Homemade Watermelon Wine

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.

Making bigger batches in this photo – 1 red, one yellow!

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

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Author:Marie Porter

Marie is an award winning cake artist based in Minnesota's Twin Cities. Known as much for her delicious and diverse flavor menu as for her sugar artistry, Marie's work has graced magazines and blogs around the world. Having baked and designed for brides, celebrities, and even Klingons, Marie was proud to share her wealth of baking knowledge in her two cookbooks: "The Spirited Baker" and “Evil Cake Overlord”. Marie has also authored a book about her experiences surrounding the 2011 Minneapolis tornado: "Twisted: A Minneapolis Tornado Memoir"

32 Responses to “Homemade Watermelon Wine”

  1. DA Bessire
    July 19, 2013 at 8:51 am #

    When you make a 6 gallon batch do you multiply even the yeast and acid blend by 6 ? Let me know.

    • July 19, 2013 at 9:55 am #

      Multiple the acid blend, but you don’t need to multiple the yeast. You can toss a second packet in for good measure, but I wouldn’t bother with any more beyond that.

  2. DA Bessire
    July 23, 2013 at 6:03 pm #

    Ok great I’m all in for a six gallon batch. Do you use anything to kill the Yeast? Any other Chemical additives? Thanks for taking the time to write this guide and answer our questions..

    • July 23, 2013 at 6:12 pm #

      Nope, we tend to figure that by the time the watermelon has broken down, it’s been heated enough to kill any remaining yeast.

      • DA Bessire
        July 26, 2013 at 11:35 pm #

        When I heated the melon it never turned into a liguid completely. I could strain but along with the seeds I am getting a lot of flesh containing lots of sweet. Could I leave the seeds and all? Do you think I am doing something wrong, maybe not stewing it long enough?

  3. September 23, 2013 at 7:43 pm #

    do you have issues with the yeast bubbling out of our airlock when it is just put on top? I did exactly as your recipe states and I kept having the yeast foam out the airlock so I had to stir it in. Thanks for your reply!

  4. July 17, 2014 at 1:05 am #

    what if you use rind and melon flesh would the wine taste awful ?

  5. July 22, 2014 at 2:08 pm #

    Can I use a 5 gal plastic water jug as a carboy or does it have to be glass?

    • July 24, 2014 at 7:27 am #

      Ideally glass – plastic can impart weird flavours on your wine, if you keep it on plastic too long.

  6. jonny
    September 29, 2014 at 3:57 pm #

    how big of a difference will it make if you don’t use that yeast and what is an acid blend (vinegar)

    • September 30, 2014 at 7:14 am #

      Using any of the winemaking yeasts will work, it’ll just affect the final alcohol content, more than anything. Some yeasts have a higher tolerance, will take the wine much drier. If that’s the case, you’ll want to add more sugar after fermenting – watermelon wine really does need to be a sweet wine.

      Acid blend is a common additive, found at homebrewing supply stores. Don’t use vinegar!

  7. Maureen
    January 22, 2015 at 6:46 pm #

    Marie, my husband and I bottled our first gallon of watermelon wine yesterday, using your recipe, and it is beautiful and very good! You are correct about the high alcohol content…I think ours ended up being between 16 and 17 percent!! We look forward to Summer and growing more watermelons and making more wine. Thank you so much for your delicious recipe!

    • January 26, 2015 at 8:52 am #

      Thank you for your kind words!

      How amazing that you can make it with your own home grown watermelons! Consider me jealous.

  8. prit
    March 1, 2015 at 4:12 am #

    Hello Marie,

    Me from India and it is the water melon season. And I intend to make water melon wine from your recipe.

    However, some difficulties and some questions.

    1) We don’t get acid blend here. So, I intend to mix lime juice and tamarind juice (citric and tartaric acid). Because a blend is also citric and tartaric acid. Do you think it should work well?

    2) Can I turn the water melon into a fine juice using a juicer instead of crushing?

    3) Also, in your recipe you have asked to strain out the seeds. But I wonder how is that possible. Once you strain, are you also not going to strain out the reminder of the flesh which hasn’t been converted into juice?

    4) No need to add any water to this, right?

    5) Should I boil? Instead can’t I use potassium metabisulphite (we don’t get campden tablets here in India) and leave it for 24 hours before adding the yeast.

    And last question:

    6) when I add yeast, will it get dissolved automatically or is there a need to stir it?

    I appreciate your patient replies Marie.

    Thank you.

    • March 11, 2015 at 12:08 pm #

      Hi Prit!

      1. OK… do you have a brewing supply store near you? Personally, I’d ask them what’s used for acid in brewing over there, if you can’t get actual acid blend. I have no idea if tamarind and lime are acid enough to be a stand in, or what the ratio would be.

      2. You can, but that’s definitely more work / mess.

      3. You’ll get a bit of flesh with it, but most will have liquified.

      4. Nope. No water.

      5. You can use that, but I prefer to boil.

      6. Just add it, it doesn’t need to be stirred

  9. Joe
    March 2, 2015 at 6:23 pm #

    Marie, this looks like a great recipe! One that I am looking forward to trying once watermelons are in season. I have a question though, after you mash the watermelon and measure out the liquid; do you strain it or include the watermelon flesh as well?

    • March 11, 2015 at 12:05 pm #

      The watermelon flesh basically liquifies as you cook it, so I leave it all in.

  10. John Snider
    September 21, 2015 at 8:58 pm #

    I didn’t find your recipe until a month after I started my 5 gallon batch. My local home brew store was out of the champagne yeast so my wife picked up some turbo yeast. The turbo yeast was intended for using 13 lbs sugar and 5 gallons of water to make a 26% alc mash. I assume to further distill. The mixture started working within 2 minutes of placing the airlock on. I will let you know how it comes out when it’s finished. I will be using you’re recipe next year. Thank You.

    • September 23, 2015 at 9:22 am #

      No problem!

      I’ve never used turbo yeast, so I’m curious to hear about how it turns out!

  11. January 9, 2016 at 10:04 pm #

    Hello ma’am,

    I live and work on a fully operational farm in south GA. I’ve made watermelon wine a few different times using a very similar recipe. I’ve always only made 5 gallons at a time, just for personal consumption. The owner of the farm I work on found out about my wine through word of mouth. Needless to say, he was a fan and wants me to make 100 gallons this year and will fully fund the operation. My question is, in your professional opinion, how much yeast should I use total? I have asked my elders that was generous enough to teach me to make it originally, yet that was almost a year ago and no one seems to have a straight answer for me. I sure would greatly appreciate any and all advice and insight you May have on this.

    Thank you for your time,

    • October 4, 2016 at 11:22 am #

      Well, I have NO experience at all with commercial, large batch wines, so I’m really not the person to ask. If I were to guess, it’d be a packet per 5 gallons… but for all I know, commercial wineries use yeast in larger packets.

  12. Paul
    June 7, 2016 at 8:35 am #

    How did John snyders wine come out? I think the turbo yeast will give it some off flavoring because it’s mostly used for higher alcohol content mash for distilling.

  13. jean
    July 10, 2016 at 1:23 am #

    is lalvin all purpose wine yeast ok to use instead of the red star… i am very new to this wine making… and after reading this watermelon recipe i have to try it… so any extra tips would be great… going to try for making a 5- 6 gal batch. thanks

  14. chris
    July 29, 2016 at 6:28 pm #

    quick question. making a 5 gallon batch in fermentation buckets, do I multiply everything except the yeast by 5?

  15. Donna
    August 22, 2016 at 8:54 am #

    If using champagne yeast does this have to be bottled like champagne?

  16. Fred
    August 29, 2016 at 4:30 pm #

    how long can I store the wine.

    • October 4, 2016 at 11:06 am #

      We’ve stored it for a couple years. Not sure beyond that, it’s always gone before it can get too old.

  17. Bull
    January 8, 2017 at 9:36 am #

    Would a steamer juicer work? I have had good luck with strawberry and blueberry just curious

    • February 6, 2017 at 6:33 am #

      I’m not even sure what that is, so can’t really give any advice there.. sorry about that!

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