First off, I have only been brewing for about a year. I am by no means an expert in this field; I just find it relaxing, enjoyable, and rewarding (not to mention money saving). My wife wanted me to brew her a sweet red wine, but I didn’t feel like spending $100 or more on a kit. I knew there had to be a less expensive way to get a quality wine without spending loads of money on a kit. I came up with an idea, researched it, and saw that is was quite simple.
For the Brewing Novice
Acquiring items and ingredients
Step one is to get a one gallon glass jug. It can be one of the old apple cider jugs that you have saved or you can go to your local beer and wine making shop to pick it up. It shouldn’t cost more than a few dollars. You will also want to pick up a package of red wine yeast from the brew shop. That won’t cost more than a dollar or two. In order to prevent contamination during your fermentation, you will also want to buy a one-step sanitizing solution. Personally, I use “Star San” but it doesn’t have to be anything expensive. Next, go to the grocery store and get two of the frozen 100% grape juice concentrate containers. The brand doesn’t matter all that much, just make sure it is 100% juice. Make sure you also pick up a package of balloons.
Once you have all of your items, sanitize and rinse all of the equipment you will be using to make the wine (i.e. jug, spoon handle). Mix the concentrate with water, leaving about two-three inches at the top of your jug for the fermentation to take place. (If you want, you can throw in an extra cup of sugar in to boost the alcohol percentage). After this concentration is stirred, stretch a balloon over the top of the jug so that no air can get out. Next, take a needle and poke five holes in the balloon, as when it starts making alcohol, carbon dioxide will need to escape. Let the jug sit until the balloon is nearly completely deflated, as this tells you that the fermentation is complete. The alcohol percentage will vary depending on the amount of sugar in the concentrate, so drink moderately.
This wine is best to drink the wine shortly after this stage because the yeast is still in the active fermentation process. If you let it sit for too long, the residual sweetness will be consumed by the yeast and turned into alcohol, leading to a dry wine.
If you would prefer to make a larger quantity in a 6 gallon carboy, just multiply your ingredients by five. Although, if you prefer to go this route, you still only need a single packet of yeast, as the yeast will reproduce quickly enough to take over the entire batch.
Good luck on your home brewing. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments section!