|Apparently today is “National Watermelon Day”. I had today’s recipe all ready to publish, but I have the *perfect* recipe for watermelon day, so…
You know, one of these days, I’m gonna make a calendar of all of these “days”, and keep them in mind ahead of time. Sounds like a much better plan than ending up distracted at the last minute!
Anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve posted a homemade wine recipe. Watermelon wine is not only tasty, it’s easy to make and a unique choice for summer imbibing. Also, we’re a little overdue on putting on this summer’s batch. What can I say, the tornado screwed with our summer brewing schedule when it turned our lives upside down!
If you haven’t attempted making wine before, don’t be intimidated! Check out our primer to home brewing, it starts here, with parts 2 and 3 here and here. Just a small handful of entries, and you’ll be good to go!
This recipe uses few ingredients, but it’s important to make them the right ones. Most importantly:
Watermelon: Use ripe watermelon WITH seeds. Seedless watermelon may be easier, but it doesn’t taste as robust/good. You CAN ferment it if you like, it just won’t be as nice.
Sugar: White sugar. Brown sugar will overpower the delicate taste of the watermelon.
The ABV on this wine comes out to around 19%, and the color can be anywhere from straw colored to a pretty pale pink. It’s a sweet wine, perfect for dessert. It’s lovely when served chilled on a hot summer day… just be careful, it will knock you on your butt if you’re not careful. The sweetness hides its potency!
Two recipe- specific words of advice:
1. Chopping the watermelon is messy business. I recommend putting a cutting board in a baking sheet (the kind with rim/short walls), and cutting it up in there. Periodically dump the accumulated juice into the pot.
2. This is very much a seasonal wine, and it will NOT turn out anywhere near as good if you make it with winter produce. We made the mistake of only putting on 1 gallon the first time, and 5 next time. This year, we’ll likely make 10 gallons – plan accordingly! Watermelon wine makes a great gift. Also, as we’re finding out… it makes a great tip for contractors that take care of you!
How to Make Homemade Watermelon Wine
1 large, ripe watermelon
3 lbs granulated white sugar
1 tsp acid blend
1 tsp yeast nutrient
1 packet Red Star “Champagne” brewing/wine yeast
Slice up watermelon, discarding rind. Chop watermelon flesh into 1″ cubes, placing into a large pot. Once all watermelon flesh and juice is collected in the pot, heat over medium, stirring and mashing frequently, until watermelon flesh has broken down into liquid. Remove from heat.
Measure about 3.5 L / 14-15 cups / 120 oz of juice, reserve any remaining – you can drink it straight, or make cocktails from it! In large pot, combine measured watermelon juice (straining the seeds out as you measure!) with the sugar. Heat to almost boiling, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, cover with sanitized pot lid.
Once mixture has cooled to room temperature, add acid blend and yeast nutrient.
Using a sanitized funnel, transfer cooled mixture to a sanitized 1 gallon carboy, until carboy is almost full.
Using sanitized equipment, take a gravity reading. It should be in around the 1.16 area. Keep track of the number! (This is an optional step, but will allow you to calculate your final ABV %)
Sprinkle yeast into carboy, cover with sanitized air lock. Let sit, undisturbed, overnight.
Within 24 hours, you should notice fermentation activity – bubbles in the airlock, carbonation and /or swirling in the wine must. This means you’re good to go! Put the carboy somewhere cool (not cold!), and leave it alone for a month or two.
Using sanitized equipment, rack the clarified wine off the sediment, into a clean, freshly sanitized 1 gallon carboy. Cap with sanitized airlock, leave it alone for another 2-3 months. r
Repeat racking process. Leave wine alone for a month or two. By 6 months in, your wine should be very clear, and VERY tasty!
When your wine has been racked a few times and shows NO more fermenting activity for a month or so (no bubbles in the airlock, no more sediment being produced, you can move on to bottling:
Using sanitized equipment, take a gravity reading*, then rack the wine into clean, sanitized bottles. Cork. (We like to use these for corking our homemade wine. Easy to use – no special equipment needed! – easy to uncork, and – should you have any wine left in your bottle after serving (pfft!), the “cork” is easily replaced for temporary storage!)
Enjoy.. and start planning for next year’s batch(es)!
* Our final gravity reading on this comes out to about 1.012