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Concord Grape Wine Recipe

red wine in wine glassThis method is for making Concord grape wine from freshly picked grapes. Vitis Lambrusca cultivar is the scientific name for Concord grape type.

Concord Grape Wine - 1 Gallon Recipe





Wash and de-stem grapes, discarding any less than perfect ones. No green or shriveled ones. Put in nylon mesh bag, tie securely, and vigorously crush grapes over primary, being sure to crush them all.

Preparing for primary fermentation

Place bag of pulp in primary fermenter and add water, sugar, 1/2 tsp. yeast nutrient, and 1 crushed Campden tablet. Stir well to dissolve sugar, cover securely with clean cloth and set aside.

The Campden tablet limits the growth of unwanted (wild) yeast so it needs to sit a while.

After 12 hours add 1/2 tsp. pectic enzyme and recover the fermenter.

Check acid level

Measure acid level (should be between 0.65% and 0.80%) and make any adjustments. This must be done before the yeast is added.

To increase acidity level by 0.15%, add 1 tsp of tartaric acid per gallon.

To increase acidity level by 0.15%, add 1 tsp acid blend per gallon.

To decrease acidity add water. The water/grape ratio specified should have about the right acidity.

Check specific gravity

After additional 12 hours check specific gravity. If not at least 1.095, add sugar and stir until dissolved. Take the temperature of the must and apply temperature correction, if necessary. It should be 70 to 77 degrees.

Add yeast to must

Create yeast starter by adding 1/3 tsp yeast to 1/4 cup tap water (105 deg F). Stir gently, wait 20 minutes, stir again, then add to must. Why 1/3 tsp of yeast? Yeast must multiply and reach a specific density quickly before the must spoils.

Fermenting the Must

Primary Fermentation

Once fermentation starts (12 to 24 hours), add 1/2 tsp yeast nutrient and stir well.

Stir daily (raises yeast from the bottom), squeeze the nylon bag to aid in juice extraction, and check the S.G. When S.G. reaches 1.030 (5-6 days), lightly but steadily press juice from bag. The S.G. should fall every day as the yeast consumes more sugar. The hydrometer cannot measure the amount of sugar left at the end of fermentation (it's about 0.5 to 2%). You would need a sugar analysis kit to find the unfermented sugar.

Secondary Fermentation

Siphon liquor off sediments into sterilized glass secondary and attach airlock. Put sterilizing solution, not water, into airlock so it is half full. (2 oz metabisulfite to 1 gallon water).

Check S.G. after 30 days. If 1.000 or lower, rack into clean secondary and reattach airlock. Put fresh sterilizing solution into airlock.

Should I add sulfites?


Move to cooler area (60 degrees). This helps with clarification. Rack again after 2 months and again after additional 2 months. This is the natural clarifying period when the wine becomes clear.


Used to clarify wine via chemicals. Most red wines do not require much, if any, fining. If so, bentonite treatment usually clears it up. May not be necessary as it alters the taste. Rack after several days. Adding fining chemicals during racking is good because they get dispersed well. Allow to clear using bentonite. Bentonite must be hydrated before using. A dose rate of 1 to 6 grams for a gallon of wine, depending on how cloudy the wine is. 1 tsp. of bentonite weighs 5.4 grams.

Mix bentonite with boiling water and whisk 2 minutes. Let sit in refrigerator for 24 hours. Whisk again and add it to wine. Add bentonite right after racking or during racking so it can be mixed thoroughly with the wine. Let sit up to 2 weeks for the wine to clear.

Stabilizing and Sweetening

Add 1/2 tsp. potassium sorbate and 1 Campden tablet (potassium metabisulfite) to stop fermentation.

Sweeten if desired (1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar syrup per gallon) After stabilizing and sweetening, wait 10 days before bottling so the yeast killed in stabilizing settles to the lees.


Rack into sterilized bottles. Allow to age two years in bottle before tasting. Improves further with additional aging.

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