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Concord Grape Wine Recipe

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Concord Grapes - Not Just for Jelly!

Most Americans eat Concord grapes all the time! They are tasty and versatile, and basically anything you buy from the store that is grape flavored is made with Concord grapes: jams, jellies, juices, spreads, preserves, fillings, baked goods, candies, and much more. However, take a walk down the wine aisle at your local grocery store and you would be hard pressed to find any wine at all made from Concord grapes.

Many of the varieties you find would indeed have been grown in the United States: Cabernet Sauvingnon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel are all popular winemaking grapes grown on the West Coast. However, all of these varieties are transplants. Meaning, they were brought over from various parts of Europe. Mainly from France, Italy, and Spain, these grapes obviously make excellent wine and are highly sought after, but if you want to dig deep into your American roots, you have to try Concord wine.

Vitis Labrusca is so commonly used outside of winemaking because its flavor is so distinctive. It has that taste that we often associate with grape candy and jelly. They are also tasty: plump, juicy, sweet, and perfect for eating! However, many winemakers label the fermented Concord grape’s taste as “foxy” or “too tart”.

We say: nonsense! Many folks have been making delicious wine from Concord grapes for hundreds of years. They are especially helpful if you live in the Midwest where traditional winemaking grapes have trouble growing. If you don’t have Concord grapes growing in your backyard, you can always substitute for Welch’s Concord Grape Juice.

Why don’t you try making a gallon (or two) for yourself this fall and see how you like it!

Concord Grape Wine

Makes One Gallon

Ingredients:

6 lbs. Fresh Concord Grapes
5 pts. Water
3 ¼ Cup White Sugar
½ tsp. Pectic Enzyme
1 tsp. Yeast Nutrient
1 Campden Tablet, Crushed
1 Pack Red Star Montrachet Wine Yeast

Instructions:

  1. Wash your fruit. Remove stems. Discard moldy or badly bruised grapes.
  2. Place fruit in a nylon bag. Press juice from bag into primary fermenter. Try to extract as much juice as possible.
  3. Keep fruit pulp in the nylon bag, tie off the end of the bag, and place in your primary fermenter.
  4. Stir in: water, sugar, pectic enzyme, yeast nutrient. DO NOT ADD YEAST.
  5. Crush campden tablet, add to a ¼ cup of warm water. Add to primary fermenter. Stir well.
  6. Cover your primary fermenter. You do not need to use the lid, a clean towel will do.
  7. WAIT 24 HOURS.
  8. After 24 hours, uncover your primary and take a hydrometer reading. Your starting gravity should read 1.090 - 1.095.
  9. Add yeast.
  10. Cover primary with lid and attach airlock.
  11. Stir every few days. You can take hydrometer readings during this time to ensure fermentation is healthy and active. You can also press the nylon bag of pulp to extract more juice.
  12. When gravity reaches 1.030 (should take 5-6 days), lightly press juice from the bag.
  13. Siphon wine off layer of sediment into a clean secondary fermenter. A clear jug is best so you can watch the wine as it clears.
  14. Cover and reattach airlock.
  15. When fermentation is complete and gravity has reached 1.000 (should take around 3 weeks), siphon off sediment into another clean vessel to continue clearing OR if you are happy with the clarity of the wine, bottle, and place in a cool dark area to age.

You have now done your patriotic duty and created an all American wine using grapes that have grown here since before Columbus. Congratulations and enjoy!

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