In the DEAR MOTHER section of MOTHER EARTH NEWS No. 3, Gary Dunford asked if it's possible to make wine at home without buying $40 worth of equipment. The answer is yes.
I started making wine with stuff I could scrounge while living in a one room apartment in the city. Following are my own Super Simple directions. They're guaranteed to drive dedicated winemakers up a wall but they do produce results. Anyway, they're a beginning and beginnings are the most important part.
You can make wine out of almost any fruit. In fact, you can make it from just about anything that grows. I have used grapes, pears, peaches, plums, blackberries, strawberries, cherries and—my favorite—honey. Honey wine is called Mead. The so-called wine of the gods. It's cheap, easy and good. Here's how:
Get a gallon jug, preferably glass but plastic will do. Clean it out good. Smell it. Someone may have kept gasoline in it. Wash the jug with soap (NOT detergent), rinse with baking soda in water and—finally—rinse with clear water.
Put a pint and a half to two pints of honey in the jug (the more honey, the stronger the wine), fill with warm water and shake.
Add a pack or cake of yeast—the same stuff you use for bread—and leave the jug uncapped and sitting in a sink overnight. It will foam at the mouth and the whole thing gets pretty sticky at this point.
After the mess quiets down a bit, you're ready to put a top on it. NOT, I say NOT, a solid top. That would make you a bomb maker instead of a wine maker.
What you have to do is come up with a device that will allow gas to escape from the jug without letting air get in. Air getting in is what turns wine mixtures into vinegar.
One way to do the job is to run a plastic or rubber hose from the otherwise-sealed mouth of the jug, thread the free end through a hole in a cork and let the hose hang in a glass or bowl of water. Or you can make a loop in the hose, pour in a little water and trap the water in the loop to act as a seal.
Now put your jug of brew away about two weeks until it's finished doing its thing. It's ready to bottle when the bubbles stop coming to the top.
Old wine bottles are best. You must use corks (not too tight!) to seal the wine as they will allow small amounts of gas to escape. The wine is ready to drink just about any time.
You can use the same process with fruits or whatever, except that you'll have to extract the juice and, maybe, add some sugar. You'll also find that most natural fruit will start to ferment without the yeast and will be better that way.
Once you've made and enjoyed your first glass of wine, no matter how crude, you'll be hooked.
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