Is there anything the Instant Pot can’t do? With this multi-use electric pressure cooker, the Chatelaine Kitchen has perfected hardboiled eggs and even no-knead bread, so it was time to take this trusty Canadian invention to the next level—and make wine.
After reading about the wonders of Instant Pot wine when food blogger David Murphy’s recipe went somewhat viral last year, we were inspired to test out his process to see if it was legit. Could we actually transform a bottle of Welch’s concord grape juice into a drinkable alcoholic beverage with “hints of chocolate and dark cherries” on the nose and “a very palatable wine taste?” Even if we got something similar to the world’s most renowned concord grape wine, Manischewitz (a sickly sweet kosher red wine that’s generally considered terrible, but I love it), I’d consider this recipe a win.
How to make Instant Pot wine
As Murphy writes, you can’t just dump a bottle of Welch’s in your Instant Pot and hope for the best—wine making is serious business—even if you’re using a kitchen appliance that costs less than $200 at Canadian Tire (and also makes pulled pork).
A few weeks before we started brewing hooch at the office, we ordered red wine yeast from Amazon. Once it arrived, Chatelaine’s newly minted vintners got to work by pouring Welch’s 100% concord grape juice, yeast and a whole cup of sugar into the Instant Pot Duo Plus to let it mix and mingle on the yogurt setting for 48 hours. How easy is that? HINT: Not as easy as it sounds.
You need to vent the mixture every six to eight hours, which gets tricky considering the food team likes to go home to sleep. Luckily, some of our co-workers took on overnight venting duty for us (thank you!).
After all that work, does Instant Pot Wine taste any good?
Since we were dying of curiosity, we eagerly tasted the wine right at the 48-hour mark. It was pink, cloudy and bubbly, which meant that there was some fermentation going on (yay!). I took a big sniff and immediately got a headache instead of the chocolate and dark cherry notes Murphy waxed poetic about. One of my fellow testers said it tasted like green peppers (and not in a Cab Franc kind of way), and she wasn’t wrong. But we’re not ones to give up when it comes to office-brewing. No wonder it tasted terrible, we hadn’t let it age yet!
So our 2018 vintage went back into a Welch’s bottle and we tucked it away in a dark cupboard. We then tasted it again after both one and two weeks. Verdict? While the colour improved (it was now a rich burgundy), both trials reminded me of Manischewitz gone rancid.
Still optimistic, senior associate food editor Carolyn Chua suggested that perhaps we had created a great cooking wine or cocktail mixer! Could we mask the awful taste by mixing it with other food? She set out to see if our house wine would be more palatable in a trio of dishes and drinks: kalimotxo (a Spanish cocktail), wine-poached pears and gravy.
Cooking with Instant Pot wine
This Basque cocktail consists of equal parts red wine and Coca-Cola. I used to mix these up at Passover to improve my Manischewitz game. With Instant Pot wine, this usually super-drinkable concoction could only be described as one thing: gross.
Red wine–poached pears
Finally! Success! I can get behind this Instant Pot wine-infused dessert, mainly because the sweet and juicy pear was the only thing I tasted.
At first, I thought this preparation was pretty yummy, but then, the haunting aftertaste hit me: Instant Pot vino all the way.
The verdict on Instant Pot wine
You’re better off drinking your Welch’s straight up and saving yourself 48-hours of work. While the prospect of making your own wine in a freakin’ Instant Pot sounds both satisfying and hilarious, it’s just not worth it (unless you hate your tastebuds). You’re better off buying a cheap-and-cheerful bottle from your nearest liquor store—there are plenty of palatable reds available for less than $10, including Manischewitz.