Muscadine season, late summer and early fall, is an occasion in the southern part of the United States. The grapes are harvested, and jams, jellies and wines are made. For some, muscadine wine is the only use of these grapes and enough are harvested for a year-long supply of the alcoholic beverage. While some muscadine grapes are cultivated, most are grown in the wild.
Equipment You'll Need
You can purchase a wine-making kit that has all the needed equipment to make wine from fresh muscadines. Or you can collect items from around your kitchen to use.
You need a brewing vessel. This ranges from a stainless steel stock pot to a 20-gallon stoneware crock. A water carboy also works. You will also need a large colander, a second large stock pot, a potato masher, cheese cloth and an airlock. Airlocks can be as simple as tubing that reaches from below the surface of the wine to a quart jar of water, to a special plastic device that can be placed into a hole drilled in the lid of the crock or a rubber stopper for the carboy. You will also need a long-handled spoon and a ladle.
You'll need approximately 6 lbs. of muscadine grapes for every gallon of wine you plan to make. You will also need 2 lbs. of sugar for every gallon and one package of red-wine yeast for every 5 gallons. Even if you only plan to make a gallon of muscadine wine, you need one full package of yeast. If desired, you can also use yeast nutrient, available at brew shops, but this isn't necessary.
Making the Wine
Wash, stem and mash the grapes using the potato masher. Place the grapes and juice into a large stockpot and cook over low heat for 10 minutes, mashing occasionally. Transfer the grapes and juice to your brewing vessel and allow to cool. Stir in the sugar, making sure that it dissolves and no clumps remain. Let the mixture sit for 24 hours. Add the yeast, cover and attach the airlock. Let the wine ferment for 45 days. Use the ladle to strain the wine through a cheesecloth lined colander. Place the wine back into the brew vessel and add 1/2 cup sugar for every gallon. Ferment for another 30 days and bottle.
Bottles for Your Muscadine Wine
Purchase wine bottles, corks or caps and a bottle capper from your local brew shop or online.You can also use canning jars with clean lids and rings. Clean, empty soda bottles will work as well. Use a length of food-grade plastic tubing to siphon the wine from the brew vessel into the bottles. Keep the end of the tubing off the bottom of the vessel to prevent the sediment from drawing into your wine.
- The Foxfire Book of Wine Making, edited by Lori Gillespie, Kelly Shropshire and Allison Adams, E. P. Dutton, Copyright 1987 by the Foxfire Fund, Inc.
- Making Wild Wines & Meads: 125 Unusual Recipes Using Herbs, Fruits, Flowers & More, by Pattie Vargas, and Rich Gulling, Storey Publishing, LLC; Revised edition, 1999