Posted by Tim Stobbs on January 30, 2013
While surfing around the internet one day I came across an idea on how you can make wine out of frozen juice. Yes, the the stuff you buy in little cans. To which my thoughts were: “You can do that?!?” followed by “I wonder if it is any good.” After all I do make my own wine out of wine kits at home, so I already have all the equipment. Also I happened to have a few extra packets of yeast just sitting around. I saw the makings of a little experiment since I’ve already made my own wine from the sour cherry tree in my backyard and this wasn’t that much different.
I read the instructions online and paid close attention to the warning to ensure you were using 100% pure juice otherwise you will get crap wine. I’m not sure if you buy much frozen juice, but finding juice that is 100% pure juice is actually fairly hard. Yet after looking around I did manage to find some white grape juice (two cans at $1.37 each) and then the other thing you need is a lot of sugar. Total cost was $6.16, so this experiment was mainly going to be my time, but otherwise was cheap to try.
To make the wine is actually fairly easy (beyond the fact you have to ensure you sterilize everything each step of the way). Boil the sugar in equal amount of water and turn it into a syrup. Let cool add in your frozen juice and pour into a food grade container. Check your specific gravity and add water as needed to get to 1.09 specific gravity. Ensure the solution isn’t too cold otherwise you won’t be able to ferment much of anything. Then add your yeast. Cover and check back in a few days to confirm you are fermenting (you will know by little bubbles on top). Now ignore it for a few weeks (likely close to a month) but keep it fairly warm (21C is ok, but ideal is a bit warmer at 24C). Check the specific gravity (should be 1.00 or less) after most of the fermenting has stopped and your yeast has fallen to the bottom of the container.
Then rack the wine from the first container to a second one. Let sit for another few days or even a week to clear. Rack it one last time and then bottle the results (throw out the bottom of the container as it will be cloudy). During the bottling I tried a sip of the wine and yes it was horrible! Yet most high fruit juice wines have a similar problem, you NEED to let them age. So I put the seven bottles I got in the cellar and forgot about them for two months.
Then the big taste testing occurred and much to my surprise it was ok (you need to chill prior to drinking most white wines or those with fruit flavour in them). Yes it lacked some complexity of a commercial grade wine, but frankly, I’ve had worse commercial wine myself. So overall I give the experiment a passing grade, but personally would suggest waiting for three months prior to trying. Also next time I would likely add a few additives to help things along in the complex flavour department.
The nice thing about this process is the ability to create custom blends of wine that you want in small batches. So hard apple cider is a possibility, also a honey wine or cut a white wine with some green tea and a bit of honey. Just about anything you can think of and you can make it. I would caution I would not make a red wine this way. Why? It’s just too hard to make a good red with just frozen juice, you would have lost most of that complex flavour that is essential to a red. So sticking to fruit or white wines would be a good idea.
Yet at the price of less than a $1 a bottle I will give it high marks for value and I will be experimenting again in the future. After all I am a chemical engineer, so to me this entire experiment was fun. I will also say I won’t replace all my wine kits as I rather like my red wine, but this could be a fun way to try new flavours.
So would you ever consider making your own wine from frozen fruit juice? Or do you think I’ve gone off the deep end with this one?