Most wines are made from grapes, so it’s only natural to assume that the first few wines you will try to make would be made from our little round friends. There are several wine making grapes in the market today – one of them is the muscadine grape.
The muscadine is known by several different names – Bullace, Southern Fox Grape, and Scuppernong (which is another known name for all muscadine grapes. Species related to it are the following: Summer grape, American grape, California grape, River Bank grape, Fox grape, and the European grape. Wild grapes are mostly found in the southeastern part of the United States, mainly from Delaware to the Gulf of Mexico, Kansas and Texas.
If you don’t have access to wild muscadine grapes, then you can seek out farmer’s markets. The best time would be around mid to late August. (And if you’re lucky, you may just be able to ferment and age enough for Christmas!)
The fruit itself is in small, loose clusters of about 3 to 30 grapes which have tough skins and about 5 seeds in all. It can be from greenish bronze, bronze, bright pink, purple and almost black.
Herein is a simple yet wonderful recipe to make muscadine wine (according to my ever reliable Aunt Sally):
5 to 6 pounds of muscadine grapes, 5 pounds of sugar (or 2 ½ pounds of honey – this will take longer to ferment though), water, 1 packet of wine yeast (champagne variety), funnel, potato masher, 5 gallon jug (plastic or unscratched-from-the-inside glass would do fine, provided it has been cleaned well), airlock.
- Crush grapes.
- Simmer in a little water for approximately 10 minutes to bring out the juice. Mash the grapes to extract the juice while in the process of simmering.
- Stir in sugar while still hot.
- With a funnel, pour the juice in the 5-gallon jug.
- Add water until about three-quarters full.
- Add packet of yeast to the mixture and mix thoroughly.
- Add airlock to the top of the jar. Fill the lock half-full with some water.
- Place the container in a cool dry place. Allow for fermentation to take place for about 30 to 45 days. Do not move from place to place so that the sediments can rest in their proper place based on the amount of time given.
- When the time is right, siphon the wine into bottles, seal, and allow to age for about 30 more days.
Remember to always have a clean environment when starting to make the wine to prevent bacteria from spreading to your mixture.
Have fun and enjoy!