Making Muscadine Wine: On The Skins Or Just The Juice?

Muscadines For Making WineDo I need to leave on the skins with my gold muscadine must, as I do when I make purple scuppernong must? Or do I need to ferment without as most white wine recipes do when making muscadine wine. Love the advice we receive here. Always great. Thanks for your time and knowledge.

Frank V. – TX
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Hello Frank,

Thanks for the kind words and a great question about making muscadine wine.

It is possible to make a white homemade muscadine wine with or without the pulp and skins. It is mostly a matter of personal taste, but it is also an important decision because the resulting wine will be very different in each case.

If you use nothing but the juice from the muscadine grapes to make the wine you will produce a wine that is lighter-bodied, crisp, and refreshing. It will have a straw color. The wine will mature fairly quickly, meaning it will usually be drinkable in a matter of weeks.

One important consideration when making muscadine wine from juice only is that the white muscadines will need to be crush and then pressed with an actual wine press, otherwise you will be leaving a lot of grape juice behind in the pulp. The juice will need to be squeezed from the pulp to avoid this significant waste.

Shop Wine PressIf you leave the pulp in the fermentation, the body of the wine will be much fuller and heavier. The color of the muscadine wine will be more intense and closer to a gold color than a straw color. It will be less refreshing, but more rich and earthy. It will have wider array of flavors, adding complexity to the wine. Leaving the skins in the fermentation can make a considerable difference.

If making a white muscadine wine with the skin and pulp, there may be more care required to get the wine to clear. It will also take longer to age into something you’d want to drink. I could take the better part of a year for the wine to come around.

Once the pulp and skins are removed from the fermentation, it would be advisable to press them to maximize your output of wine. However, in this case it is not not as critical a before because the fermentation will have broken down the pulp to a point where a significant portion of the juice will have be extracted.

My personal opinion is that when you are making muscadine wine at home you should take a middle-of-the-road approach.

Most red wines are fermented on the pulp for around 5 to 7 days. The more days the pulp is in the fermentation, the fuller the body. Wineries use the numbers of days to partially control the body of the wine they are producing. In a sense, they are sculpting the character of the wine.

This sculpting is used occasionally when making white wines, too. One that comes to mind is Sauvignon Blanc. It is not unusual for the skins and pulp to be in with the juice for the first day, just to extract more of the grape’s body.

Shop Wine Making KitsThis approach can be used when making muscadine wine at home, only I would leave the pulp in for 2 or 3 days and then remove the skins and pulp and then press. Make it a short primary fermentation. By doing this you should end up with a white muscadine wine that won’t take a year or more to maturate, but will still have some nice flavor and body that will make the wine enjoyable and interesting.

Having said this, it is your wine. If you are look for a crisp and refreshing muscadine wine, leave the pulp and skins out of the equation altogether. If you’re looking for a big, full muscadine wine with lots of flavor, but may take a year or better to age out, keep the skins and pulp in the fermentation for 7 days.

Frank, I hope this is the information you was looking for. We also have a recipe for making muscadine wine, if you need one. It also has directions on how to make the muscadine wine. If you’re not sure what you want to do, just do something. You’ll end up with a wine regardless. And, you’ll have the experience of making a muscadine wine.

Happy Winemaking,
Ed Kraus
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Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

10 thoughts on “Making Muscadine Wine: On The Skins Or Just The Juice?

  1. I made Muscadine red & white wine about 4 years ago from the Juice and had good luck. I have 80 pounds of the grapes to make red only,but this time I have to use the whole grape,because my friend that crushed them passed away.Hope your recipe helps me. thanks

  2. I use a method of fermentation that seems to ensure the must completes its run and do not have any stuck fermentations. I place my carboys is a small room, 70 degrees, and turn the light on and leave it on for 24 hours until my S.G. is where it should be. The yeast seems to enjoy the light and the results are always on target. I thought this may help someone in their hobby.

  3. I ferment my red muscadines on the skin for 10 to 14 days for a full bodied rich tasting wine, but I would never ever ferment white muscadine on the skin it will give you a bitter taste that will not go away. I have won many awards for both of my muscdines and my white muscadine tastes like fresh muscadines

    • Mr. Miller
      After crushing and leaving your red muscadines on the skin for 10-14 days, is this in a primary fermentator with a cover of cloth or towels? Do you then press the pulp (I have a table top press) and then put the juice in a secondary fermentator with airlock?
      Regarding the white muscadines, do you crush and press immediately and then put in a fermentator with airlock?

      How much water do you add per gallon for either the red or white muscadines?

      I am trying to stay away from “wine yeast” as the result is too dry and I have never tried to back sweeten.

      Any help would be appreciated.

      Tom
      South Carolina

  4. Pam, if it doesn’t start fermenting, it doesn’t mean all is last. You have to figure out why it’s not fermenting and fix the problem. The article listed below will help you to do this. These 10 reasons cover 95% of the issues we see with "stuck" fermentations:

    Top 10 Reasons For Fermentation Failures
    http://www.eckraus.com/wine-making-failure/

  5. I live in a scuppernong vineyard in SC. Last year I picked 60lbs. of bronze grapes, made a 5-gallon batch per ECK recipe, and froze the other 30lbs. Last week I made my second batch with the other 30lbs, same recipe and fermentation is rocking! I left the skins in both times, and everyone that tried it thought it was awesome. Sweetened it back at the end with about four cups of sugar dissolved in some water.

  6. I have made several batches of Muscadine Wine both red and white. My method is to freeze the Muscadines and put in paint bags in the fermentor. I then press the bag and pop any that are not burst and give them a good squeeze a couple of times a day. At end of ferment only some hulls are left. I do add pectic enzyme to my must and let it stay over night before pitching yeast. Everything thaws out nicely during this time. Works for me. I use this method on most of my wines.

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