Oh! Summer wine, why won’t you ever be mine? Isn’t it simply a charming feeling to tantalize your taste buds by taking the first sip of wine?
And if the wine is made entirely at home without using any yeast, that would be even more amazing!
This article is here to show you precisely how to make homemade wine from grape juice without yeast.
Well, when we say yes to “can you make wine without yeast,” we don’t actually mean the absence of yeast in the entire process. It just means that we won’t use any added yeast in the recipe.
Using Grape Juice to Make Wine
Grapes have been historically significant as a core candidate in the wine-making industry. Ever since the early days, when people first discovered fermentation or wine-making, they have been avidly using grapes for the process.
A significant factor contributing to this popularity of grapes in wine-making is the fact that it has a substantial amount of naturally occurring yeast on its surface or skin.
So, when the internal grape juice seeps out and gets in contact with the yeast, it automatically initiates the biochemical reaction for fermentation.
Before jumping into making wine, we need to gather a little knowledge about natural fermentation and wild yeast.
Natural Fermentation of Wine
Alright, a brief history lesson. The concept of natural fermentation dates back to 1863 when Louis Pasteur first held experiments to find what makes alcohol from fruits.
The process of fermentation was not known then, and people were used to the natural phenomenon of fruits rotting into wine.
It was only when Pasteur first found the process and indicated yeast to be the mastermind behind it.
Soon after that, industrial wine production became a common practice, and the wine economy boomed.
Nonetheless, wild strains of yeast were still utterly popular among homestead breweries.
The presence of wild yeast on the surface of fruits, like grapes, made it possible to ferment them at home without using specialized equipment.
Today, we’re going to explore how to ferment grape juice without adding any industrial yeast strain.
Rather we’re going to utilize natural fermentation and bring out the best possible results.
Wild Yeast? What’s that? How Does That Work?
Yeast is basically a single-celled microbe (a type of fungi, to be more precise) that’s omnipresent, meaning you can find it on almost every organic surface.
Be it any food, drink, or biodegradable material, a minimal amount of yeast is naturally present on its surface.
This versatile microbe is one of the core players when it comes to the game of natural fermentation.
Yeast contains most of the essential juices (or enzymes) needed to initiate the wine-making process.
In the case of grapes, the outer layer of fruit has a layer of natural yeast similar to Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
This amount is usually enough to kick off fermentation and start making alcohol from it. In the absence of oxygen, the yeast consumes sugar content inside grapes and converts it into alcohol & CO2.
You can actually see the yeast in action by observing the bubbles fizzing up when you pop open a bottle of wine.
The quality of wild yeast also complements the overall flavor and texture of the wine. The better the yeast, the better the wine!
On the other hand, too much alcohol is detrimental to yeast activity.
As the yeast continues consuming fruit starch and sugar, the level of alcohol increases. This, in turn, prevents the yeast from working any further.
Since wild yeast cannot tolerate alcohol levels after a certain amount, there is a cut-off point where fermentation stops. So, there’s a certain level up to which wild yeast can ferment and not anymore.
How to Make Grape Wine Without Yeast?
Enough about the facts and theories behind how to make wine from grapes without yeast; let’s jump into the process. Get ready to make your hands mushy with juicy grapes!
Essential Ingredients for Grape Wine
This list is a bit too obvious. But hey, just for the sake of the recipe, we’re adding it here. Have a look.
- Grapes (obviously!).
- Added sugar or honey (for extra benefits).
Equipment & Utensils
Frankly speaking, a lot of the items in this list are fairly optional.
Making wine without yeast requires nothing more than a big jar and the fruit to ferment. Nonetheless, here’s a list for you to follow.
- Large glass or ceramic jar (to use as fermentation chamber).
- Small piece of muslin fabric and rubber bands (for covering & straining).
- Ladle (for stirring).
- Airlock (optional but advised).
- A smaller jar that fits the airlock on its mouth (again, optional but advised).
- Wine bottles with corks (to store the wine).
- Sanitizer (strongly advised for a better result).
Homemade Grape Wine Recipe
Alright, now that we have all our ingredients and equipment ready, let’s get down to it. We’ll explain all the itsy-bitsy details of how to make homemade wine without yeast.
Step 01 – Sterilize
Apply light sanitizer over all your equipment and utensils. This makes sure that no unwanted bacteria or microbe is present within the fermentation process that might disrupt the wine’s taste. DO NOT sanitize the grapes, though!
Step 02 – Crush the Grapes
Take the large glass or ceramic jar you’re going to use as the fermentation chamber and place all the grapes inside. Now it’s time to get your hands dirty.
Use your hands or whatever means necessary to crush the grapes completely.
This will bring out all the sugary juices and extracts from the grape flowing outside and in contact with the wild yeast.
Repeat the process until you feel that the grapes have been crushed reasonably enough.
Leave the stems within the jar as they contain a compound called tannin. Tannins help in achieving a better wine texture.
Step 03 – Add Sugar or Honey
If you’re having trouble getting the wild yeast to start fermenting, adding a few helping hands is always a good idea. But that doesn’t mean that we’ll add extra yeast.
Adding a teaspoon of organic honey and sugar will work as excellent organic catalysts for the wild yeast and help kick-start the process.
Step 04 – Cover and Wait
Use a piece of fine muslin cloth or something similar to cover the moth of the jar. Secure it further using rubber bands.
If you see bubbles forming after a while, you’ll know that the wine-making process has begun. Remember to wipe off any excess bubbles or molds that form on the sides of the jar.
Additionally, you can stir the mixture using a ladle after certain intervals.
A few times throughout the entire day should be enough. Be careful not to disturb the process too much as it might disrupt the yeast activity.
Step 05 – Transfer
Once you see the bubbling recede after a few days, the fermentation has possibly come to a halt. It’s time to transfer and age the wine.
Use the muslin cloth to strain the wine and transfer it to a smaller jar.
This will sieve out any fruit mass and leave you with pure grape juice wine. Make sure to squeeze the grape skins after sieving to get all the wine out.
Step 06 – Airlock (optional)
Using an airlock is like the most extra thing to do while making wine at home. Nonetheless, it brings an additional punch to the flavor profile that you simply can’t overlook.
Place the airlock on top of the smaller jar. The fermentation process produces alcohol and CO2.
Having an airlock installed will let this produced CO2 escape from the jar while not allowing any external oxygen to enter. This will prevent your wine from getting ruined by unwanted oxidation.
Step 07 – Age, wait, taste!
Now’s the time to wait and put your patience to the test. As the old saying goes, aged wine is the best wine!
So, the only thing you can do now is to wait and let the wine age for at least a week or two.
Take a sample taste of the wine after that and see if it fits your liking. If not, leave it for a few more days and then repeat.
Once you’ve achieved your desired taste profile, pour the wine from the small jar to your preferred wine bottles and cork them up. There you have it, Bon Appetit!
Benefits of Making Homemade Wine from Grape Juice Without Yeast
Now that you’re well-versed in how to ferment fruit into alcohol without yeast, we can move on to the benefits of making such wines at home. Let’s have a look.
- It uses no additional yeast and has a unique flavor profile.
- Free from any extra ingredients, preservatives, or additives.
- Develops flavor over time, unlike commercial variants.
- It’s a truly geographic wine that’s native to a regional wild yeast species.
Drawbacks of Making Homemade Wine from Grape Juice Without Yeast
Homemade wine definitely has its perks. But that doesn’t mean that the process has no drawbacks or cons. There are numerous cases where wine-making at home might not actually be very suitable. Here’s why:
- The outcome is unpredictable since you don’t know how wild yeast will act.
- The presence of bacteria can ruin the entire fermentation process.
- Unprecedented formation of vinegar may occur instead of wine.
- Pre-existent chemical pesticides can hamper the flavor and texture of the wine.
Storing Homemade Wine
One of the most overlooked facts in the entire process of making homemade wine without yeast is the storage of wine.
But it suffices to say that more than half of the taste of wine depends on how well it has been stored and aged.
No matter how well-made the wine is, it’ll all be ruined if you can’t store and age it properly.
Now storing homemade wine isn’t that difficult either. You just have to make sure that the wine doesn’t come in contact with direct sunlight or heat. Preferably, a wine cellar or basement cabinet is best suited for the job.
Leave the filled & corked wine bottles in a dark, damp place for at least a few weeks. In some cases, months or years of aging brings in the best wine results!
Some Tips & Tricks for Homemade Wine
Making grape wine at home might be easy, but there are certain caveats to the process. Here are some nifty tips and expert opinions about what to do and what not to do.
Get Wild Grapes instead of Processed Ones
As we said, the entire process of making wine from grapes without added yeast depends a lot on the presence of wild yeast.
So, evidently, if you can use wild grapes from a vineyard or orchard, it will be better than buying them from a store.
That leaves a higher probability of wild yeast being present on the grape skin compared to the processed and packaged grapes found in grocery stores.
Don’t Use Grapes to Ripe or not Ripe Enough
Grapes that are either too ripe or haven’t ripened enough contain an inadequate amount of sugar. That means the yeast involved in the process of wine-making won’t have enough “food” to ferment.
As a result, the wine could end up tasting really bland or downright tasteless.
Don’t Wash the Grapes Before Making Wine
This tip is as rudimentary as it can get. If you somehow ended up washing the grapes just before putting them in your fermentation container, you can bid farewell to good wine.
Washing the grapes with running water means removing most of the wild yeast present on their skin. As a result, there won’t be enough yeast to complete the wine-making process.
Use Honey or Sugar as an Additive
Achieving natural fermentation can often be a tedious task while making wine without yeast or sugar.
Especially due to so many factors concerning wild yeast, the grapes often don’t become wine but get degraded instead.
So, a good tip to follow is to add some honey or sugar to the blend.
Organic extracts from these natural compounds help the yeast present in the mixture work a bit more efficiently. And as a bonus, you’ll get a slightly sweeter aftertaste from your wine too!
FAQs on How to Make Homemade Wine from Grape Juice Without Yeast?
Is grape wine healthy?
Answer: Grape wine is an excellent source of antioxidants and can help tackle heart diseases.
Some sources claim that it has anti-cancer properties and can help extend your lifespan too.
Nonetheless, it’s advised not to overindulge in any form of alcohol. Limiting consumption to half a glass a day is enough to harvest all the health benefits of red wine.
Why is yeast used in all types of alcohol?
Answer: Yeast is a common ingredient in all forms of alcohol (including spirits or brews) because of its fermentation capacity.
A natural property of yeast is to consume sugar and convert it into alcohol & CO2. Just expelling this excess CO2 from the blend effortlessly leaves you with naturally brewed liquor.
How to make alcohol from fruit without yeast?
Answer: You won’t need any added yeast from external sources if you follow the process we described to make wine.
But it doesn’t mean that there is no yeast involved at all. Wild yeast that’s naturally present on the surface of the grape skin comes into play here and initiates fermentation.
How long does homemade grape juice wine last?
Answer: The sole difference between homemade grape juice wine and commercial brews is the presence of preservatives.
If somehow, you can include commercial preservatives such as Sulfites in the blend, it can last for more than five years.
However, homemade organic brews with no additives usually last for about a year or so if stored under cool, dry temperatures. It’s only after the 3-year mark that homemade grape juice wine starts losing flavour.
Cheers, Mi Amigo!
So, there you have it – a quick and easy guide on how to make homemade wine from grape juice without yeast. Hopefully, you’ve had a fun read and learned the recipe for making grape juice wine at home.
And maybe you’ve picked up a few tidbits about natural fermentation along the way.
Anyway, we hope you can now enjoy sipping from a glass of your very own homemade wine.
We wish you all the very best and cheers, or as the Japanese people like to say – Kanpai!
You can read how to make juice from red grapes.