Each year we make simple wines using surplus fruit and no added ingredients.
A food grade bucket to start the fermentation in
A clean cloth or tea towel to cover the bucket
An extra bucket
A funnel or jug
Something to mash the fruit with (we use a heavy wooden potato masher)
A strainer (we use a mesh colander)
A carboy / demi john and airlock
A siphon tube
Wine bottles (we get them from the recyling bin, selecting ones with lids attached)
Or you can use other fruit. We have used damsons, other plums, and blackberries although for these we did add some sugar as the fruit was not very sweet.
Clean the fermentation bucket and masher thoroughly and sterilise using boiling water
Put water in the spare bucket (this bucket needs to be clean but not sterilised)
Dip each bunch of grapes into the water and agitate to dislodge any spiders or stink bugs
Put the wet grapes into the fermentation bucket
Pound them with the wooden masher to release the juice. Its easier to add the bunches of grapes in batches and mash them and then add more rather than trying to mash the whole lot at once.
Once you have either run out of grapes or filled the bucket to about 2/3 full (no higher) then cover the bucket with a cloth making sure there are no gaps that fruit flies can enter through and stand the bucket in a warm (room temperature) and convenient place
Stir the mix using a clean wooden spoon at least every 24 hours
After a couple of days or so the mix usually starts to bubble as the yeast starts to work.
Leave the mix to bubble for a few days, stirring occasionally
The bubbling will start to diminish and the liquid needs straining off.
Thoroughly clean and sterilise with boiling water the spare bucket, funnel or jug, strainer and demi john / carboy and air lock.
Strain the liquid into the clean bucket, discarding the fruit and stems.
Decant the liquid into the carboy and put the air lock on (with water in it)
Leave at room temperature to ferment further
When fermentation has stopped thoroughly clean and sterilise using boiling water the bottles and siphon tube.
Siphon the wine into the bottles leaving the lees (the yeasty, cloudy liquid at the bottom) in the demijohn
Cap and label the wine bottles
We jar up the lees and use in soups, stews etc. as a flavourful addition.
We have made some very pleasant wines using this simple method. Occasionally we get it wrong and it turns vinegary in which case we have some wine vinegar. It is very important not to use the same buckets for wine and vinegar making though so we label our buckets to avoid confusing them.