A fun fermentation experiment!
It amazes me what can become a viral sensation. I guess in this case, making wine in an Instant Pot is kind of appropriate, since the Ottawa-invented Instant Pot has become just that – both a viral and real life sensation. I have to admit I was skeptical when I was asked by CTV Morning Live to recreate blogger David Murphy’s wildly popular Instant Pot wine making experiment, but I was definitely game to give it a try. The biggest difference between his instructions and mine below are that I adapted the quantity of sugar to the size of bottled grape juice available in Canada (ours are 1.36 L whereas in the US they are 1.8 L bottles). You can buy winemaking yeast at numerous shops that sell wine making supplies; I’m sure it’s available online as well. Wondering what else you can do with bottled grape juice? Be sure to check out my grape jelly recipe at the bottom of this post.
- 1.36 litre bottle of Welch’s 100% grape juice
- 3/4 cup (175 mL) granulated (white) sugar
- 1/2 of a 5 gram packet Lalvin Bourgovin RC 212 Wine Yeast
- Instant Pot (must be one with a Yogurt function)
- Liquid laundry bleach to sterilize equipment
- Clean towel
- Measuring cup
- Funnel (stainless steel is best)
- Paper coffee filter
- 2 L canning jar with airlock lid OR packing tape and empty Welch’s juice bottle
- Steam clean your Instant Pot to remove any food odors from the sealing ring. Do this by adding 1 cup white vinegar and 1 cup water to pot. Close lid, make sure vent is in closed position and press Steam. Let run for 3 minutes. Release pressure and wash sealing ring, lid and stainless steel liner in hot soapy water. Rinse well and let sealing ring air dry before reinserting in lid. This can be done ahead of time, and is a great thing to do periodically to your Instant Pot, especially if switching from savoury to sweet recipes.
- Just before making wine, disinfect the Instant Pot’s stainless steel liner by combing 1 tablespoon of laundry bleach with 8 cups (2 L) of water. Wash the funnel you plan to use for this first stage in the same bleach/water mixture (dunk it right in the pot). Swirl around inside for 1 minute then pour out. Rinse liner and funnel with cold water and dry with a very clean towel.
- Open the bottle of grape juice and pour one cup of juice into a clean measuring cup; set the cup aside. Put the funnel in the mouth of the juice bottle then pour the sugar into the bottle. Recap the bottle and shake it vigorously for about 2 minutes to dissolve the sugar.
- Open your bottle of juice again, put the funnel back in and add 1/2 of the packet of red wine yeast Close the lid again and lightly shake back and forth inside of the bottle.
- Once done, pour the juice from the bottle into your sanitized Instant Pot inner pot liner along with the reserved 1 cup of juice. Do NOT throw away your plastic juice bottle.
- Close and lock the lid of your Instant Pot. Press the Yogurt button, and then press the Adjust button as many times as needed to have the “Less” light (on the display panel) illuminated. Using Less heat on the Yogurt function will keep the temperature steady at around 80F or 26.7C. This amount of heat will activate the yeast; if you set it any higher (warmer) you may kill the yeast.
- Start with the pressure vent on the lid in the open position to let the wine breathe in the beginning. As the yeast and sugar work their magic, a lot of carbon dioxide will be produced so after 6 – 8 hours have elapsed, close the vent for 6 – 8 hours. Repeat the open/close cycle for the duration of the 48 hour initial fermentation period.
- For two consecutive days, let the Instant Pot (on the “less” Yogurt cycle) run for 24 hours each day; you’ll need to restart the pot after the first 24 hour cycle (the maximum amount of time for this Instant Pot setting) has completed.
- After your 48 hours has elapsed, it is time to transfer the early stage wine into a secondary fermentation container. Before you do this, follow the bleaching procedure above to sterilize the funnel, ladle and canning jar or plastic bottle.
- Pour the wine through a coffee filter (to catch sediment at the bottom of the Instant Pot) – this is easiest if you set the filter a funnel to transfer it into a sterilized 2 litre canning jar with an airlock and special adapter lid. If you don’t have this equipment, you can just filter the young wine back into the plastic juice bottle. If using the juice bottle, make sure you only put the lid back on the bottle half way – don’t seal it tight or the pressure from the continually building carbon dioxide will blow the lid right off. You can use packing tape (per David’s instructions) to secure the cap loosely in place.
- Place the jar or bottle in a dark, room temperature spot to finish its fermentation. The back of a kitchen cupboard that is not near the stove, microwave, fridge or dishwasher (all of which emit heat) is a good place.
- It is ideal to let the wine sit for a month to finish fermenting, but you can start tasting after 8 days if you want to track how it changes over time.
The verdict: for $4.01 this was a really fun experiment that produced semi-palatable wine. I think it would be a fun way to play around with different flavours, especially if you wanted a wine to use in coolers, spritzers or sangria (hello, peach wine, anyone??).
If you’re curious how my on-air taste testing with the lovely people at CTV Morning Live Ottawa went, you can watch the clip here.
HOT TIPS: If you’re not sold on wine making, there are a couple of other great uses for bottled grape juice, including making popsicles or adding it to smoothies. My favourite tasty thing to can make with bottled grape juice is delicious jelly – and it’s super easy too! Here’s how:
Easy grape jelly
- 2 cups (500 mL) Welch’s 100% grape juice
- 3 1/2 cups (875 mL) white sugar
- 1 pouch liquid pectin
- Wash four one cup (250 mL) jars in hot soapy water; rinse and transfer to a 200F oven to sterilize.
- Put canning lids in a saucepan of boiling water and then set aside.
- Bring the grape juice and sugar to a boil in a large saucepan set over medium-high heat, stirring often.
- Once it’s at a full rolling boil, add the pectin and as soon as it has returned to a rolling boil, set a timer for one minute. Stir mixture constantly while it finishes cooking.
- Remove from heat after the one minute has elapsed and stir every 30 seconds or so for 4 minutes, with a large metal spoon, skimming off any foam that has accumulated.
- Ladle into clean, hot jars and seal with canning lids. Refrigerate any jars that do not have a tight seal (centre of canning lid does not stay indented).