In the DEAR MOTHER section of MOTHER EARTH NEWS No. 3, Gary Dunford asked if it was possible to make wine at home without buying $ 40 worth of equipment. The answer is yes.
I started making wine with stuff I could scavenge while living in a one-room apartment in the city. Here are my own Super Simple instructions. They’re sure to uplift dedicated winemakers, but they deliver results. Either way, they are a start and the beginnings are the most important part.
You can make wine from almost any fruit. In fact, you can do it from just about anything that grows. I used grapes, pears, peaches, plums, blackberries, strawberries, cherries and, my favorite, honey. Honey wine is called mead. The so-called wine of the gods. It’s cheap, easy and good. Here’s how:
House wine recipe
Get a gallon jug, preferably glass, but plastic will do. Clean it well. Feel it. Someone may have kept some gasoline in it. Wash the jug with soap (NOT detergent), rinse with baking soda in water and, finally, rinse with clean water.
Put a pint and a half to two pints of honey in the jug (the more honey, the stronger the wine), fill with lukewarm water and shake.
Add a packet or cake of yeast – the same stuff you use for bread – and leave the pitcher uncovered and in a sink overnight. It will foam in your mouth and it will get pretty sticky at this point.
Once the mess has calmed down a bit, you’re ready to put a top on. NO, I say NO, a solid top. It would make you a bombmaker instead of a winemaker.
What you need to do is find a device that will allow gas to escape from the jug without letting air in. The air entering is what turns wine blends into vinegar.
One way to do the job is to run a plastic or rubber hose from the otherwise sealed mouth of the jug, thread the free end through a hole in a cork stopper, and let the hose hang down in a glass or bowl of water. Or you can loop the pipe, pour in some water, and trap the water in the loop to act as a seal.
Now put your brewing pitcher away for about two weeks until it has finished doing its job. It’s ready to be bottled when the bubbles stop rising.
Old wine bottles are the best. You should use corks (not too tight!) To seal the wine as they will allow small amounts of gas to escape. The wine is ready to drink at any time.
You can use the same process with fruit or whatever, except you will need to extract the juice and maybe add some sugar. You will also find that most natural fruits will start to ferment without yeast and thus be better.
Once you have prepared and savored your first glass of wine, however raw, you will become addicted.
Originally published: September / October 1970