Apple wine easy recipe

My apple wine is a bit of a legend in our family. And I reckon it's the major reason why I'm currently thrashing my sons at the weekly session of darts and pool down at The Legion.

Mind you, it's a delicate balance. The right amount with Sunday tea beforehand and the cycle down, matches and wobble back through the quiet lanes of St Ives go like a dream and I return triumphant, making it one of the best possible evening's entertainment. A little too much and the wobble starts in the middle of the matches, I don't stand a chance and it's anyone's guess where I'll end up on the cycle ride home.

So here's the recipe. No chemicals are used, just all natural ingredients other than Milton baby liquid to sterilise equipment. A great Autumn wine to make... if you fancy making a Spring wine you might like to try my dandelion wine easy recipe, or for Summer try my plum wine easy recipe.

I started making this wine for two reasons... firstly its a shame so many apples go to waste in Autumn, and secondly because I was fed up trying to find wine in the shops that didn't have the 'contains sulphites' message hidden away on the back label. Sulphites can cause allergies and a headache.

Every autumn there's an excess of free apples from friends or gathered in the wild. With a bit of organisation, very little effort and a small investment you can make yourself enough sweet white wine to last the whole year. Not sure where to get enough apples? If you don't have any friends desperate to give you their excess have a look around the countryside. Often there are trees along roadsides or footpaths where you can gather the apples for free.

The instructions below are to make five gallons of wine, which will give you just under thirty bottles. It's simpler to make large batches of wine since it's easier to bottle without disturbing the sediment.

The cost of equipment is pretty low... about £35 if you acquire the wine bottles by saving from bought white wine. Thereafter your only cost is for sugar, raisins, lemons and some wine yeast... so having made the initial investment in equipment, typically you're enjoying rather nice, strong wine with no sulphite content for well under 50p a bottle! Why wouldn't you want to do it?

 

Equipment needed

One 5 gallon plastic fermentation barrel with lid

Something for stirring the contents

Milton baby sterilising liquid

Large strainer

Long clear plastic tubing (available from DIY stores)

Funnel

One 5 gallon plastic demijohn

Rubber bung and airlock

30 wine bottles (ideally clear glass)

30 stoppers

 

Ingredients needed

Enough healthy apples to fill the 5 gallon barrel... its best if you can get a mix of cooking and eating apples

Wine yeast

8kg of sugar (adjust this depending on how sweet you like your wine)

1kg chopped golden raisins

The juice of 9 lemons

Small cup of black tea

 

Method

1. Sterilise the fermentation barrel and lid using the Milton liquid.

2. Wash the apples and quarter, place in fermentation barrel until almost full, discarding any bruised bits.

3. Fill with boiling water. It doesn't take all that much since the barrel is so full of apples.

4. Put the lid on and leave for a few days, stirring twice daily.

5. After a few days the apple juice will have seeped out into the water. Strain out the apples and you're left with the apple liquor.

6. Add the sugar, raisins, lemon juice and tea.

7. Top up with part cold, part hot water (so the temperature of the water is lukewarm) to make up to five gallons and stir to ensure all the sugar is dissolved.

8. Add the wine yeast, stir, cover with lid and store somewhere warm.

9. After a few hours you'll notice something starting to happen... there'll be a froth on the surface as the yeast starts to ferment, turning the sugar into alcohol. Stir the contents twice a day.

10. It will take a couple of weeks or so for the fermentation to finish. Once completed transfer the liquid to the demijohn using the plastic tubing and funnel. Make sure all the equipment has been sterilised with Milton liquid.

11. Avoiding disturbing any sediment, place the fermentation barrel at a higher level than the demijohn (e.g. put the barrel on a table and the demijohn on the floor), put one end of the plastic tubing in the barrel, and having placed the funnel in the neck of the demijohn give the other end of the tubing a strong suck to pull some of the wine in the tube up and over the edge of the barrel. Quickly remove your mouth and put the tube end into the funnel. The wine should start to drain.

11. Avoid transferring any sediment if you can. Once all the clear liquid is in the demijohn top up with water to bring to five gallons. Seal with the rubber bung and airlock, having put a small amount of diluted Milton liquid in the airlock.

12. You can now store the wine for months somewhere cool and frost free. At first the fermentation may start up again and you'll see bubbles going through the airlock. Gradually the wine will clear.

13. Once fully clear repeat the draining process, this time from the demijohn to sterilised wine bottles. Put a stopper in each bottle and store.

14. The wine will be ready to drink but will improve even more with age. Typically I bottle and start drinking the wine from May onwards. If the wine is too strong dilute with water.



 

61 comments:

  1. Anonymous8:53 pm

    Hi, this seems to be the easiest recipe that i have found for any wine, as this is only my second go I hope it will turn out O.K. I will let you know how it turns out!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous10:47 am

    this looks a great recipe but how much yeast is needed

    ReplyDelete
  3. You should add the amount of yeast as indicated by the manufacturers on the yeast container.

    ReplyDelete
  4. oststinHi,
    Just a quick question how sweet does the 8Kg of sugar make the wine?

    looking forward to making this @ the weekend :)
    thanks
    Pete

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Pete... Depends how long you can resist drinking the wine. If you drink it within the year 8kg of sugar will give you a pretty sweet wine, so if you'd prefer it a little dryer reduce the sugar.

    If you're able to store the wine for more than a year you'll find the sweetness is toned down and the wine has much more depth. I'd been saving one bottle from 2009 to compete in our St Ives Flower & Produce Show. Having just drunk it I've resolved to keep as much of my 2010 batch as I can til next year, it's just sooooooooo much improved!

    Best of luck, John

    ReplyDelete
  6. Rather than leech the flavour out of the apples into tap water, I prefer to crush the apples and press out the juice for a richer more complex flavour. http://www.howtomakecider.com has some tips on pulping and pressing apples whether for cider or apple wine.

    John is so right about waiting a few years before drinking. 3 years seems optimum form my experience.

    Here is my quality table

    1 year - 20%
    2 years - 70%
    3 years - 100%
    4 years - 90%
    5 years - 80%

    all the best

    Chris

    ReplyDelete
  7. That's really useful Chris... thanks. Never managed to keep my hands off a bottle for 3 years, but your table is enough to encourage me to try.

    I've crushed the apples in the past and agree you do get more bangs for your bucks, but involves a lot more effort & time.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I have made apple wine before and it really didn't turn out successful. To say the least, it exploded and got ditched! So, I thought I'd try it again and this recipe as it sounds really nice.

    I have made Elderberry Wine before and it turned out really sweet. So, I noticed on your ingredients you say to adjust the sugar amount to make it dryer. If I want to make a dryer wine (I am happy to wait for a period of time before drinking it), how much would you suggest to deduct?

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi... I'm just about to try 6kg of sugar on my first batch of 2011 apple wine. If you're able to hold off drinking for two, or even better three years as Chris suggests, this should give you a wine with fine depth and strength. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I made some apple wine last year was disgusting far too swwet and did not taste at all nice! To my eternal regret I threw most out to use bottles for kit wine. Recently tried some and is is great so please learn from my mistakes!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi Ger, thanks for the comment. This is a sweet wine, but as Chris indicates above, if you drink within a year all you'll taste is the sweetness. Leave for a couple of years, even better three, and that sweetness mellows and other tastes come through.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I have been looking for just this kind of recipie for a while now and I was hoping to start a batch this fall.

    I was wondering if you peeled and cored the apples after they were quartered or if you threw it all in, except for the bruises and bad bits.

    Also, did you try pectic enzyme to help break doen the fruit pulp, or is that also a sulfite?

    Thanks,
    Bill, Nova Scotia, Canada

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi Bill... I just cut out the core and any bruised bits. Then just cut the remainder into chunks.

    Nothing is needed to break down the fruit pulp. The juice leeches out pretty easily. Doesn't need any help clearing either, just leave it a few weeks or so after the fermentation bubbling stops. Pectic enzyme doesn't contain sulphites, and although it is a natural product I just try and avoid adding anything that's not needed.

    Hope this helps. Regards, John

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi John,

    I followed your recipe with a couple of batches, the first one is quite sweet (using the suggested amount of sugar or even a bit more) the second seems dryer (used less sugar). I'm noticing that the second batch isn't clearing as well... The first batch is 4 months, clear and being bottled now, but the second batch (only a few weeks younger) doesn't seem clear at all. I followed the instructions with racking, although I did let them both sit in the primary for longer than suggested. Any suggestions to clear it up?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thanks for the comment, Hardy. It's true some batches can take somewhat longer to clear than others. I've never yet failed to have a batch clear so long as I wait long enough. I'd recommend giving it more time... the alternative is to use finings to clear, but I prefer to avoid adding anything unnecessary if I can help it.

    Regards, John

    ReplyDelete
  16. Anonymous2:21 am

    what is 8kg in pounds of sugar and what is 1 kg in pounds of raisins Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  17. I realize this is an old post, but thought I'd add an idea....

    If you want more juice out of the apples and can't be bothered or don't have the kit to crush and juice them, try freezing them first then defrost them before carrying on with the recipe. The freezing and defrosting turns the apples to more of a mush and you can quite easily squeeze more juice out.

    I'm going to try this recipe this week- thanks John, it sounds great!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thanks for the suggestion Rich. Sounds a good idea... I know the plums I've frozen in the past come out all mushy but perfectly fine otherwise. I'll try that.

    Regards, John

    ReplyDelete
  19. Anonymous8:29 am

    Hi with regards to your apple wine recipe, what type of yeast would you recomend for a non champagne finish but just a still table type wine? thanks

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi Harvey… I use Young's wine yeast. Here's a link showing an image of the container, and just about the lowest price I can find. If you're in the UK, Wilkson's stores stock this yeast. Hope that helps.

    http://www.brew2bottle.co.uk/super-wine-yeast-compound-60g.html?gclid=CITB1orxzLkCFYqR3godH0YATA

    Regards, John

    ReplyDelete
  21. Anonymous7:52 am

    Hi John. I'm making apple wine using your recipe. How do I tell when the fermentation is finished? Thanks for your help and a great recipe!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi... I generally wait until a period after the bubbling stops. This can take a while and means if you've overdone the sugar content you can end up with a fairly strong wine that may have to be diluted. I take this approach since I want my wine to be as natural and unaffected by chemicals as possible. You must wait a little while after the bubbling stops to ensure it's completely finished... that is the point where the yeast dies off because of its own by products. If you're too keen problems can occur. For example, if you make the wine heading towards winter and the bubbling stops possibly because of cold weather, if you bottle at that point all your corks will pop come spring when the weather warms up again and fermentation restarts.

      The standard way to stop fermentation is to add crushed Campden tablets. The problem with this is it's the sulphite in Campden tablets that kills off the yeast... see paragraph in above text and link to problems caused by sulphites in shop bought wine. There are other chemicals you can add to do the same job, but again they affect the wine quality of the wine in various ways, such as affecting the taste.

      Yes, it takes some patience and self control to make wine the natural way... but I think it's much more fulfilling as a result.

      Hope this helps, John

      Delete
  22. Anonymous7:45 am

    i was wondering the exact measurement of black tea 12 oz ? i have been making wine for years and i really like the idea of no chemicals and want to give this a try

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi… If you're making a 5 gallon batch then a china tea cup of black tea is sufficient… typically this will hold 7oz. Hope this helps.

      Regards, John

      Delete
  23. Anonymous7:51 am

    Hi,i would like to ask,can you reuse wine bottles with screw tops?

    ReplyDelete
  24. Anonymous8:02 am

    Hi, i would like to ask,can you reuse wine bottles with screw top lids,will they reseal properly?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can reuse bottles with screw top lids, but don't use Milton sterilising liquid to sterilise the tops since they're metal. Put them in a container, pour boiling water over them and leave for five minutes.

      You may find after many uses the seal on a screw top may become less effective. Test by pouring hot water in the bottle and sealing, to see if a vacuum is maintained as the water cools.

      You can use plastic stoppers (available from Wilkinson's Stores) for screw top bottles, although the fit is sometimes a bit tight.

      Hope this helps. Regards, John

      Delete
  25. Anonymous7:17 am

    Hi there
    Thank you for the wine recipes.

    I have just chopped up my apples and poured boiling water over. However, looking through the comments I noticed someone asked you about peeling and coring. You advised them to leave skin on but chop out cores.

    I have only quartered my apples with skin and core all intact. How will this affect my batch?

    Thank you very much.

    Karen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Karen… the bad news is apple seeds contain cyanide and theoretically could poison you. The good news is you'd have to crunch your way through about 143 seeds to do any harm. The hard coating on the seeds means the chemicals don't leach, and even if a small amount did your body can easily cope with small amounts of cyanide since they're present in other foods as well. So nothing to worry about.

      Regards, John

      Delete
  26. Anonymous10:33 pm

    Hi
    where do you get golden raisins and are they going to make a big difference to using ordinary ones?
    Thanks, Rachel

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Rachel... I think golden raisins are just made from white grapes rather than red, so I don't think there'd be any difference in results if you used ordinary dark ones.

      Thanks, John

      Delete
  27. Hi John

    Ive just tried your recipe for the first time. I have chopped apples and added hot water. On day 3 the mix seems to have started fermenting and bubbling and no longer smells like fresh apples. Is this a wild yeast, has it spoilt? Or can I strain the juice and boil it before the next stage to kill off the wild yeast?

    Many thanks Melanie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Melanie... yes, this is the natural yeast from the apple skins and if left would turn the liquid to cider at about 8% proof. Of course you want something stronger than that! The wild yeast won't do any harm. When you think you've just about got all the juice drained out of the apples continue the recipe at point 5 of the method.

      Thanks, John

      Delete
  28. Anonymous6:23 am

    Im going to give your recipe a go but I only have one demijohn. What level of ingredients do you suggest for that please.

    Leigh

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Leigh… your one demijohn should equal one gallon, so just divide the ingredients by five. For the apples, use about enough to fill the demijohn (if you were able to). Follow the directions of the yeast manufacturers… normally one heaped teaspoon per gallon. For the tea, just put in a couple of desert spoons worth.

      Regards, John

      Delete
  29. Anonymous7:33 am

    hi, i,m just making my first ever wine and using your apple wine recipe, i,ve got to the stage where i add the yeast, now, do i close the lid tightly or just rest the lid on the bucket,
    thankyou in advance,
    patsy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi patsy... Close the lid tightly

      Thanks, John

      Delete
    2. thanks john, one more thing, i,ve put everything in now but forgot to chop the raisins!! will it make that much difference,
      patsy

      Delete
    3. They're going to take longer to have an effect, Patsy, if you've not cut them up.

      Delete
    4. hi john, the wine has been fermenting in the bucket for 2 weeks now, its still making a slight bubbling sound so is it ok to transfer to demijohns or should i leave it for a little longer? thanks
      patsy

      Delete
    5. Hi patsy... Sorry for delay in replying. Yes, transfer to demijohns if the bubbling has slowed. Make sure it's stopped altogether before you go on to bottling, otherwise your corks might pop.

      Delete
    6. thankyou john
      patsy

      Delete
    7. sorry, me again john...i transferred to the demijohns yesterday, kept as far away as i could from the sediment, but today i looked at the demijohns and there is a sort of thickish looking sediment floating on the top, should i strain it again or just leave it,
      thankyou in advance,
      patsy

      Delete
    8. No problem Patsy... no matter how careful you are you're going to transfer some sediment into the demijohns. I suspect what you're seeing is the little bit that couldn't be avoided. It should sink down over time, so that when you do the final transfer to bottles the clear liquid is on top. So I'd just leave for the time being.

      Regards, John

      Delete
    9. hi john, everything seems to be going fine with the wine, not clearing much but has only been in the demijohn for 4 weeks, i,ve had a little taste of it and it is very sweet, is there anything i can add to tone down the sweetness please, also would it be ok to draw a bottle full out of the demijohn to drink at xmas,
      thankyou,
      patsy

      Delete
    10. Hi Patsy... It will take much longer to clear. Typically it takes up to 6 months before you can bottle, and that's the earliest I'd recommend you try drinking. But see the table from Chris in the comments higher up. He suggests the taste quality is only 20% after one year, reaching top condition after three years. So this isn't a sloe gin type of recipe, where you can scoff the lot after a few months. The sweetness will mellow and turn into something much more rounded and golden if you can hold off.

      Regards, John

      Delete
  30. Anonymous8:52 am

    Hi John,

    I have just started your apple wine recipe and am about to add the sugar etc but I like a dry wine, do you have any advice on how much suger I should add.

    Regards

    Haydon

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Haydon… that’s a difficult one, since it’s all a matter of taste. Only suggestion I can make is to go easy and test it with less.

      Regards, John

      Delete
  31. Anonymous8:54 am

    Hi
    It is brilliant to be able to contact you - I cannot find any golden raisins - is there an alternative that I could use instead?
    Thank you very much
    Kate

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kate... You can use sultanas, or if desperate, raisins.

      Thanks, John

      Delete
  32. Anonymous7:01 am

    John

    My first attempt at your apple wine seems to be going well.
    I have transferred to a demijohn now but the bubbling seems to have ground to a halt after 3 days of being in it. Is this normal?? Or do I need to do anything else.

    leigh

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Leigh… bubbling may have stopped because you’re storing in cold conditions (OK if you’re prepared to wait until Spring when it may start up again), the fermentation has finished (depends how long you left in fermentation barrel before transferring to demijohn) or you put insufficient sugar in the mix and it’s finished early. Does it smell alcoholic? If so things are probably OK.

      Hope this helps.

      Regards, John

      Delete
    2. Anonymous7:52 am

      John

      I left it in the barrell for 2 1/2 weeks and I did add a little more sugar when I transferred to the demijohn. It does smell like wine allbeit a little fausty. Is it worth me storing somewhere warmer for now then as it is in the kitchen at present. It is still really cloudy though, looks like orange juice only not as orangey.
      I dont mind waiting, you say leave to spring and it may start again, if that is the case when would I stop the yeast and bottle?
      Sorry this is all new to me.
      Oh I have since made some Plum gin so xmas is going to be good :-)

      Leigh

      Delete
    3. Hi Leigh… Because the recipe aims to make the wine as naturally as possible, I don’t artificially stop the fermentation. I just let it run it’s course. You have to make sure all the fermentation is complete otherwise if you bottle too soon your corks will pop if fermentation starts again. So this is a recipe where you need patience, but what you end up with is as natural an apple wine as you can get.

      Sounds like either fermentation has finished, or temperature too low. To make sure I’d move to somewhere warmer and see what happens.

      Good news it’s not going to be too sober a Christmas!

      Regards, John

      Delete
  33. Hello, thanks for the recipe! I am currently in the third week of fermentation everything is going well. I just wanted to ask, what is the purpose of the black tea and the lemon juice. This is my first time making wine, I usually do beer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Michael... the tea adds tannin to the wine. This is added naturally when making a wine with grapes since it's present on the skin of the grapes, but often needs to be added with non grape wines. It's tannin that gives wine it's astringent, slightly dry, taste. Without it the wine might taste a bit flat. The tannin also helps in clearing the wine.

      The lemon juice is added to add crispness to the taste of the wine. It also helps to develop more complex flavours. Grapes contain a combination of malice and citric acid, but apples don't have enough citric acid content. Adding the lemon juice compensates for this.

      Hope the brew goes well! Regards, John

      Delete
  34. Anonymous8:21 am

    thanks for a great site
    i am now trying my first batch of apple wine started today
    i left a comment on the sloe gin recipe i hope that is ok
    thanks again for a great site

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Many thanks for the sloe gin recycling suggestion at the link below. And good luck with the apple wine!

      Sloe gin link : http://allotmentheaven.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/sloe-gin-or-vodka-easy-recipe.html

      Delete
  35. Anonymous9:10 pm

    thanks for this recipe John. I have 2 apple trees in my garden and my wine is just starting to clear. I also have 3 plum trees so plum wine is next (already made plum jam) x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad it's going well. Best of luck with the plum wine later this year!

      Delete

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