Damson Wine Recipe – Rich & Perfect For Aging

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Damson Wine recipe

Damsons or the Damson plum as the name suggests are a close relative to the plum and a member of the Rose family. They are a common tree to find in many gardens and wild throughout the UK which means many people have a glut of them in early autumn and don’t know what to do with them.

If you do have a glut or you have found a few trees growing wild then one of the best things to do with them is to make wine, this Damson wine recipe is a really nice wine and one that will get better and better over the space of a year or two.

Damsons a similar in shape and colour to plums but the flavour is definitely a bit different. Damsons are rarely eaten raw or straight from the tree and if you have tried you will know why. There is a level of acidity and tannin that makes eating them raw a challenge rather than a pleasure.

The high levels of tannin and the tartness provided by the acidity, however, is what makes Damsons so good for making wine. Rich full bodied red wines are the result of the naturally high tannin content. Many fruit wines require the addition of tannin to boost levels but with Damsons, there is enough already present in the skin of the fruit to not need to make any additions.

The high tannin level is also what makes the resulting Damson wine age so well. Astringency in wine needs a little time to balance itself out. At first sample, a Damson wine can seem too bitter and this can be a time when people are tempted to back sweeten the wine. If you hold off on this temptation however and bottle the wine and set it aside for a year, the results can be truly remarkable.

Preparing Damsons For Making Wine

Damsons, like plums, have a stone. This will need to be removed before making wine as the stone will introduce far too much bitterness. The best way to prepare the damsons is to wash, destem and remove any bad fruit, cut them in halves and remove the stone.

The prepared damsons can then either be used straight away or what I prefer to do is freeze them. Leave them in the freezer for a few days or as long as you like. When you come to make the wine take them out to defrost and you will find all the juices will release themselves. This is perfect for winemaking, freezing the damsons breaks down their structure meaning we can extract a lot more juice, sugar and flavour a lot quicker. Be sure to save all the juices as the damsons thaw and add them to the wine.

What You’ll Need To Make Damson Wine – Makes 1 gallon / 4.5 litres

You will only need a small amount of equipment to make this wine. We can supply winemaking equipment if you don’t already have it, check the online shop here.

Damson Wine Ingredients

Damson Wine Method

  1. If you have frozen your damsons then get them out of the freezer ahead of time so they have thawed before you start.
  2. Place the damsons in a wine straining bag in a sanitised fermenting bucket. Take a sanitised potato masher and begin to mash the damson to release the juices and break down their structure.
  3. Put the sugar and half the water into a pan and begin to heat to a boil. Be sure all the sugar dissolves and doesn’t catch on the pan. Once boiling remove from the heat and pour over the damsons in straining bag. Give the must a good stir and then add the remaining half of cool water which will help bring the temperature down. All to cool to room temperature.
  4. Once the must has cooled to around room temperature add the Campden tablet, stir and leave for 12 hours.
  5. After 12 hours add the acid blend, pectic enzyme and yeast nutrient and mix thoroughly, leave for another 12 hours.
  6. After this time has elapsed add the yeast by sprinkling onto the surface of the must. Leave to ferment for 7 – 10 days stirring each day.
  7. After at least a week lift out the straining bag and what is left of the damsons. Allow all the liquid to thoroughly drain back into the fermenter. Leave the wine to settle for the next few days and you can take a hydrometer reading at this point if you wish to.
  8. Once signs of fermentation have slowed down or stopped, rack the wine into a demijohn and fit a bung and airlock. Leave the wine to condition and settle, you may need to rack the wine to a clean demijohn after a month as the sediment builds up. Rack the wine as necessary until it is completely clear.
  9. Once cleared it is advisable to let the wine bulk age for at least 3 – 6 months before bottling.
  10. The wine can be sampled and checked to see if you want to back sweeten it. Damson wine is a good candidate to have slightly sweet but do be cautious as when the wine is young it can seem slightly astringent. After aging, it becomes mellower. Use this method if you intend to back sweeten.
  11. Bottle the wine and set aside, the longer the better. This damson wine really comes into its own after a year and only gets better after this.
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Gooseberry Wine Recipe – Fantastic White Wine

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Gooseberries may not be one of the cool kids in the world of berries. Often overlooked for strawberries, blackberries or blueberries in terms of eating but for winemaking the gooseberry is a king amongst berries. This gooseberry wine recipe will tame the tartness of these little green berries to make a fantastic wine.

Gooseberry wine recipe

A lot of people have a love/hate relationship with gooseberries. I think this is due to the fact they can be extremely tart. The most common culinary use for gooseberries is to add lots of sugar to act as a buffer against the tartness. In a wine though the tartness can be welcome, many wine yeasts like Lalvin 71B-1122 metabolise the acid content in fruit and naturally mellow out the acid bite that gooseberries provide.

Acid is a key component in wine, that is why we add it to a lot of the fruit wine recipes you can see here on Home Brew Answers. Acidity in wine is important to balance the flavours, sweetness and acidity balance each other if present in the right quantities.

Most fruits with the exception of a few like wine grapes don’t have the required acidity to fully balance the wine and can leave the finished wine tasting thin, insipid and flabby. Fortunately, gooseberries, as we know, have a high acid content. This means no additional acid additions are required.

Preparing Gooseberries For Wine Making

Only choose good fruit for your gooseberry wine, any fruit with bad spots or damage should be discarded. If you source your fruit from a pick your own farm or your own garden you will, of course, be sorting the gooseberries as you pick, you just need to wash the fruit.

Make sure all stems are removed, there are occasionally little brown tails on gooseberries which are fine to leave on.

Gooseberries are occasionally available in the supermarket but seem pretty rare to find, also there are some that grow wild and in hedgerows. These are usually cultivated varieties that have escaped into the wild which are fine to use as long as you are 100% certain you have correctly identified them.

There is also the question of colour, most varieties of gooseberry are green and will produce a white wine but there are pink and red varieties that will produce a slightly blush wine.

What You’ll Need To Make Gooseberry Wine – Makes 1 gallon / 4.5 litres

The equipment needed for this gooseberry wine recipe is fairly straightforward. You will need the following items, you can pick up any equipment you may need in our shop here.

  • Fermenting Bucket
  • Demijohn
  • Large Pan
  • Syphon
  • Fine Straining Bag
  • Potato Masher
  • Airlock & Bung

Gooseberry Wine Ingredients

Gooseberry Wine Method

  1. In a pan heat 2 litres of water and add the sugar, bring to a boil for a few minutes then remove from the heat.
  2. Meanwhile take the washed and prepared gooseberries and place them in the straining bag, put the straining bag in a sanitised fermenting bucket and begin to crush all the berries to break them up.
  3. Pour the hot sugar solution over the gooseberries and mix thoroughly, add the remaining 2.2 litres of water which will bring the temperature down in the rest of the must, add the yeast nutrient and a 3-4 hours later when the must has cooled further add the campden tablet and mix thoroughly
  4. 12 hours after adding the campden tablet add the pectolase which will aid juice and flavour extraction. Mix and leave for a further 24 hours.
  5. After the 24 hours sprinkle the yeast on the surface of the must. Allow the wine to ferment for around a week and then lift out the bag with the remainder of the gooseberries. Allow fermentation to continue for a further week.
  6. After the two weeks rack the wine to a carboy, you can check the gravity at this point should you wish, fermetation should be pretty much complete at around 1.000 or lower. Once racked into a demijohn seal with a bung and airlock.
  7. You can wait for the gooseberry wine to completely clear before racking to a new vessel. Leave the wine for at least 4 months before bottling. If you wish to back-sweeten the wine stabilise and follow this advice here.

Simple & Easy Plum Wine Recipe

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Plums come in many different forms, sharp, sweet, yellow, red or purples. You have plums suited for cooking whilst others are best eaten straight from the tree. The great thing about them though is if you have a tree nearby you can usually get quite an impressive glut of them, depending on the year and they make a fantastic wine. This Plum wine recipe is simple and easy and it doesn’t matter what variety of plums, whether they are Victoria, Goldens or Damsons.

Plum Wine Recipe

As there are so many different types of plums is makes the finishing wine a little variable, as an example you get some plums that are nearly black in colour, these are going to make a much darker wine than victoria plums for instance which are a more blushed pink colour.

There are some basic rules of thumb for getting the best wine whatever kind of plums you use, firstly, you want to get the ripest fruit possible. The riper the fruit the higher the concentrations of sugar and juice and this always makes for a better finished wine. Plum wine can have a tendency to be a tad thin bodied and mild flavoured so harvesting your plums at the point where they are most fully flavoured is key to your wines success.

Plum trees are pretty common in the UK and more often than not, if you have a plum tree in your garden, you will have a glut around the end of August or September. Plum trees can be really productive and you only really need around 1.5 – 2kg per gallon of plum wine so you will have more than enough.

If you want to make this plum wine but don’t have any trees nearby then you can buy plums in. I would recommend you still wait until the fruit is in season rather than buying imported fruit. British fruit when in season tends to have a slightly fuller flavour and because they aren’t travelling as far the plums will be riper and have higher sugar content.

Preparing Plums For Wine Making

To prepare the fruit for wine making you will need to pick through the plums and discard any bad or damaged fruit, give them a wash and then remove the stem and the stones. You should leave the skin on the fruit as this will provide colour and a small amount of tannin which is desirable. Cut the fruit into quarters over a bowl to save all the juices that come out of them.

What You’ll Need To Make Plum Wine – Makes 1 gallon / 4.5 litres

The equipment needed for this plum wine recipe is fairly straightforward. You will need the following items, you can pick up any equipment you do need here.

  • Fermenting Bucket
  • Demijohn
  • Medium Pan
  • Funnel
  • Syphon
  • Potato Masher
  • Fine Straining Bag
  • Airlock & Bung

Plum Wine Ingredients

Method

  1. Place the wine straining bag in the sanitised fermentation bucket into this add the prepared plums. Mash the plums with a sanitised potato masher to break them up and free the juices.
  2. In a medium pan combine the water and sugar and bring to the boil, ensure all the sugar is fully dissolved. Once boiling turn off the heat, pour the hot sugar solution over the plums secured in the straining bag.
  3. Allow to cool to room temperature and then add the Campden tablet, tannin, acid blend and yeast nutrient and mix thoroughly. 12 hours after this add the pectic enzyme to the must and mix again.
  4. After 24 hours has passed you can sprinkle the sachet of yeast onto the surface of the must. Allow to ferment for around a week stirring daily.
  5. After a week lift out the straining bag and allow to thoroughly drain. Let it settle for a few days and then rack the wine into a clean and sanitised demijohn, attach a bung and airlock and leave the wine to condition and settle for around a month.
  6. As the wine clears and the sediment builds up rack to a clean demijohn again. I like to leave this wine in the demijohn for around 4-5 months and then bottle. This plum wine is fairly dry but it is also particularly good if you like sweeter wines, to learn how to back sweeten this wine then see this guide.

What Is Wine Tannin & How To Use It

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Wine Tannin

Tannin also known as tannic acid is a compound found in wines, most notably red wines that give them a pleasing dryness. Wine tannin is also an additive for increasing the tannin present particularly in country wines that use fruit, vegetables or flowers. If you look at some of the wine recipes here you will see it is in most of the fruit wines even if it is only a tiny amount. What is wine tannin and why is it needed? That is what we are going to cover in this article.

What is Wine Tannin

Tannin is an astringent polyphenol that is naturally occurring in plants, wood, bark and leaves. You have probably heard people describe some red wines as having high tannin content. This is because of grape skins, seeds and stems contain tannins. Different varieties of grape contain more tannin than others and this is why certain varieties of wine are characterised by having an astringency.

Wood also contains tannin and it is notable that wine aged in barrels and wooden casks are more astringent than other wines. The word tannin refers to the use of wood used in tanning process of turning animal skins into leather.

Unripe fruit has a higher tannin content than ripe fruit and this trait stops animals from eating the fruit before the seeds are ready to be dispersed by these animals, tannin in the leaves also inhibits predation by herbivores.

In a similar fashion, grape growers can monitor the tannin content of grapes, when the tannin content drops low enough as the grapes ripen they can determine the best time to harvest the grapes produce a balanced wine. A wine that has the right amount of tannin and is not too astringent at the same time as having the correct dryness, balance and mouthfeel.

Tannin is produced by extraction using a solvent from organic matter such as grape skins. The liquid is called tannic acid and is then dried which produces a tannin powder.

Adding Tannin to Fruit Wines

Wine making grapes have a tannin content that makes wines that have a pleasing astringency. For the country wine maker however, there are not many fruits that have a similar level of tannin. This is a problem because the character that emerges in some fruit wines with low amounts of tannin is flat and dull. It can seem as if there is something missing.

Many older recipes call for tea to be added to a wine. Strong tea is astringent because it is full of tannins. Adding tea was a simple method to introduce tannin to a fruit wine that had low levels of tannin.

Elderberries contain a level of tannin close to wine making grapes, blueberries and blackberries have some but not quite at the level of grapes. In the case of most fruit red wines you make at home, the addition of wine tannin is beneficial to the quality of the wine. White wines will usually not require an addition of tannin or only very tiny amounts.

Wine tannin is a brown powdered additive which makes it extremely easy to adjust your wine. Just add tannin to the must and mix thoroughly.

What we really hope to achieve by adding tannin is to mimic the mouthfeel and dryness that we find pleasant in grape wines. Now, this is of course down to personal preference, some people find even the smallest amount of astringency unappealing, others like it. So how much tannin is needed?

Tannin

How Much Tannin To Add?

Most tannin comes in powdered form here in the UK and in most cases, the package recommends around 1/8 – 1/2 teaspoon per gallon of wine. This is a rough guide, I would, however, suggest following a recipe rather than adding one teaspoon into every wine you make.

White wines, for example, will often need less tannin than red wines. Some fruits like elderberries and blueberries already have a modest amount of tannin in their skins so will require less. If a recipe states how much tannin to add then follow that advice.

The good thing about adding tannin is you can add it at any point before, during or after fermentation.

I will always add a small amount of tannin before fermentation, allow the wine to ferment and condition and when it comes time to rack the wine to a new vessel, test a sample. At this point, I can see if more tannin is required to balance the texture of the wine and dry it out further.

It is always best to add a little, then add more if necessary. It is more difficult to cover up excess tannin so err on the side of caution

If you are unsure of how much tannin to add then add a small amount, you can always add more if required after testing a sample. The next time you come to make the wine you will have a better idea of exactly how much tannin will be needed.

What Is Pectic Enzyme & What Does It Do?

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Pectic enzyme is included in many of the wine recipes here on Home Brew Answers, it is an integral additive in the winemaker’s arsenal. Did you know it even has uses in beer making depending on what kind of beer you are brewing? When you see it included in a home brew recipe you may wonder why it is needed, that is what we are going to cover in this article.

Pectic Enzyme

What is Pectin?

Pectic enzyme or pectolase is a fairly common ingredient in the vast majority of fruit wines and fruit beers because many fruits contain pectin.

Pectin is a type of carbohydrate called a polysaccharide which helps maintain the structure of a plant or fruit. The effects of pectin as a gelling agent are most evident in things like jam making where pectin is the key ingredient to set a jam after being heated with sugar. If you don’t have enough pectin in your fruit when making a jam it won’t set and stays runny.

There are some fruits that have higher amounts of pectin, fruits such as pears, apples, plums gooseberries and citrus fruit have high amounts whilst softer fruits like strawberries, grapes and apricots have lower levels of pectin.

Pectin is important when you are cooking and want something to set or gel together but for the winemaker or brewer introducing fruit with high levels of pectin can be problematic for several reasons.

Pectins Effect On Wine or Beer

If you are making a fruit/vegetable wine or a beer with a lot of fruit in then you are introducing pectin to a liquid. If you don’t take preventative measures it’s highly likely there will be a permanent haze in the finished wine or beer. This can be fine in some styles of beer where haze is a natural occurrence but it is definitely not good for wine, I can’t think of any instances where a haze in a wine is acceptable.

The other problem caused by having pectin in your wine is that if you intend to filter the wine prior to bottling then it is very easy for the filter to get blocked and stop running at all.

Fortunately, it is easy to reduce the amount of pectin in your wine or beer using a pectic enzyme which is also referred to as pectolase.

Using pectic enzyme has the following effects:

  1. It breaks down the fruit you are trying to extract juice and flavour from. After you pulp or mash a fruit pectin still acts as a structural member, using pectic enzyme breaks this structure getting more juice and flavour into the wine.
  2. Prevents pectin forming a haze in the finished wine or beer.
  3. Aids filtering should this be part of the process prior to packaging.

Using Pectic Enzyme / Pectolase

Pectic enzyme is a protein that works specifically to break down pectin. It is recommended you use this in almost all fruit wines you make, even commercial wine producers will add pectic enzyme as it aids juice extraction.

This is the reason why it is desirable to add pectolase before fermentation as you will produce a wine better colour, clarity and you will importantly extract more juice and flavour from the fruit you are using.

How Much To Add and When to Add Pectolase

The typical dosage for pectolase is 1tsp per gallon added directly to the wine “must” and stirred thoroughly before fermentation. If you forget to add it before fermentation you can add pectic enzyme later but you will have less juice extracted from the fruit. It will not inhibit yeast growth or activity if added later.

Elderflower Wine Recipe – Light To Medium Bodied

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Elderflower Wine Recipe

Elderflower wine has one of those flavours that is so distinct you cannot really compare it to anything else. That elusive floral bouquet seems to be amplified in a wine and the number of elderflower bushes in the UK makes it one of the most popular ingredients for wine making. Most people opt to make an elderflower champagne but in all honesty, I prefer an elderflower wine, the elderflowers really do fill the palate even without the bubbles.

Elderflowers have a unique flavour all of their own in most cases you either like it or you don’t. If you like something like an elderflower cordial or presse then this wine recipe really does showcase that distinct flavour and aroma.

Picking Elderflowers

As Elderflower bushes are so abundant around the UK finding and picking Elderflowers is your best option for making a wine.

One of the great benefits of elderflowers in the use of winemaking is the ease of harvesting. The flower heads grow in umbels so it is just a case of snipping the whole flower head at the base of the umbel. When harvesting the flowers I would recommend taking a few from each bush you encounter rather than taking all the flowers from each bush.

It should be noted that if you are picking your own Elderflowers that you are 100% certain you have correctly identified the plant as an elder bush. Once you spot a few bushes they are quite easy to identify using a field guide for confirmation.

When to Pick Elderflowers

Elderflowers will start appearing in early June so keep an eye out for them at this point. If they stay on the bush too long the flowers will start to go brown. You should be able to harvest some throughout June into July in most places in the UK.

When you go picking take a curved handled walking stick and you’ll be able to hook down branches to get some of the florets that are higher up on the bush.

To make a gallon of this wine you will need roughly 24 elderflower heads which should take you no time at all to pick. Any more than this and the wine can become a little too pungent.

Using Dried Elderflowers

You can make this wine with dried elderflowers should you not be able to pick your own. As they are dried you will need to use a lot less, check the details of the recipe down below for exact quantities.

Preparing The Elderflowers

When you pick the Elderflowers, give them a gentle shake to dislodge any debris or bugs before putting them in an open container, if you seal the container or bag the flowers will sweat and turn brown.

You can wash the flower heads whilst they are intact and this is recommended, especially, if you picked the flowers next to a bust road.

Elderflower Wine Picking

You will also need to strip the flowers from the stalks, they best way to accomplish this is once the flowers are picked and are dry grab a fork and comb the flowers from the stalks into a bowl. It’s a fairly simple process and will result in a much better wine.

What You’ll Need To Make Elderflower Wine – Makes 1 gallon / 4.5 litres

The equipment needed for this Elderflower wine recipe is fairly straightforward. You will need the following items, you can pick up any equipment you may need in our shop here.

  • Fermenting Bucket
  • Demijohn
  • Large Pan
  • Funnel
  • Syphon
  • Fine Straining Bag / Sieve
  • Airlock & Bung

Elderflower Wine Ingredients

  • 24 Elderflower heads, flowers removed from stalks or 20g Dried Elderflowers
  • 1.2kg of Sugar
  • 4 litres of Water
  • 1 Campden tablet
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 tsp Yeast Nutrient
  • 1/4 tsp Wine Tannin
  • 1 Sachet of Wine Yeast (Our recommendation is Lalvin 71B 1122)

Elderflower Wine Method

  1. Remove the zest from the lemon taking care not to grate the white pith, add this to the sanitised fermenting bucket along with the Elderflowers.
  2. Bring 4 litres of water to a boil and add the sugar to dissolve, pour over the flowers and the lemon zest. Allow to cool and add the Campden tablet, yeast nutrient, tannin and the juice of the lemon, mix and leave for 24 hours.
  3. After 24 hours pitch the yeast into the fermenter, allow the wine to ferment for at least 6 days until activity starts to slow down.
  4. After the initial burst of fermentation activity pass the wine through a sieve or straining bag into a sanitised demijohn. It is probably easiest to accomplish by placing a funnel in the demijohn with a sieve or straining bag in it.
  5. Let the Elderflower wine complete fermentation and condition in the demijohn for at least a 2 – 3 months, racking off the sediment as and when needed. Check this guide for more information.
  6. Once cleared you may wish to stabilise the wine before bottling, this Elderflower wine is best sampled after around 6 months but will last well for a year or two.

Rhubarb Wine Recipe – How to Make A Delicious Rhubarb Wine

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Rhubarb Wine Recipe

Rhubarb Wine is actually a vegetable wine, although, rhubarb is the vegetable that is almost always used like you would a fruit. The sharp tartness is a great quality that really shines through in a country wine so this rhubarb wine recipe is a definite winner.

Most people will be familiar with rhubarb in the form of rhubarb Crumble. Plenty of sugar helps to restrain the acidity and tartness of the rhubarb. If you like the taste of rhubarb then you’ll be pleased to know the flavour comes through in the finished wine.

The reason why rhubarb is so tart is because the stems contain an excess amount of oxalic acid. This is also the reason why some people have an aversion to rhubarb. Too much oxalic acid is bad for wine yeast and may result in poor fermentation so we will take this into account when preparing the recipe.

Reducing the amount of acid is a fairly simple process of making a small addition of chalk which causes a reaction and reduces the acidity in the wine. Apart from this one small step the process is the same as almost any country wine recipe.

It should be noted that rhubarb leaves should not be used in wine or eaten. The levels of oxalic acid are far too high and can in fact be poisonous (you would have to eat a lot for it to be problematic). The stems are perfectly edible and can be used in wine. Rhubarb is always sold without leaves so it’s only really an issue if you are picking your own rhubarb..

Pectic Enzyme

Using Rhubarb In A Wine

Rhubarb has two crops in a year, the first crop is forced rhubarb and is grown earlier in the year, around January to February. The stems and leaves are grown under pots and the result is a pale pink stem that is more delicately flavoured and tender.

The second crop of rubarb is grown outside and arrives late March until June, the resulting crop is slightly hardier darker in colour and contains more oxalic acid than the forced rhubarb. This stronger flavour may be less desirable to cook with but is still great to make wine with.

Later in the season some rhubarb stems can become a bit tough and stringy which makes these stems less desirable to eat but still fantastic to make wine with. If you grow rhubarb yourself then consider using the larger and tougher stems to make a wine.

What You’ll Need To Make Rhubarb Wine – Makes 1 gallon / 4.5 litres

The equipment you’ll need to make this rhubarb wine is fairly straightforward if you’ve made wine before you may have everything you need, if not check out our shop where you can pick up the stuff you might not have:

  • Fermenting Bucket
  • Demijohns
  • Large Pan
  • Syphon
  • Fine Straining Bag
  • Airlock & Bung

Rhubarb Wine Recipe Ingredients

Rhubarb Wine Method

  1. In a clean and sanitised fermentation bucket add the rhubarb stalks cut up into inch pieces and chopped raisins to a straining bag. Break up the rhubarb slightly with the end of a rolling pin, just enough to split the stalks, you don’t need to completely mash them.
  2. In a pan combine the sugar with 1.9 litres of water and bring to the boil. Once boiling turn off the heat and pour over the ingredients in the straining bag. When the mixture is cool add the campden tablet, stir thoroughly and let stand for 48 hours.
  3. After 48 hours lift out the straining bag and squeeze out the juice. Into the remaining liquid add 1/4 tsp of Calcium Carbonate (Precipitated Chalk) every 30 minutes stirring thoroughly. The mixture will fizz as the chalk reacts with the oxalic acid.
  4. After this step add the pectic enzyme, stir and leave for 24 hours.
  5. After 24 hours add the tannin along with the yeast nutrient, mix thoroughly and then sprinkle the yeast on the surface of the must.
  6. Allow to ferment for two weeks before racking to a demijohn to allow the wine to condition and clear. Leave in the demijohn for a few months until completely clear racking to a new demijohn when necessary. Check these steps for more information on racking and maturing wine.
  7. Rhubarb wine is best left for the best part of a year before enjoying, maybe open a bottle once every few months to see what I mean.

Blueberry Wine Recipe – Full-Bodied and Beginner Friendly

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This Blueberry wine recipe is the perfect choice for the beginning winemaker, it also produces a fantastic wine that is full of the flavour of Blueberries, what could be better than that.

When you look at the blueberry it does almost look like a small grape, that is not to say it blueberries have the same qualities as grapes do for making wine they need a little help from you the winemaker. What blueberries do have though is lots of flavour and colour. This wine recipe makes a rich dark wine similar in colour to a Bordeaux or Syrah.

Blueberry Wine Recipe

This deep dark colour comes from the skins of the blueberries just as would come from the skins in a grape wine. If you cut a blueberry in half you will notice the inside of the berry has a green hue. The result of this blueberry wine recipe, however, is a deep, dark violet. The colour is extracted from the skins as they sit in the fermenter macerating. Yeast and a slowly increasing alcohol content both help this process along as well as drawing the flavour and sugar from the fruit.

A Basic But Delicious Blueberry Wine

The reason this wine recipe is such a good wine to make for the beginner is the ease of the process and the resulting wine is delicious. Many fruit wine recipes require lots of small tweaks and refining to produce a decent result whereas the blueberry wine produces a good wine even if you don’t get everything just right.

There are a few additives that you’ll want in this blueberry wine, these are just the usual suspects of any fruit wine. Acid blend and tannin are required for the vast majority of fruit wines and this blueberry wine is no exception. You should have these kinds of additives, along with pectic enzyme and yeast nutrients to hand for any fruit wine you intend to make.

The blueberries you use, whether they are frozen or fresh, is up to you. As long as the fruit is good quality and ripe you should be in for a decent blueberry wine. Frozen fruit tends to be picked when it’s riper than fresh fruit from the supermarket in this case picking the frozen fruit will result in a better wine. Freezing the fruit will also break down the cells of the fruit releasing the juices and flavour better than just mashing the fruit.

I have used frozen blueberries for this recipe. You can get them year round and they are much cheaper than fresh berries.

If you can get hold of wild blueberries you can, of course, use these, picked at their ripest and being able to choose the highest quality blueberries will make a superior wine. There aren’t many places in the UK that blueberries grow in the wild, they like heathland with acidic soil and are often called bilberries or blaeberries. If you do intend to pick berries yourself make sure you have properly identified them as blueberries as they can be easily confused with other varieties of plant. You can grow blueberries in pots in the garden so this might be worth considering if you intend to make a batch of blueberry wine every year, it’s a good recipe so definitely worth considering.

To make this blueberry wine recipe you’ll need the following piece of equipment, pick up all the equipment you need here:

  • Fermenting Bucket
  • Nylon Straining Bag
  • 1 Gallon Demijohn
  • Bung & Airlock
  • Potato Masher
  • Hydrometer
  • Syphon
  • Bottles, Corks and Corker

The Blueberry Wine Recipe Ingredients – Makes 4.5 litres / 1 gallon around 12% ABV

1.4kg Blueberries fresh or frozen (clean and prepared)
1kg Sugar
4.2 litres Water
2 tsp Citric Acid
1/8 tsp Tannin
1 tsp Yeast Nutrient
1/2 tsp Pectic Enzyme
1 Campden Tablet
1 sachet Wine Yeast (My recommendations – Vintners Reserve R56 / Lalvin 71B / Lalvin EC1118)

Blueberry Wine Recipe Method

Blueberry Wine

  1. Dissolve the sugar and half the water together in a pan by bringing to the boil. Ensure all of the sugar is fully dissolved and then turn off the heat.
  2. Whilst heating the sugar and water put the blueberries in a straining bag in the bottom of the fermenting bucket. Use the potato masher to squash the blueberries and break them up. They don’t need to be pureed but make sure all the blueberries are squashed and the juices released.
  3. Pour the boiled sugar and water solution over the blueberries and mix well with the fruit. Add the second half of the water which will help to cool down the must.
  4. Add the citric acid, the wine nutrient and the tannin and mix thoroughly, leave for a few hours to cool further and then add a crushed Campden tablet and for at least 12 hours.
  5. After 12 hours add the pectic enzyme and leave the must for 24 hours. After this, you can test with a hydrometer if you wish for the starting gravity.
  6. After the 24 hours add the yeast to begin fermentation. Allow fermentation to go on for a week and stir once every one or two days, this helps extract as much flavour from the fruit as possible which will have the tendency to float.
  7. After a week lift out the straining bag with the pulp and allow to drain as much as possible, avoid squeezing the bag.
    Take a hydrometer reading, if the wine is below 1.010 specific gravity rack the wine into a sanitised demijohn. If not leave for a further few days and check the gravity again. Once racked attach a bung and airlock and leave.
  8. Wait for at least 2 months or more and the wine can then be racked off the sediment. You can wait for the blueberry wine to completely clear before racking to a new vessel. After this either let it age further for a few months or bottle. If you wish to back-sweeten the wine stabilise and follow this advice here.

This blueberry wine recipe will make a wine of around 12% ABV. It is best squirrelled away for a while to condition and mature. It keeps well for a couple of years, try and keep some around to sample and you will begin to understand how the wine changes with time.

How To Stabilise And Back Sweeten A Wine

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Back Sweetening Wine

One of the issues many new winemakers face is making a wine that is simply too dry, back sweetening a wine is a simple remedy that can transform the finished wine.

Back sweetening ranges from turning a really dry wine into a semi-dry wine that isn’t necessarily sweet, but suits your taste better. Or you can go all the way to creating a dessert wine that tastes sweet as dessert wines are intended to.

It is most often the case with fruit wines that rely on sugar as the primary fermentable. Plain sugar is 100% fermentable so when the yeast ferment the wine all of the sugars gets converted to alcohol leaving no residual sweetness. A wine that is too dry is fairly easy to remedy by back sweetening but you’ll need to make sure of a few things before just adding sugar to the wine.

Back Sweetening a wine involves adding a type of sugar or sweetener back into the already fermented wine. Before you can do this we need to make sure that the sugar we add isn’t going to start a second fermentation. To do this the wine needs to be stabilised which needs to be done once fermentation is completely finished and the wine has cleared.

When To Stabilise A Wine?

To stabilise a wine we need to use additives such as potassium sorbate, it should be noted though that these kinds of additives won’t stop an active fermentation. The idea is to use the minimum amount of additives necessary to stabilise a wine. We don’t want to add lots of potassium sorbate in case it alters the flavour or colour of the wine.

The point where you want to stabilise a wine is once the fermentation is completely finished, we can check this using a hydrometer, in most cases, a fruit wine will finish at a specific gravity around or below 0.998 – 1.000. Secondly, we want the wine to have cleared, with the yeast sedimented to the bottom. If the wine is still hazy the yeast may be in suspension still so trying to stabilise the wine at this point would not work effectively. To stabilise a wine you’ll need an additive called potassium sorbate as well as sodium metabisulphite (Campden Tablets).

What Is Potassium Sorbate and Sodium Metabisulphite?

Potassium sorbate is an additive used extensively in the food industry as a preservative also called E202. It is used to prevent the growth of mould and yeast which is ideal for the winemaker.

The way it works is not to kill the yeast but to stop the yeast from reproducing. This means any live yeast will continue to ferment any sugars available but won’t be able to reproduce new yeast cells. This is why we need to completely finish fermentation before stabilising the wine.

Sodium Metabisulphite is more commonly known as Campden tablets to home winemakers, it works as a disinfectant, preservative and antioxidant in food. This inhibits the yeast but also prevents oxidisation in the wine which stabilises the flavour and colour of the wine

How To Stabilise A Wine?

Once the wine is at a point where you are ready to stabilise, of course, you will have sampled the wine and tested with a hydrometer, you’ll need to rack the cleared wine off any sediment into a new vessel. As we will be adding potassium sorbate and mixing any sediment will be stirred back into the wine which is not what we want.

Now with the wine in a new vessel, we can add the potassium sorbate and Campden tablet. You should pay attention to the recommended dosage instructed on the packages you have just in case they are differing strengths. The common dosage is 3/4 tsp of potassium sorbate and one Campden tablet.

Dissolve the additives in a small amount of boiled and cooled water until clear, the solution can then be added to the wine and mixed gently. Leave the wine for at least 12 hours before doing anything else.

Back Sweeten Your Wine

Wine Sugar Solution

There are a few options as to what to sweeten your wine with. Plain sugar is the simplest, dissolve the sugar in water at a ratio of 1:1 and it can be dosed into the wine. Another option is to use a fruit juice. Grape juice, for instance, is going to add both flavour and sweetness that may be more desirable than just adding sugar. Glycerine is another option, it’s a liquid polyol that is colourless, flavourless and odourless that tastes really sweet plus it’s unfermentable as well. It’s also sold in home brew shops as wine sweetener as well as some pharmacies.

To keep things simple let’s say we want to back sweeten with sugar. You will want to dissolve a small amount of sugar, say 100 grams in 100 ml of water by boiling to create a sugar solution.

A small amount of this sugar solution can then be added to the wine. Add very small amounts, mix and test, it is very easy to over sweeten a wine.

To work out roughly how much you’ll need to use it’s you can take a small sample of wine to back sweeten. Take a small sample (100ml) of wine and add a few drops of the sugar solution at a time (a drop is 0.05 ml), keep sampling the wine to see when you reach the correct level of sweetness. Once you hit your sweetness extrapolate out the amount of sugar to the whole batch.

This same method is applicable if you are using fruit juice or other sweeteners.

It’s not an exact science but this method will give you a rough amount to aim for but always be prudent, you can’t really dry out an over sweetened wine. If you wanted to make a dessert wine, for example, with this strawberry wine simply add enough sugar so the balance is on the sweet side. Always sweeten the wine in bulk to get consistent results, it’s not a good idea to try and back sweeten by the bottle.

Strawberry Wine Recipe: The Only Recipe You’ll Ever Need

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Strawberries, one of my favourite fruits, how can you capture that taste in a strawberry wine recipe? With any fruit wine recipe, the main flavour you want to really shine is the fruit you are using and sometimes it is tough to find that balance.This Strawberry wine recipe finds that balance with the delicate flavour of fresh strawberries tuned in with a crisp and slightly dry wine. There isn’t lots of body to this strawberry wine but it is most definitely refreshing, crisp and the strawberries shine through right until the last drop.

Delicious Strawberry Wine

Strawberries have to be one of the most popular choices for a fruit wine. I don’t know of many people who don’t like eating strawberries and I think this turns into a desire to translate this into a wine recipe. In the UK in the summer the shops are full of strawberries, supermarkets buy them by the pallet load and you can generally pick and choose what varieties you may want to use in your strawberry wine recipe.

When it comes to selecting your strawberries for a wine it is a case of the riper the better. It’s most often the case that when you buy strawberries in a supermarket they are around 75 – 85% ripe this is because the shelf life of fully ripe strawberries is a lot shorter. Once you pick a strawberry they do not ripen any further, they will colour more but won’t ripen and get sweeter. Using strawberries for your wine that are only 80% ripe can be fine but there are other options to get sweeter strawberries.

Pick your own farms will give you the option to select fruit that is completely ripened, you have the choice of picking exactly the strawberries you want. This means that you can quality control each and every strawberry that will go in your strawberry wine and you can go from picking to processing the strawberries in a matter of hours. Another option is to use frozen strawberries, the great thing about frozen strawberries is they are most often picked when they are riper as they are frozen quickly after picking they won’t degrade on the shelf at the shop. The other thing with frozen strawberries is they are usually already prepared with the green part removed and often they’re cheaper than the fresh.

Strawberry Wine

This strawberry wine recipe I have used frozen strawberries although it’s completely fine if not better to use fresh, ripe fruit. I’m making this in winter so fresh strawberries are not in season. One thing I will mention about freezing is that when the fruit is frozen it breaks down the cells when you defrost the strawberries the juice pretty much runs out of the fruit which is great for making wine. The first thing we will be doing in this recipe is mash the berries to break them up.

Mashed Strawberries

To make this strawberry wine you’ll need the following piece of equipment which you can pick up here if you don’t have already:

  • Fermenting Bucket
  • Nylon Straining Bag
  • 1 Gallon Demijohn 
  • Bung & Airlock
  • Potato Masher
  • Hydrometer
  • Syphon
  • Bottles, Corks and Corker

Strawberry Wine Recipe Ingredients – Makes 4.5 litres / 1 gallon

 

Strawberry Wine Recipe Method

  1. Begin by boiling the water and sugar together, ensure the sugar is fully dissolved. Once at a boil turn off the heat.
  2. If you are using fresh strawberries prepare them by removing the stems and washing, pick through and remove any bad fruit.
  3. Place the nylon straining bag into the fermenting bin, add the prepared strawberries and begin mashing with a clean, sanitised potato masher. The idea is to break up the strawberries as much as possible, releasing the juice and colour.
  4. Pour the boiled sugar and water solution over the strawberries and mix everything together. Allow to cool and then add the acid blend, yeast nutrient, tannin and Campden tablet. Put the lid on the fermenter with an airlock and leave for 12 hours.
  5. After 12 hours add the pectic enzyme, mix and leave for 24 hours.
  6. After the 24 hours add the yeast to begin fermentation. Allow fermentation to go on for a week and stir once every one or two days, this helps extract as much flavour from the fruit as possible which will have the tendency to float.
  7. After a week lift out the straining bag with the pulp and allow to drain as much as possible, avoid squeezing the bag.
  8. Take a hydrometer reading, if the wine is below 1.010 specific gravity rack the wine into a sanitised demijohn. If not leave for a further few days and check the gravity again. Once racked attach a bung and airlock and leave.
  9. Wait for at least 2 months or more and the wine can then be racked off the sediment. You can wait for the strawberry wine to completely clear before racking to a new vessel. After this either let it age further for a few months or bottle. If you wish to back-sweeten the wine stabilise and follow this advice here.
  10. This strawberry wine is best kept for a few months and up to a year.