How to Make Cranberry Wine
Cranberry Wine is one of the very first wines we tackled, way back when we started making wine about a decade ago.
If I recall correctly, it was September or October when we started - our first attempt at brewing was our Homemade Hard Apple Cider - and we were putting a batch of Cranberry Wine on in late October or Early November, when cranberries went on sale for the holidays.
See, when you are like us, and take on home brewing, grocery trips change. “Can we make wine from that?” is a frequent question we would ask each other, and a lot of the time.. Yes, we would ferment it.
... and when cranberries would go on sale dirt cheap, of COURSE we made wine from it!
Not only are cranberries cheap and- at certain times of the year - very easy to come by, they make a DELICIOUS wine. Cranberry Wine - whether this basic version, or our Homemade Cranberry Clementine Christmas Wine Recipe - is a favourite around here.
It makes a pretty red wine, very fruit-forward with none of the aspects of traditional red wines that I DON’T like (bitterness, tannins, that cigarette taste, etc). Just a really bright, fun, pleasant drinking wine.
Of course, like most/all wines, you’ll need to plan ahead. If you buy your cranberries this holiday season and put a batch on, you can be drinking your homemade cranberry wine NEXT holiday season.
Which, you know, is great timing, as this goes particularly well with the kind of roast dinners that get served for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or the holiday season in general!
As my husband says “It’s an adult way to drink cranberry juice!”
First Things First!
If you haven't attempted making wine before, don't be intimidated, it’s not as complicated as you might think.
Basically, you get some fruit, water, and sugar, toss some yeast in it, and let it go!
Ok, it’s a bit more involved than that, but not by much! Be sure to 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!
Cranberry Wine Ingredients
While using tap water can be an option, we tend to use jugs of spring water. This is for a couple of reasons..
First of all, tap water doesn’t always taste good - a hard (LOL) lesson we learned while living in Minneapolis.
While our water here in Hamilton doesn’t even require a filter to taste fresh and clean at all times, we know that’s not the case for everyone. Bottled spring water won’t bring any weird, undesirable flavours to your Cranberry Wine.
Additionally, nice and convenient: pre-measured, sterile, and handy.
However, if your tap water is consistently tasty and safe, feel free to use that instead of bottled.
We prefer to use granulated sugar for this - rather than brown sugar, etc - as the flavour is neutral enough to not cover up or weigh down the bright fruit flavour from the cranberries.
Those bags of fresh cranberries that are sold in the produce section in the fall and winter are what you’ll want to use to make this cranberry wine.
Depending on what brand you have, you may end up a little over or short on the amount of cranberries you need, depending on the weights they’re sold in where you are.
Not a huge deal - you can make this with plus or minus a bit of the cranberries - though I prefer to aim for “plus” when possible.
Just be sure to pick through your cranberries when you open the bags up, and get rid of any bits that don’t belong, or cranberries that have gone bad.
If you have a food processor, just run the cranberries though for a few seconds to break them up a bit. You don’t want them to be a puree, just chopped enough that their juices and flavours will leech out into the water/sugar mixture easily.
A puree will make racking it a bit more difficult. Not impossible or anything, just more effort and more of a mess than is necessary!
This recipe will make about a gallon of finished wine - but it's easy to scale the recipe up for bigger batches, as we normally do. Just multiply everything by the number of batches you'd like to make - aside from the yeast.
We'll use a single packet of yeast for anything up to 5 gallons, then add a second one for anything up to 10 gallons, and so on.
Back Sweetening Your Cranberry Wine
Sometimes, you’ll find that the yeast went a bit too far with their smorgasbord, and you end up with a cranberry wine that’s drier than you’d like it to be.
... and that’s when you back sweeten it! You can read my Homemade Strawberry Wine post for information on how to back sweeten it.
For the record - I’m currently working on a post about back sweetening, and it will be up long before any cranberry wine batch put on now will even be close to being ready to worry about back sweetening!
More Wine Recipes
While you've got your Cranberry Wine fermenting away, why not consider putting a batch of something else on, to occupy your wait time?
Here are a few of my other wine recipes:
Homemade Banana Wine Recipe
Homemade Blackberry Wine Recipe
Homemade Blueberry Mead Recipe
Homemade Blueberry Wine Recipe
Homemade Cherry Recipe
Homemade Clementine Mead Recipe
Homemade Cranberry Clementine Christmas Wine Recipe
Homemade Faux Lingonberry Wine Recipe
Homemade Hard Apple Cider Recipe
Homemade Mango Wine Recipe
Homemade Mango Strawberry Wine Recipe
Homemade Mint Wine Recipe
Homemade Newfoundland Partridgeberry Wine Recipe
Homemade Strawberry Wine Recipe
Homemade Watermelon Wine Recipe
Homemade Wildflower Mead Recipe
How to Make Pumpkin Mead
Maple Hard Apple Cider Recipe
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