Many moons ago I received an issue of Saveur Magazine that had amongst other awesome fermentation projects a recipe for grape soda made by fermenting champagne yeast in sweet grape juice. The idea is so genius, yeast eats the sugar in the sweetened grape juice and produces CO2 as a byproduct, carbonating the grape juice. I pulled the recipe out and filed it in my “to-try” binder. Months later, when harvest season was in full swing and the Bay Area grocery stores were selling fresh Tempranillo and Merlot grapes I bought a few bunches, juiced them and froze the juice. I ordered champagne yeast. And then I never got around to making the soda.
Then, as the weather began to warm up and thoughts of grilling in the sunshine filled my head, it was time. What would be a better than a burger and a tall glass of bubbly real grape soda? I liked it so much I used all of my stash of frozen squeezed grape juice and still wanted more. I bought a bottle of Concord grape juice from a local farmer at the farmer’s market and made the recipe again. EVEN BETTER. Concord grape juice is what canned grape soda wishes it tasted like, sweet and refreshingly tart at the same time. Save yourself the time and dyed fingertips involved with squeezing your own grape juice and buy some good 100% Concord grape juice.
Homemade Grape Soda, The Real Deal Holyfield of Bubbly Purple Beverages!
Barely adapted from Saveur Magazine and all their genius
2.75 cups PURE 100% Concord Grape Juice, or 2.75 cups fresh squeezed grape juice
2.75 cups water
2 tablespoons sugar
less than 1/8 teaspoon champagne yeast ( I used 1/8 teaspoon the first time and it was too yeasty so I cut it in half to the barely measurable 1/16 teaspoon which is essentially a pinch)
1 empty, sanitized 1 liter plastic bottle
Squeeze the grapes if needed and reserve juice. Heat grape juice, sugar and water together in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until slightly reduced, about 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat, sprinkle yeast into mixture and stir to dissolve. Leave mixture in saucepan covered with a kitchen towel for 24 hours.
Leave at room temperature until bottle in hard as a rock. When it was a little chilly in my apartment this took about 36 hours, but when it was warm and delicious outside it only took about 18. I would plan around 24 hours for the pressure to build up.
Place bottle in the fridge for 48 hours and than enjoy. (Note: At some point this concoction will begin to become alcoholic, it will probably take over a week, so be aware if serving to children or drink faster!)