has anyone made grape liqueur?

I got it in my head that, if I could make cherry bounce, why not do something similar with grapes? A quick spin around the internets and my cookbook shelf didn’t yield much information. Or rather, there was a lot of information, but it was all over the place and recipes varied wildly.

Finally, I narrowed it down to one of two methods:

a) make a grape puree, add sugar and spices (cinnamon? allspice? cloves?), and then top with vodka and, after several months, strain.

b) put grapes in jars, top with 100 proof vodka, let sit for 3 months, strain and add sugar.

And then I found a Hank Shaw recipe for elderberry liqueur and left a comment asking for advice. Hank’s response: don’t do the grape puree version because it may cloud the drink — go with Plan B, aka his method for making elderberry liqueur.

But then just today I found other delicious-looking methods that call for mashing the grapes (like this one) and now I’m waffling again. I love eating the cherries from the cherry bounce — wouldn’t a drunken grape puree be yummy over ice cream? 

I could try both methods, and maybe I will, but then it occurred to me: maybe some of you have experience with this? We have a TON of grapes this year and there’s a giant bottle of 100 Proof Vodka sitting in the back hall. So tell me, please: WHAT SHOULD I DO.

P.S. I wrote this yesterday and then, last night, I went ahead and tried the Plan B option. I still want to make another version, though — I’ve got some vodka left, and there are still loads of grapes dangling from the vine…

This same time, years previous: the quotidian (9.9.19), home again, outside eating, calf wrangling, blasted cake, swoony supper.

12 Comments

  • Fred Lilienkamp

    OK Jennifer. You and I have the same problem. I can find no recipe for grape schnapps. I’m not talking about grape liqueur. However, I do have a recipe for Rhubarb schnapps. I have made this for over 10 years now. My youngest daughter – she is 24- has joined me in doing this so now making schnapps is a family proposition. We transferred rhubarb plants from our previous house when we moved to our present place. These plants are now 37 years old. They were old before that. For all I know-these plants may go back 100 years. Our good friend Holly was the source of this recipe. She made Rhubarb schnapps and parceled out small bottles of it for Christmas every year to her lucky friends. Holly moved to Connecticut so we are on our own. Our Rhubarb gets nice and big in July in Hubbardston, MA. For a half gallon jar, put in 2 cups of sugar. Pack jar with chopped, raw rhubarb.Try to pick the reddest rhubarb you have. Fill/pack jar up with rhubarb. Pour in the cheapest vodka you can find until jar is full. I pay 12$ a quart from my local liquor store. That is enough for 1/2 gallon. Run a butter knife up and down the side of the jar to release all the air bubbles, just like you do in canning tomatoes. Cap the jar. I store the jar on the porch under a table. Shake the jar every now and then. Like when you think about it. Ideally, every week. But who would do that? We consider the schnapps done at Christmastime. 6 months.The rhubarb will be white and the schnapps will be the most beautiful pink that you you can imagine. At Christmastime when the whole family is here we divide up the spoils. And yes – friends get a little bottle filled with a pink magical substance. Ho! Ho! Ho!. So what about the grapes?. Well, I am going to pretend the grapes are rhubarb and proceed. EXCEPT! Rhubarb, being so sour, needs a lot of sugar. I am going to cut the sugar in half. So 1 cup for the 1/2 gal jar. Right now I am making grape juice from our wild grapes that I have collected. I am simmering/steaming the grapes. I am going to put some of the simmered grapes and some of the just picked grapes into the schnapps jar and mix them together. Without any sugar, the juice is pretty tart. I add sugar to taste for the grape juice. Start with 1/4 cup, stir in, then taste. Last year when I made the juice, I think it turned out that 1 cup of sugar was a good dose. I have a sweet tooth. Of course it depends how sour you like your juice. The juice gets strained through a jelly bag to get it clear. Then we can it, using the canning process for canning raw juice (refer to Ball Book). The Schnapps gets strained before Christmas and put into jars kept in the refrigerator. With my daughter in the picture now, we made 3 1/2 gallons of rhubarb schnapps. I will try 1/2 gallon for the grape schnapps since this is the first experiment. Wish us luck!

  • tippytoesfarm

    Our sour cherry trees were loaded this year and we made your Cherry Bounce. Oh my word so delicious. I have about 7 pint jars in the fridge (one mostly empty). And I have another 5 or gallons of cherries in the freezer that I may turn into bounce. I used Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum and Christian Brothers Brandy that had been aged 4 years in bourbon barrels. So good in bourbon and seltzer.

  • Ramona

    My comment isn’t so much about grape liqueur. At my previous house I had many different berries and grapes growing. My neighbor told me about a juicer-steamer to make grape juice. I found one at a local store. It made such a difference in getting juice extracted from fruit. When making jelly from berries it was such a pretty clear color. So if you want to make grape juice it makes it faster and easier.

  • Becky R.

    I have not made grape liqueur. Only other fruits, but my homegrown family grapes were very tough, so you probably don’t need to do that. Your grapes sound really good if they have thin skins! When I make cherry liqueur, I always prick the cherry skins.

  • Becky R.

    Although I have not made grape liqueur, I made several other kinds. My recommendation would be to use plan B, but to prick each grape so that the juice can mix effectively with the vodka. Grape skins are notoriously tough, and while puree would probably cloud the mixture, just putting the grapes into vodka may not allow the grape juice to mix with the vodka. Does that make sense? Even if it gets a bit cloudy, I bet it would still be just as good.

    • Jennifer Jo

      Did you use store-bought grapes or homegrown ones? I ask because our homegrown ones aren’t as firm — the skins tear and slip off while de-stemming them pretty easily — so I think a gentle jar shake every now and then might be all they need….?

      • Nicky Roo

        When I make sloe gin I freeze the sloes instead of pricking them all – they burst as they defrost! It might work with grapes too – saves lots of time.

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