Grill Hills

Can I make my own wine out of supermarket grape juice?

Our food expert answers your cooking queries

30 July 2020 - 00:00
Commercially available grape juice can be sickly sweet and may contain preservatives or additives, which means it's not ideal for wine making.
Commercially available grape juice can be sickly sweet and may contain preservatives or additives, which means it's not ideal for wine making.
Image: 123RF/Natthapon Ngamnithiporn

THE QUESTION

I’ve found a recipe online for making homemade wine. It says I’ll need water, sugar, yeast and grape juice. Does this mean I can just use any supermarket grape juice? — Antonia, Johannesburg  

THE ANSWER

The short answer is yes, in theory you can make a DIY wine out of fruit juice, water, sugar and yeast. 

The stumbling block, however, is finding pure grape juice with no preservatives or additives, as some of these may kill the yeast inhibiting fermentation. Commercially available grape juice may also be sickly sweet.

Hence I would advise making homemade wine in the first quarter of the year, when grapes are in their peak season and you can press your own fresh juice.

Another option is to use wine grape concentrate, which you may be able to source from a specialist brewing store. 

If you plan on making wine on a serious level, I recommend seeking professional advice from one of these stores, where you will also find the necessary equipment and preservatives you may need.

Whenever making alcohol at home, remember that hygiene is of the utmost importance; all utensils and containers used must be sterilised beforehand. If at any stage the mixture tastes or smells unpleasant, discard it as it may not be safe to drink.

HAVE A COOKING QUERY? GRILL HILLS

In a cookery quandary, have a problem with a recipe, bogged down by measurement conversions, or baffled by an ingredient? For sound advice, Sunday Times food editor Hilary Biller is at your service. Send your queries to food@sundaytimes.co.za with "Grill Hills" in the subject line. If yours is selected, she'll answer it in an online article.