These are boom times for the Instant Pot, a kitchen appliance that's amassed a rather alarming number of acolytes in a remarkably short amount of time. It’s a crossbreed of a pressure cooker and a slow cooker that’s been around since 2010, though it's been riding a wave of rabid popularity since late 2016. Since then, it's endeared thousands of American customers to its bewitching number of functionalities; there's even a bustling genre of cookbooks dedicated to it.
Food blogger and recipe developer David Murphy is one of those followers. Murphy, a New Jersey resident who worked in fine dining for over two decades, has had a 6-quart DUO Plus Instant Pot for a few months now. During the early days of his affair with the Instant Pot, he came across a meme on Facebook sarcastically asking why no one has figured out how to stick grapes inside a crockpot and make wine from it.
It was a joke. Murphy took it as a challenge.
Murphy pored over the scores of Instant Pot recipes floating in the ether, but he hadn't been able to find any other Instant Pot wine recipes, just some for mulled wine that began with store-bought wine as their base. So he decided to develop an Instant Pot wine recipe himself.
Murphy, a member of the Instant Pot Community Group on Facebook, pummeled the group’s administrators with endless questions about different settings.
"Then, my a-ha moment happened," he wrote MUNCHIES over email on Wednesday. "The Instant Pot has a Yogurt function, and you can use less heat. Before you knew it, I was shopping on Amazon and running to the store to grab juice and to test out my theory... and it worked!"
It resulted in a recipe he posted to his blog in early February, walking readers through the remarkably involved process that involves a 64-ounce bottle of Welch’s Grape Juice, a cup of granulated sugar, a packet of Lalvin Red Wine Yeast, clear packing tape, and a funnel. (The recipe is too intricate and diffuse to paraphrase here in full; it’s best you head directly to his site.)
The recipe, too, calls for an enormous supply of patience: The process takes 48 hours, followed by bottling and storing the solution in a dark, cool place for at least eight days. (It can be stored for up to a month, he notes in the recipe.) During this dormancy period, any residual fizz will vanish completely.
What's left is a wine that tastes a bit like a Merlot, in Murphy's view. "The grapes in the juice became alive and transformed into something more palatable," Murphy explained to MUNCHIES. "You can smell dark cherries and raw chocolate on the nose, and you can taste more complex flavors than what you started with.”
Murphy hopes that his efforts will kickstart a small revolution within other home cooks who may be find the urge, just as he had, to make their own wine. He admits it’s not the best wine you can hypothetically buy; it's more of “an extremely pleasant table wine” that he reckons may cost in the ballpark of eight to 12 dollars.
In other words, it's certainly better than Trader Joe’s two-buck chuck. That's not exactly terrible for someone who’d been expecting a colossal failure.