Wine in the fellowships

Since many of us come from an LDS background, and very few have ever made wine before, I have taken it upon myself to give a couple of recipes that make a very acceptable wine for use in our fellowship sacraments.

My credentials in this area are broadening every year. I know what good wines should taste like. I have a huge investment in tasting medal winning wines 🙂 I currently make about 250 bottles of wine per year of the very wine I am giving the recipes for, and many have drunk my wine at some of the conferences which have been held and in 3 or 4 local fellowships close to me. And no, I’m not interested in expanding! I think there should be wine makers throughout the fellowships. So here goes:

We will start by making only a gallon or two at a time, and you can expand from there. A gallon of finished wine will produce 5+ wine bottles full of wine. If your fellowship is small and a bottle full of wine is too much you can bottle the wine in beer bottles or soda pop bottles (no twist offs) and you will get approximately two bottles for every wine sized bottle, or about 10 bottles per gallon. You will need the following equipment and supplies:

1 – 5 – 6 gal food grade bucket w/ lid.

3 – clear gallon jugs. You can get the jugs free if you go to a liquor store and buy gallon jugs of any red wine they have. Drink the wine for a few sacraments and keep the jugs. Wash them out with water only. NEVER USE SOAP! I have suggested 3 here because if you want a gallon of finished wine, you need to probably start with 2 gallons, and you’ll need the third when you rack. (See below.)

2 – rubber plugs (the ones that fit gallon jugs) that are pre-drilled through the center to accept an airlock. About $1.50 ea.

2 – airlocks. These are necessary during fermentation and aging. They come in many configurations. I use the ’S’ type lock. They cost about a buck apiece.

BTW All these supplies or materials I list here can be purchased from your local beer and wine supply store or on line. I buy my stuff from The Beer and Nut shop in SLC.

1 – wine making hydrometer. This will cost about $12.00. These are very fragile. I usually break a couple a year.

1- Plastic siphon pump + hose. Make sure it fits in the neck of your gallon jug. Cost is between $8.00 – $12.00.

5 – 10 wine bottles. Used are good. Wash them clean with clear hot water. Again, NO SOAP.

1 – bottle corker. This is a must have item. It will probably be the most expensive item to buy so far. When you use it for real, wet the corks. I think they cost about $20.00.

1 small bag – #9 corks (about 30 count).

1 pkg – Wine yeast. I use Red Star brand and get the Pasteur Red type. One package will make from one to five gallons of wine.

1 bottle – Pectic Enzyme.

1 bottle – Acid Blend

1 bottle – Campden tablets.

1 bottle – Yeast Nutrient

5 lbs – Sugar.

This is all the equipment and supplies you need to get started. Now to the recipes. There are two, and they are for either Concord grapes or Concord juice. I specify Concord because they are plentiful locally, and they make a good tasting wine regardless of how far in the air the connoisseur sticks his nose up at the mention of “Concord.” There are about 7 or 8 varieties of Concord. Buy from a farmer that has a variety that produces a deep reddish-purple juice.


Don’t use store bought grapes
12 lbs Fresh Grapes
10 pts Water
6 1/2 cups Sugar (needs to be in solution so add about 1/2 – 1 cup water and bring to boil) Pour into bucket while still hot.
1 tsp Pectic Enzyme
2 tsp Yeast Nutrient
2 Campden tablets (crushed)
1 pkg Yeast (add later)

Wash the grapes. De-stem the grapes; Just the big stems. Don’t pick off each little stem on every grape. Put grapes in bucket and mash gently with a potato masher (or whatever.)

Add water and sugar solution.

Add all other ingredients except yeast. Stir well but gently. Cover with lid and let stand in a warm place for 24 hours.

After 24 hours add yeast. Before adding, pre- dissolve yeast in water between 100 – 105 degrees Farhenheit. Use a thermometer to get exact temperature. Gently stir yeast into “Must.” (That’s what this concoction is now called.)

Check the specific gravity of the must with your hydrometer. It should read 1.090 – 1.100. This will make a wine of between 12 – 14% alcohol. If S.G. is too low add some more sugar solution. If too high, add more water. Be careful on adding both.

Cover bucket, not tightly, and in about 24 – 48 hours it should begin to ferment. It will bubble, and the grapes will rise to the top and form kind of a hard cap which needs to be pushed down and stirred in twice a day. (Gently!) During fermentation try to keep temperature between 75 & 90 F.

Check S.G. periodically. When it reaches 1.030 (usually about 3 days) take all the grape skins and seeds out, and press all the juice you can get out of them (I use a mesh bag or a piece of nylon window screen.) Throw the skins and seeds away and add the juice back in.

Now pour (better to siphon) the wine into the glass jugs (no more than 2/3 full) put in a stopper and an airlock (be sure to put water in the airlock) and put it in a warm place to finish fermenting. You can tell if fermentation is done because the airlocks will quit bubbling and the water will equalize. Or your hydrometer will read 1.000 – 0.992 S.G. This will usually take from 3 – 5 weeks.

When fermentation is done, “rack” wine (it is now wine) into a clean bottle. This means to syphon the wine out of the full jug, off all the junk (lees) which settled to the bottom, into a clean glass jug. Fill the bottle to about 1 inch below the stopper. ( At this point oxygen sitting on top of a bottle of wine is your worst enemy.) Re-fill the airlock with fresh water and put it in the stopper. Put the filled jugs in a dark, cool place, to be undisturbed.

I re-rack into clean bottles every 2 months for at least 3 times. The wine during and because of this racking should become ruby clear. About a year or so after I began this process it’s now time to bottle, unless you have priesthood power like unto God, then it’s possible to do it more quickly.

Time to learn how to use your new corker and how to cork a bottle. Fill each bottle to about 1/2” below the cork. Wet the corks before trying to push them through your corker if it’s just a hand corker. They go in much easier. After bottling, store in a dark cool place until you are ready to drink it. ALWAYS lay a bottle down, or up end it, so the wine is against the cork, when storing it.


Always buy or make grape juice without added sugar or preservatives. If it has any preservatives in it it probably will not ferment. Always use homemade if possible, that way you’ll know for sure.

6 pts pure juice
10 pts water
6 1/2 cups sugar (in solution)
4 tsp Acid blend
1 tsp Pectic Enzyme
2 tsp Yeast Nutrient
2 tablets Campden, crushed
1 Pkg Wine Yeast

From here the way of making the wine from juice is the same as for the grape recipe, except where it makes reference to washing grapes, crushing, and pressing the grapes. In the juice recipe this has all been previously done. Everything else is the same, except you will notice this one calls for acid blend. The skins and seeds in the grape recipe provide the needed acid for that one.

Make sure to taste the wine as every stage. These recipes make a very dry wine which most non wine drinkers think is very bitter. There are tannins and acids and other things going on in the wine that contribute to that taste we call bitter, but which are necessary, and really desirable in appropriate quantities, in the wine. This is your opportunity to drink of the “bitter cup”, as they say.


We have found a way to make with this wine, a sweeter presentation to those who just plain think it is nasty. You (just before drinking) add one bottle (1 quart) of R.W. Knudsen “Just Tart Cherry” (at any Walmart store) to two bottles (full size) of our delicious dry wine. You now have three bottles of wine where before you had two, plus a glass full to enjoy. This also reduces the alcohol content by about a third. And adds a tart semi-sweetness to the wine. Not for me, but others seem to like it very much.

And, have you all noticed that “Sacrament” in D&C 89 has an ’S’ on the end of it?

Happy making and drinking.

Keith Henderson