Monday, December 26, 2011

Balloon Mead (Light)

This is my favorite of my mead recipes, now in an easy balloon wine version! It involves one more step than the other recipes, which is boiling.
Click here to see all balloon wine recipes!


2.2 lbs. Honey
water to 1 gallon

Put honey and water in a stock pot. Bring to a boil. Let simmer for five minutes. Let it cool. Place the mixture in your container. Making sure everything is at room temperature, add your yeast. Put a balloon with some pinholes in it over the container. Ferment.

Fermentation might take up to 30 days, but the balloon mead should clear very fast.

Bottle. Enjoy!

1.) Try using pasteur champagne yeast for great results.
2.) During the boil you can throw in a sachet of black tea to add tannins for more body, but not necessary.

Monday, December 19, 2011

White Balloon Wine

This is such an easy balloon wine recipe, and it turns out great!
Click here to see all balloon wine recipes!


3 cans white grape juice concentrate
1 1/2 cups sugar

Using all sanitized equipment and containers, add grape concentrate, sugar, and water to a one gallon container. Cap and shake to dissolve your sugar. Then, add in your wine yeast. Poke a balloon with a pin a few times, and put the balloon over the container.

This generally needs to ferment 10 to 15 days at room temp. Then it needs time to clear. Racking is optional, but might make for less sediment in your bottles.


1.) Use a white wine yeast, I had awesome results with K1V-1116
2.) Age the balloon wine in the bottle for about ten months before drinking if you can wait. I did, and it was really worth it.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Red Balloon Wine

This is a simple recipe for 1 gallon of red hillbilly wine.
Click here to see all balloon wine recipes!


3 cans frozen grape concentrate
1 cup sugar

Sanitize all equipment. Put sugar, grape juice concentrate, and water into one gallon sanitized container. Shake up until sugar is dissolved. Add yeast. Slap on balloon with pinholes. Ferment.


1.) Use wine yeast, and a read wine yeast like pasteur red if you can.
2.) Once fermentation is done/almost done, put a new balloon on without pinholes; it keeps more oxygen out.
3.) Make sure the juice doesn't have preservatives, they might kill off the yeast. Welch's grape juice concentrate has worked fine for me in the past.

Fermentation will likely last 10 to 15 days at room temperature. Give the wine longer to clear. Rack if desired, bottle when desired.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Balloon Wines

The reason I started the Winemaker's Notebook was to provide a resource for beginner winemakers. When I first started making wine, I had no idea what I was doing, and my google searches led me to sites talking about brix, pH, specific gravity, hydrometers, airlocks, strains of yeast, nutrients, enzymes, tannins, and a whole slew of other things to do with wine making. Even though I could figure what most of these things were, and being in biology many of them were extremely familiar, it wasn't as if I had all of the equipment and ingredients and additives to start right out, and that's what I wanted to do. I wanted to go to the market, buy a few things, and make wine.

It can be done.

In an effort to make this site of even greater value to the beginning winemaker, I am introducing a new section of the site totally dedicated to balloon wines.

What the heck is a balloon wine?

Balloon wine is wine so simple, that the only "special" equipment or ingredient that is necessary to make it is wine yeast, which can be ordered on line for about 50 cents.

Balloon wine is essentially all the ingredients, thrown into a sanitized container, with a balloon slapped on top. It may seem rather rudimentary, but it is indeed the first step that I took in winemaking, and led me to what I do today.

a balloon airlock, left, and a plastic airlock, right

The best part is the extremely low start-up cost. For right around five dollars one can get their juice, their balloons, their yeast, their sugar, and a container. Then, you're on your way to making your first gallon of wine!

Beginning next Monday, and every following Monday for a number of weeks, a balloon wine recipe will appear on the site! Many of the recipes will have an equivalent in the regular recipe section, but you'll notice minor differences in all of them, and major differences in others. All of them will make a decent wine. There will also be a balloon wine section under the "Guides" column on the right hand side of the page, and "Balloon Wine" will be listed under the recipes column. Either of these links will take you to all of the site's balloon wine recipes. Check back often, because as I said, a new recipe will appear each week!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The search for elder trees

Over the last few days, whenever I'm out walking I've been trying to spot elder trees, but there's a problem. The leaves and berries are all gone, and so I don't have a whole lot to go on.

I've figured out how I missed the leaves falling. I definitely noticed the beautiful foliage this fall, but right outside our front door and living room window seat we have a big ginkgo tree, and each autumn it is the last tree to lose its leaves. Just the other day it shed them.

Anyway, back to the elderberry trees. They've been quite elusive, or so I thought. About a week ago I went on a walk to a specific place where I thought that I had seen some elders, but when I got there I realized they weren't. They looked more like shrubs or weeds. Then a quick google search today made me realize that I was wrong! I had found elderberry trees!

(by the way, the image has nothing to do with elderberries, but I like the way it looked and I forgot to take the camera on my search)

I'm sure this is much more exciting for me than for you, but next summer I will most certainly be bringing you a recipe for elderberry wine!