brush them.
I suggest removing the seeds and core to prevent the wine from becoming bitter. Any damaged fruits should be cleaned from tainted parts.
2. Juicing.The method you’ll choose depends on the type of equipment that you have. I suggest using a juicer if you have one. This way you’ll be able to obtain clean juice with minimum pulp, which will greatly simplify further winemaking.
If you don’t have a juicer you can use a mandolin. You’ll have to squeeze the apple puree (for example, through cheesecloth, which is quite hard, or using a press). In any case, your aim is to get at least a liquid puree.
3. Juice settling.Pour the obtained apple juice (or liquid puree) into a container with a wide neck (a big cooking pot or barrel) for 2-3 days. Tie cheesecloth on top of the neck to protect it from insects. During this time wild yeast will start separating the mixture into two fractions—the pulp (seeds and skins) and simple apple juice. The pulp will form on top of the juice. In order to let wild yeast to get inside you’ll have to stir the mixture with something clean 3-4 times a day for the first 2 days.
On the third day, the pulp will gather in a thick layer on the surface. You should remove it with a stewpot or colander. The container should contain only juice and a 3-5 mm skim. This stage is considered to be completed once the must starts foaming, hissing and emitting a vinegary smell, which implies that fermentation has started.
4. Adding sugar.The amount of sugar required depends on the sweetness of the fruits. The sweeter the juice the less sugar should be added to the apple wine, especially in the early stage. If sugar content will exceed 20% the wine will not ferment well or it won’t ferment at all. In order to prevent this from happening you should add sugar in parts instead of pouring it all at once.
Gross amount of sugar:
Dry apple wine—150-220 grams per 1 liter of fermented juice.
Sweet or dessert wine—300-400 grams per liter of fermented juice.
I suggest you stay within these limits; otherwise, the wine will turn out sickly sweet.
Add the first part (100-150 grams per liter) right after removing the pulp. Just pour sugar into the fermenting juice and stir.
After 4-5 days add the second part (50-100 grams per liter). To do this, you’ll have to remove the air lock, pour off the must into another container, add sugar to it (twice the amount of the must be poured off), and stir. Pour the obtained syrup back into the wine container. Install the air lock back on.
Repeat the sugar adding procedure 1-2 times every 4-5 days, adding 30-80 grams per liter of juice.
5. Fermentation.First, you’ll need to prevent the must from contacting air. Otherwise, you’ll end up with vinegar. I suggest using glass bottles, jars or plastic water bottles.
Now you have to take care of carbon dioxide extraction. It will start generating during fermentation. To do this, you’ll have to install an air lock, which can be manufactured in the following way:
1) Make a small hole in the lid of the container and insert a tube of a small diameter into it (cambric tubing).
2) Place the container end of the tubing as close to the top as possible to prevent it from getting clogged with foam.
3) Submerge the other end of cambric tubing under 2-3 cm of water in a glass.
Now carbon dioxide won’t be able to get into the wine container.
Alternatively, you can tie a medical glove with a small hole punctured in one of the fingers to the neck or buy a factory-made air lock.
Fermentation under a medical glove
A factory-made air lock
Fill the container with the fermenting juice and leave at least 1/5 of its volume free for carbon dioxide and foam.
During fermentation the container should be in a warm dark place (18-25°C); 20-22 degrees is optimal. Apple wine ferments for 30-60 days. Fermentation is over when there are no gas bubbles in the glass of water for a long time (or the glove is deflated), and there’s sediment at the bottom.
Warning! If fermentation lasts for more than 55 days you should pour it into another container leaving out the sediment at the bottom and installing the air lock once again.
6. Aging.The wine obtained in the previous stage is young apple wine which you can drink, but it has a pretty strong smell and taste. These flaws can be fixed by aging the wine. You’ll need another totally squeaky clean and dry hermetic container. At this point, it is very important to prevent any yeast from entering the container. That’s why I recommend washing the container with boiling hot water and then dry it with a blow dryer.
Using the tubing of the air lock pour the apple wine from one container into another. First, pour off the top brightest layers and then the bottom ones. Avoid touching the sediment layer in the process. At this stage, you can sweeten the wine if you want (just add some sugar to taste) or increase its ABV (pour in 40% alcohol or vodka 2-15% of wine’s volume). Increasing ABV will prolong wine’s shelf-life but makes its taste a bit harsher.
Fill the aging vessels with wine to the brim, so that there is no contact with oxygen. Seal them tightly. In case you added sugar during the previous stage you should install the air lock for the first 7-10 days to prevent re-fermentation.
Transfer the wine to a fridge or cellar for aging (6-16°C). Leave it for at least 60-120 days—that’s the optimal time interval which is enough for complete maturation and taste improvement.
During the first 10-15 days, you’ll have to decant the wine by pouring into another container. In time there will be less sediment, and you’ll be able to run filtrations less often. The wine is considered ready when there’s no more sediment build-up or it’s minimal. Bottle the wine for storage and hermetically seal it.
The wine is ready!
You’ll end up with a dark-amber beverage with a smell of ripe fruits. Its shelf life in a cool dark place is up to 3 years. 10-12% ABV (without adding more alcohol).