Local wine store temporarily closed? Or maybe you’re looking for a project while. Here’s one: Make wine right at home in your . All you need is supermarket grape juice, proper yeast and sugar, and you’re all set. That’s the theory anyway. And now the time has come to put this crazy idea to the test.
This plan was first dreamed up by intrepid food blogger David Murphy a few years ago. When I read about his revolutionary Instant Pot hack back then, I admit I was skeptical. I was also extremely curious because if his procedure actually works, it’s a game changer for dinner parties, DIY experimentation and possibly lowering my monthly grocery bill.
And now that the, I’m down to try it. Perhaps you will want to, too. Here’s how to get started.
Gather your Instant Pot and ingredients
At the heart of this process is an Instant Pot with a “yogurt” function. Thankfully all but one Instant Pot model (the Lux) have that feature. So chances are, you’re good to go. The main ingredient is grape juice. In this case I went with a 64 ounce bottle of Welch’s concord grape. The next item on the list is 1 cup of granulated sugar, along with one packet of wine yeast.
I must admit I goofed up slightly here. Instead of the recommended red wine yeast, I mistakenly ordered champagne yeast. Of course this isn’t the end of the world: My vino may even turn out better than it would have otherwise. Some among the home brewing community certainly sing the praises of Lalvin EC-1118, which is often used to brew mead, ciders and other fruit-based adult beverages.
Rounding out the list, you’ll need a bleach solution (of over 1,000 ppm) to sanitize your equipment, plus a funnel.
Sanitize the pot
Before you begin, make sure the inner pot of your Instant Pot is germ-free. In an ideal world, you should use a rinse-free sanitizer along with a chemical cleaner designed specifically for brewing equipment. Five Star’s powder brewery wash and Star San sanitizer are good examples.
I used what I had on hand, a spray bottle I had already filled with a bleach solution (1,000-plus ppm). Yes, doing this is risky since bleach is a deadly poison. I don’t recommend going this route, but if you do please take extra care. Make sure your equipment comes into contact with bleach solution for only five minutes. Also rinse all sanitized items thoroughly with water before use.
In my case I sprayed the inner pot plus the Instant Pot lid and silicone gasket. After five minutes, I rinsed these items well with water then hand dried them with a clean towel. You can be sure that I’ll use proper cleaning and sanitizing agents for my next fermentation project.
Prepare for fermentation
Open the juice bottle and remove one cup (8 ounces) of juice. Set this liquid aside and save for later. Next, use the funnel to add the sugar to the juice bottle. Screw the bottle cap back on and shake it for two minutes. The idea here is to dissolve the sugar as much as possible. Now open the yeast packet and add half its contents to the bottle. With the cap closed, give it a few gentle shakes.
Pour the bottle’s contents into the inner pot of your Instant Pot. Don’t forget about the juice you saved. Also add that to the pot.
Initiate the brew
Put the lid on your Instant Pot and lock it into place. Set the steam release valve to Venting. Next press the Yogurt button, then the Adjust button until the light labelled Less is selected. This will command the cooker to run at a lower temperature than its default.
Now you wait
David Murphy recommends a 48-hour brewing time. He also suggests cycling the steam valve of your Instant Pot from open to closed every eight hours. As I write this, I’m 25 hours into the brewing process.
The final step is to transfer the liquid from the pot back into the plastic juice bottle. Before you do that, make sure to properly sanitize, rinse and dry the bottle. You’ll also have to allow for CO2 gas created by any remaining yeast. An airlock gadget can handle that. Store the bottle in a room temperature-stable location away from light. There the wine solution should sit for a minimum of eight days, or as long as a month.
Time will tell
So will I have something that even remotely resembles, and tastes, like wine when it’s all said and done? Hopefully that will be the case. I’ll report back with my results. In the meantime, I still have nine yeast packets left in the fridge. It would be a shame for them to go to waste. I see home-brewed mead, cider, even Klingon Bloodwine in my future.