Cranberries are a sure sign of late fall and early winter; they appear in grocery stores just in time for holiday feasts, and disappear just as quickly. If you were overly enthusiastic in the produce section and have a few bags of fresh berries left over, get a head start on next year's holiday preparations and make some cranberry wine.
Mix 3 tablespoons of no-rinse sanitizer with 3 gallons of tap water in the fermenting bucket. Soak the remaining equipment in the sanitized water for at least 2 minutes.
Wipe a counter or other work surface with disinfectant wipes, or use a household cleanser. Remove the sanitized equipment, and place it on the cleaned work surface. Pour the water down the sink.
Prepare the Must
Wash and roughly chop the cranberries. Mix the berries, raisins, sugar and enzyme in the fermenting bucket. Add 3 to 4 gallons of purified water to make a total of 5 gallons.
Stir well. Cover loosely, and let the mixture sit at room temperature overnight.
Check Initial Gravity
Use the hydrometer to check the initial gravity of the cranberry mixture. It should be between 1.110 and 1.115. This indicates that the mixture is slightly denser than plain water, which has a gravity of 1.000.
Uncover the fermenting bucket and stir the mixture. Add the wine yeast and yeast nutrient, and stir to combine. Cover the fermenting bucket tightly and secure the airlock.
Leave the must in the fermenting bucket for approximately 1 week, or until fermentation slows, as shown by the airlock.
Use the siphon to transfer the wine from the fermenting bucket to a glass carboy. Discard the cranberry fruit solids.
Allow the wine to continue fermenting for an additional nine to 12 months before bottling.
Tricia Ballad is a writer, author and project geek. She has written several books including two novels, teaches classes on goal setting and project planning for writers, and loves to cook in her spare time. She is living proof that you can earn a living with a degree in creative writing.