Making Organic Wine

Wine is one of the few consumable products that are difficult to become certified organic. Per USDA standards, wine can only be labeled as organic if “made from organically grown grapes without any added sulfates”. Sadly, wine made without adding sulfates is highly unsustainable and not financially viable, which means even wines made with 100% organic grapes cannot be marketed as certified organic. Interestingly enough, in blind taste tests a true organic wine is rated higher in taste than traditional wines or wines produced with organic grapes and added sulfates. True organic wines are difficult to find and cost prohibitive, though making them at home is both relatively easy and well worth it to the wine connoisseur.

To make your own organic wine, you will need two pounds of organic red or black grapes, a closet with a steady temperature, a clean cloth, a large bottle, plastic bag, rubber bands, a clean bottle with a lid and a refrigerator. Begin by rinsing the grapes in cold water after picking them off the stems. Be sure not to remove all of the white powder off the grapes, as this is a dormant yeast that aids in the production of the wine. Without the yeast, the wine will not ferment. Next, place the grapes in a blender and pulse until a pulpy liquid is formed. Make sure not to over blend the grapes, as the seeds inside the grapes are needed to make the wine. If a blender is not available, grapes can be mashed by hand. Pour the liquefied grapes into a large bottle and cover the bottle with a plastic bag, securing tightly with a rubber band. This allows for gasses created during fermentation to be kept separate from the wine, and ensures the bottle will not explode from too much pressure.

Place the bottle in the temperature controlled closet (temperature should be kept consistently between 60 and 80 degrees, though a steady 75 degrees is preferable), and leave the bottle for at least two weeks. During this time, bubbles will begin to form in the wine, indicating fermentation. When there are no more bubbles forming, fermentation is complete and the wine can be removed from the closet. Take a clean cloth and place it over a large bowl. Pour the contents of the bottle through the cloth, straining out the seeds and skins of the grapes.

The next step is to taste the wine. If it is to your liking, place the wine in a clean bottle and cover with a lid, refrigerating for at least twenty-four hours before serving. If you want the wine a little stronger, place it in a clean bottle and cover with a plastic bag, again placing it in the closet. Leave it there for three to five days. After this, place in another clean bottle and refrigerate for twenty-four hours. After this, it is safe to consume the wine. However, best results are obtained by placing the wine in a clean, dry environment for at least a month. This allows particles in the wine to settle as well as clarity and taste to improve. Keep a cautious eye on the bottle for forming bubbles. This indicates fermentation is still taking place, and the bottle could explode. After a month, when particles have settled to the bottom of the bottle, strain the wine into another bottle and enjoy the clean, crisp taste of your homemade organic wine.