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When making wine with grapes, fresh grapes are not always readily available. Some factors include the time of year or the region that you, the winemaker, live in. Since good wine grapes have a very short window of opportunity when they hit their peak, winemakers must often look to alternatives.
Other factors for looking to fresh grape alternatives for wine include saving money! Some winemaking equipment such as the crusher or wine press can get pretty expensive. This is especially true for the novice winemaker just starting out with the hobby of making their own wine at home. You can easily get a few batches of great wine made to really whet your appetite for home winemaking.
Frozen Must
Frozen must is made by the crushing of the grapes, adding the sulfite dose, and finally freezing the must. The grapes for white wine are generally crushed and pressed while for red wine they are crushed and de-stemmed before being frozen. The frozen must will begin to thaw as it is shipped from your supplier of choice and will be ready to make into wine shortly after arrival. Although a wine press would be helpful a nylon mesh bag and rubber gloves will quickly and easily do the trick. The quality from frozen must should be the same as using fresh grapes. There should be no significant grape quality degradation due to the freezing of the must.
Aseptic Juice
Aseptic juice is juice that is free of germs of disease or infection. Basically once the grapes are crushed and pressed it is then flash pasteurized. The volume is not reduced due to boiling during this pasteurization. The skins of the grapes will have been processed and re-added in the case of red grapes. The sulfite dose will be added before the juice is bagged, boxed and shipped. The aseptic juice is very easy for the home winemaker to use – simply transfer the juice from the bag to your fermenter and ferment. There is no crushing, de-stemming, or pressing needed. The quality from aseptic juice should only slightly be lower than that of the frozen must – but you can still make great wine with it.
Concentrate and Concentrate Kits
Grape concentrate is made when the the water is removed from from the grape juice. After the pasteurization of the aseptic juice, it is generally boiled down in a vacuum at a low temperature to reduce the volume. All the flavor and characteristics of the grape remain. The lower the boil temperature and the better the vacuum, the more of the grape characteristics are contained in the concentrate. Although it should be noticed that you will not get the “very finest grapes” from a concentrate.
You don't need to run your own vineyard to make quality wine at home. There are still many options for the home winemaker for making quality grape wine with fresh grape alternatives. Even though the best option is for the highest quality grapes at their peak – you can still achieve great wine with fresh grape alternatives.