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What Is Grapefruit Wine?

By Cynde Gregory
Updated May 16, 2024
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Wine is made from grapes, as even teetotalers know, and grapes are fruit. What many people don’t realize, though, is that wine can be fermented from other fruits or even from grains and flowers. Elderberry, blackberry, and apple wines are longtime, homemade favorites that grandparents or great grandparents might have sipped, but even grapefruit can be used as a wine base. Grapefruit wine uses the juice of several large grapefruit together with sugar, yeast, and other basic ingredients to create a dry, semisweet or very sweet type of wine.

Homemade wines based on fresh fruit are generally treated as new wine, meaning they should be consumed within a year or two at the most. Like other fresh-fruit wines, grapefruit wine requires the addition of water. This is because grapes used to manufacture wine have low levels of acidity and supply considerable natural sugar.

Creating a good, dry grapefruit wine suitable to pair with fish, chicken, or other light dishes can be done with or without the addition of concentrated grape juice. The version that dispenses with the concentrate requires more sugar and a bit more water. Alternatively, the winemaker can add white grape juice concentrate in place of some of the sugar and water. Once the sugar, water, and yeast food have been dissolved and added to freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, some cleaned grapefruit peel and a Campden tablet, which is a potassium product used to kill undesirable bacteria, it must sit overnight. Then, pectic enzyme is added, and yeast joins the mix in another 12 hours.

Over the course of the next 48 hours, more sugar is added to encourage the wine to ferment. Once this period of dynamic fermentation is over, winemakers remove the peel, and the wine is set aside. Once a month for the next five months, the wine must be racked. This means it is poured into clean bottles, with as much sediment left behind as possible. While grapefruit wine is drinkable after resting for six months, the countdown doesn’t begin until after the fifth and final racking.

Semisweet grapefruit wine follows much the same process, with a few additions. Almost double the amount of sugar is required to sweeten up the wine, and many winemakers further add to the flavor with chopped white or golden raisins. Another difference is that, following the fifth or sixth racking, it’s necessary to let the wine rest for a week and a half or so to stabilize before the winemaker adds more sugar dissolved in boiling water. This wine, too, is best served at least six months following the final racking.

Sweet grapefruit dessert wine follows the basic recipe for semisweet wine with a few differences. More sugar, of course, is added both as the wine is initially bottled and at the end of the preparatory period before it rests for six months. This wine is especially wonderful served with dessert cheese and fresh fruit.

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