Wine symbolizes celebration and festivals among many Keralites.
Christmas, Easter and many Catholic Weddings are incomplete without sweet tasting wines.
Back Home in Kerala, Wine is usually made using Grapes, Ginger, Pineapple, Chambanga (Rose Apple) and so on. That wine is very sweet unlike the wine which we get in US and most of the other countries. It is not as strong as the Commercial Wines and has a sweet taste similar to grape juice or Dessert Wine. Home Made Wine used to be my favorite drink during Christmas and Easter.
I decided to make Grape Wine for our First Christmas in Charlotte. My friends liked the wine and my friend Hanna had been asking for the recipe for a long time but I was too lazy to write about it. Finally, I made up my mind and here is the recipe for Home Made Grape Wine.
Traditionally, in Kerala, wine is made in a Ceramic Jar called Bharani. Since I didn’t have a Ceramic Jar, I bought a brand new Glass Jar for making Wine. I selected pinkish red color grapes for this wine. You can use any variety of sweet grapes for making wine but red grapes would give a nice color to the wine.
- Seeded or Seedless Grapes – 2 lbs or 1 kg approx
- Sugar – 4 lbs (double the quantity of grapes)
- Water – 4.5 liters (Boiled and Cooled or you can use distilled/purified water)
- Active Dry Yeast – 2 tsps
- Luke Warm Water – 1/2 Cup (for dissolving the yeast)
- Cinnamon Stick – 1 (optional)
- Cloves – 3 (optional)
- Sugar – 1/2 Cup (For Caramelizing)
- Clean the Ceramic/Glass Jar and allow it to sun dry before using it for making wine.
- Boil water and allow it to cool completely.
- Clean and wash the grapes well and remove the stalks.
- Dissolve yeast in luke warm water and keep it aside for 10-15 minutes so that it rises.
- Mash the grapes using a wooden spatula or crush the grapes with your hands. Add half the quantity of sugar (2 lbs) to the crushed grapes and mix well.
- Transfer the crushed grapes and sugar mixture to the ceramic/glass jar. Add the dissolved yeast to the jar.
- If using cinnamon and cloves, add it to the jar. This will give the wine a very nice spicy aroma and flavor.
- Add boiled and cooled water to the jar. Mix everything well. Keep the jar closed and airtight for around 21 days.
- You will notice air bubbles forming on the top when fermentation is taking place.
- Stir the mixture with a wooden spatula every day for 21 days. (Some people stir it on alternate days but I stirred it daily!)
- After 21 days, strain the grape pulp mixture into another vessel using a muslin cloth or a clean unbleached cotton cloth. Add the remaining 2 lb of sugar and mix well. The Wine will be hazy at this stage.
- Keep it for another 21 days so that the sediments settle down and the wine becomes clear. Strain the mixture again using a muslin cloth without disturbing the sediments. If you wish to caramelize the wine, you can do it a few days before straining. My wine had a light pink color because of the grapes I used.
- For coloring the wine, I caramelized sugar and added it to the wine and it changed into a rich golden color. You can add the caramelized sugar to the wine a few days before straining it for the second time from the glass jar. Please refer below for details on coloring the wine.
- Store the wine in clean, dry glass bottles. While serving, pour it carefully without disturbing the sediments. The longer the wine is stored, the better the taste.
Procedure for Caramelizing Sugar
- Take a saucepan and add 1/2 cup sugar.
- Place it on medium heat and keep on stirring continuously till the sugar melts and becomes a dark brown color. Keep scraping down the sides of the pan so that the sugar gets caramelized evenly.
- Remove from fire and place the pan in ice cool water so the sugar doesn’t get burnt.
- Add 4-5 tbsps of hot water to this sugar syrup and mix well. Cool and add the syrup to the wine in the glass/ceramic jar and mix well.
- The wine will attain a darker color after a few days.
- For cleaning the pan after use, add water to the pan and bring it to a boil and throw away the solution.
- I had to keep the wine for 21+21 = 42 days before using it, since it was pretty cold over here in December. But if you live in a moderately hot place like Kerala, wine will ferment quickly and it will be ready in around 21 days.
- Once the wine is fermented, there will be no air bubbles on the top. This indicates that the wine is ready to be strained.
- Some people add egg whites and wheat kernels for quicker fermentation but I didn’t use that for my wine.
- You may skip the spices like Cinnamon and Cloves.
- You can increase or decrease the amount of sugar used to suit your taste buds.