Wine is fermented grape juice, but it doesn’t taste much like unfermented grape juice found in the juice aisle. Fermentation isn’t the only reason wine tastes different from grape juice, though. While grape juice can be made from any mature grape, it’s usually made from Concord grapes to achieve a distinct purple color and candy-like flavor.
In contrast, wine is made from more than a thousand different varieties of grapes cultivated around the world. Of course, if you build a sophisticated palate, it’s entirely possible to identify the flavor of grape juice in wine.
Is Wine Just Grape Juice with Alcohol Added?
Adding alcohol to grape juice makes a cocktail, not wine, but this is a great question to prank your favorite wine connoisseur with. The alcohol in wine comes from the fermentation process of grapes.
When yeast feeds on sugar, it eventually converts it into ethanol and carbon dioxide. Ethanol is pure alcohol, and it’s used in hand sanitizer, beauty products, and preservatives. But when it’s produced in relatively small amounts and combined with what remains of the grape juice, the final product is wine.
This process takes 3 to 4 weeks, but some wines need to be aged to get the right flavor, so they won’t meet a supermarket shelf for up to a year.
Can I Spike My Grape Juice to Make it Taste Like Wine?
There are a couple of ways to spike grape juice and make it taste like wine.
- Ferment grape juice at home.
- Turning grape juice into wine is simple but takes a few ingredients (juice, sugar, and yeast) and several days. There are also premixed packets of yeast and sugar designed to dump into your standard jug of juice, which eliminates the need to measure. Making wine at home isn’t dangerous, but it can be hit or miss when trying to make something that tastes great.
- Add a splash of alcohol.
- While it’s technically a cocktail, not everyone has the time and patience to make homemade wine. You can experiment with any alcohol on hand, but vodka has a neutral flavor that won’t overpower the flavor of grape juice.
Why Does Grape Juice Taste Like Wine to Me?
If only one bottle of grape juice tastes like wine to you, especially if it never did before, then it’s likely fermented or at least started to ferment. This means that yeast somehow found its way into your juice, which isn’t impossible.
The first time humans made wine was an almost guaranteed accident. But if every bottle of grape juice tastes like wine, then you might be great at identifying the taste of grapes in wine. In this case, it’s more like wine tastes like grape juice.
Wine is made from grape juice, so it’s not surprising to detect some similarities between the two. The fermentation process consumes the sugar in grape juice, however, so wine is less sweet.
Grape juice can be turned into cocktails or even homemade wine if you really love a certain kind of juice. Certain wines might hit the spot when it’s just sweetness and fruitiness that you’re looking for, rather than the flavor of grape juice.