How to Make Tomato Wine
Try out a new drink with a delicious tomato wine. Follow our easy recipe on how to make tomato wine and amaze all your family and friends.
There are some bases for wine which sound utterly delicious such as strawberry, blackberry and cranberry. With jammy, fruity flavors the idea of making wine from this type of produce sounds delightful.
However, wine can be made from a much wider variety of foods, including those which are less obvious… such as tomato.
Making tomato wine may not be top of your list but you’d be wrong not to give it a try. The flavor is a wonderful combination of fruitiness and spice, with a slight hint of honey. The alcohol is present but the sweet taste masks it to produce a wine which is indulgent. The one thing that tomato wine doesn’t taste of is tomatoes!
If you still need a little persuasion, you might be interested to learn that tomato wine has been made commercially for many years. And no, it’s not red wine! The end result depends on the type of tomato used but sommeliers have described as similar to a Sauvignon Blanc.
The great thing about tomato wine is that it’s cheap and easy to make, so why not give it a try? Here’s our step-by-step guide to creating tomato alcohol at home.
Here's a list of the essentials you'll need to tackle this awesome tomato wine recipe.
- 3.5lbs tomatoes (you can use more than one variety)
- 96oz water
- 1.5 lbs sugar
- 1 cup raisins
- 0.25 tsp tannin
- 2.5 tsp acid blend
- 1 Campden tablet
- 1 tsp yeast nutrient
- 1 pack Lalvin EC-1118 wine yeast
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Before you begin, assemble all the equipment you’ll need so that you’re ready for each step.
Ensure that everything you use has been properly sterilized.
Don’t be tempted to skip this step as unsterilized items can affect the balance and impair the final taste.
If you’re not an experienced wine-maker you’ll be able to pick up all of the items below very easily either at a specialist store or online.
- Primary fermenter
- Stirring spoon
- Siphon tubing kit
- Nylon straining bag
- 1-gallon jug or carboy
- Give all the tomatoes a good wash, rejecting or cutting out any parts which are bruised. Once thoroughly cleaned, cut the tomatoes into chunks.
- Place the chunks of tomatoes in the straining bag you have waiting. Place the bag above the fermenter.
- Keeping the tomatoes in the bag, crush, press and strain as much juice as you can into the primary fermenter.
- Once you can’t squeeze any more juice out, tie up the nylon bag and place this into the fermenter. All the pulp should remain inside the bag.
- Leaving out the yeast, add in all the other ingredients and stir thoroughly.
- Cover and leave for 24 hours.
When 24 hours have passed:
- Place 4oz of chlorine-free water in a large cup; the water should be warm but not exceeding 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Carefully stir the packet of yeast into the water, breaking down any visible clumps.
- Once fully combined, allow the mixture to stand for 15 minutes. This is the part that looks like a mad science experiment as the yeast and water combo will bubble and increase in size. This is what you want to see as it confirms that rehydration is occurring.
- After 15 minutes, add an equal volume of the tomato juice from the fermenter into the yeast. Let it stand for a further 15 minutes.
- Pour the whole yeast mixture into the fermenter and carefully stir. Measure the temperature and the Specific Gravity to give you a fermentation starting point. Recording this information will be valuable if you want to replicate your results (and we’re sure you will!)
- For the next five days, stir the mixture twice every day, morning and night. Don’t add any more yeast or other substances at this point.
- Continue to keep an eye on the activity of the yeast such as foaming and bubbling. You should see readings of Specific Gravity dropping as the sugar in the fermenting tomatoes turns into alcohol.
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When the vigorous fermentation has died down, it’s time to rack the wine to the secondary fermentation vessel: the carboy. It usually takes approximately five days of primary fermentation to reach this point.
- Press the wine to squeeze out the maximum amount and strain using cheesecloth. Don’t worry too much as you will be filtering it again later on.
- Add the airlock and the bung.
- During this phase you will notice yeast activity continuing but at a less rate than before. This will gradually decrease as fermentation advances.
- Monitoring the Specific Gravity will tell you how the wine is going to taste. A dry wine will be 0.990-0.996, a medium sweet wine will be 1.000 and a sweet wine will be above 1.000. You can also taste the wine to check the sweetness or dryness, allowing fermentation to continue to get the type of wine that you want.
- Temperature will play a large part in the fermentation process; if it’s too cold the fermentation will stop prematurely and the wine won’t be drinkable. If it’s not cold enough to stop the process totally but still a bit on the cool side, fermentation will take longer than in warmer conditions. Conversely, if it’s too hot you’ll end up with damaged yeast and a foamy mess. An ambient temperature of around 70°F-75°F is considered ideal.
- When your wine reaches the right level of sweetness or dryness it’s time to move onto stabilization.
- Move the racked wine into a sterilized bucket and re-sterilize the carboy. Alternatively, if you have a second sterilized carboy, you can just use that.
- Add the stabilizer and give it a thorough stir to distribute evenly. Stirring also gets rid of any unwanted gases – no-one wants a surprise exploding wine bottle!
- Re-rack the wine, straining to remove the dead yeast and any other gritty bits. By now, the process of fermentation has completed so no more mad bubbles should be visible.
- When you fill the carboy make sure it’s totally full, right to the top. Having air in with the mixture can oxidize the wine causing – yes, you guessed it – undrinkable wine. As a rough guide, there should be a gap that’s absolutely no wider than your thumb at the top.
- Add the airlock and the bung and store in a cool, dry place for around 30-45 days to start with. The whole process of stabilizing may take much longer. You can allow the temperature to cool at this point, around 55°F is great. However, temperature doesn’t play such a large part by this point so don’t worry excessively if it’s slightly warmer.
- You’ll notice that as time passes, the wine starts to become clearer and sediment gathers at the bottom. This is what you want to see so don’t panic!
- Re-rack the wine every few weeks until the wine is beautifully clear and there’s no sediment.
- Once your wine is clear with no sediment, it’s time to bottle it up. It does without saying that the bottle needs to be both clean and sterilized!
- Filter the wine one last time before allowing it to age. Unfortunately you’ve still got a bit of a wait as it’s recommended to allow it to sit for one year.
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Enjoy at your leisure
Sweet or dry, but definitely not tomatoey, this is one wine that you’ll really savor once it’s ready to drink. Tomatoes are a cheap ingredient but produce a quite incredible result but don’t take our word for it – have a go at this tomato wine recipe for yourself and prepare to be surprised at the delicate flavor of beautifully aged tomato wine.