Cherry Wine Recipe – A Full Flavoured Red

0 Comments

Cherry Wine Recipe

Cherries make a wonderful fruit wine with a great depth of flavour. Out of all the fruit wines I make I think cherry wine has the best colour and it always comes out better than you expect, there are other health benefits too. If you can source some cherries for yourself the this cherry wine recipe is definitely one to try.

In temperate northern regions there is usually an abundance of cherries during the summer, either from a pick your own farm or lots of people grow the trees in their gardens. I live close to a pick your own farm which has rows of cherry trees which makes picking enough to make wine pretty easy. However, one great thing about this recipe is you can use frozen or canned cherries and the wine is just as good as using fresh cherries.

This means you should be able to make this cherry wine year round as most grocery stores will have cherries of some sort, either fresh, frozen or canned year round.

Fresh & Frozen Cherries

Cherries are a bold flavour and this flavour really does well even after freezing the cherries. The real difference between frozen or fresh cherries is the texture and for us wine makers the texture is not really an issue for us. In fact freezing cherries is actually beneficial as it breaks down the structure of the fruit which when thawed will release more of the sugars and juices we want in the wine.

Canned Cherry Wine

In fact, even canned cherries will work on this recipe. Usually canned cherries are in a light syrup which can also be added to the wine as long as there are no preservatives in it. Using canned cherries in this cherry wine recipe is exactly the same, you just need to work out how many cherries are in the can, usually there is a net weight that you can use to work this out.

If you are using the syrup from the tinned cherries you will want to decrease the amount of sugar you add. The can will usually detail how much sugar is in the syrup on the nutritional information or you can use a hydrometer to work it out.

Sweet or Sour Cherry Wine

This is personal preference I have most often used sour cherries for this recipe but if you use sweet cherries you will of course end up with a slightly sweeter wine. It is also worth trying a mix of both sweet and sour cherries so you can balance the sweetness yourself, you may have to experiment a little to get the perfect mix but it is definitely worth it.

Preparing The Cherries for Wine Making

It is important to destone the cherries.

To get the cherries ready to make wine is simple but a little labour intensive. You will want to wash them thoroughly and remove any bad cherries. As well as this you will need to remove the stems and destone the cherries. As we are going to be mashing the flesh we do not want the stones in the wine as the insides of cherry pits are toxic if you consume enough.

Most of the time frozen cherries are pre-prepared so this makes them great for making cherry wine.

Equipment You Will Need To Make Cherry Wine – Makes 1 gallon / 4.5 litres

Cherry Wine Ingredients

Cherry Wine Recipe Method

1. Start by heating half the water and all the sugar in a large pan. Heat gently to dissolve all the sugar and stir to prevent any scorching of the sugar on the bottom of the pan. Bring the sugar solution to a boil for a few minutes and then turn off the heat.

2. In a sanitized fermenting bucket, place the fine straining bag and add the prepared, washed cherries. Take the potato masher and pulp the cherries to extract the flavour and the juices. Secure the pulp in the straining bag and then pour over the boiling sugar solution. Mix thoroughly and then pour the remaining cool water to bring the temperature down.

3. Add the tannin, yeast nutrient, acid blend if using sweet cherries and then the Campden tablet. Mix thoroughly throughout the must then secure the lid for at least 12 hours.

4. After 12 hours add the pectic enzyme and mix thoroughly, secure the lid and leave for a further 24 hours.

5. After 24 hours add the yeast by sprinkling onto the surface of the must. Secure the lid and airlock and allow to ferment for around 2 weeks.

6. After two weeks it is time to remove the straining bag and what remains of the cherries. Lift the bag out and let it drain but do not squeeze. Cover the cherry wine again with the lid and let is settle for a couple of days before racking to a demijohn.

7. Once racked into a demijohn allow the wine to condition for at least three months racking to a new demijohn once or twice when sediment builds up. The wine ages well and can be left up to 6 months before bottling.

This cherry wine is great as it is but if you prefer a sweeter wine then back sweetening it is the way to go, if you use sweeter cherries you will often end up with a less tart wine anyway so always sample before sweetening.

Banana Wine Recipe – A Wine You Need To Try For Yourself

0 Comments

Banana wine might sound odd, believe me, I was unsure of how this wine recipe would taste too but it is definitely worth trying. Bananas are full of sugars and are one of the sweetest fruits available to most people. This sweetness is perfect for wine making and with just a few additions to balance the acidity you will have a very memorable, full-bodied banana wine that will make you wonder why you even questioned this in the first place.

It turns out that bananas are great for winemaking. You will often see recipes for other fruit wine and especially floral wines that call for the addition of bananas because the provide sweetness, body and a subtle flavour boost to wines that would otherwise be a little insipid.

Banana Wine Recipe

The great thing about making a banana wine is that you can do it at any time of year. You can buy bunches of bananas from almost any supermarket across the globe at almost any point of the year. You aren’t constrained to a seasonal harvest like you would be with other fruit. The other thing is that in many places bananas are one of the cheapest fruits by weight so it makes this banana wine recipe very inexpensive to make.

Banana Wine Recipe With Endless Possibilities

Banana wine is also a great wine to blend with other fruit wines. If you find a fruit wine you have made is too tart to your liking, for example, blending it with a finished banana wine made with this wine recipe is a great way to bring it back into balance. Banana pairs so well with other fruits and spices the possibilities are endless with this recipe.

A good thing to experiment with is starting this banana wine recipe as laid out below and then adding additional fruits to the wine to create your own blends, banana and raspberry work well together and I have made this wine a few time. Spices work well too if you like a sweeter tasting wine banana and vanilla wine when back-sweetened makes a great dessert wine.

As you can tell there is plenty of scope to come up with your own signature wine using a simple banana wine recipe. You can also be sure that not many people with have tried a banana wine before as there is virtually no industrial production of banana wine only small home scale production. This is why you are going to have to make this banana wine recipe for yourself.

Picking and Prepping Your Bananas For Making Banana Wine

This recipe requires you to use the sliced bananas, peel and all so when you are picking bananas you will probably want to go with something that is organic. This way you will know there are no pesticides or other sprays on the banana peel that will get into your wine.

The next thing you will want to do is to keep the bananas around for a while to ripen. The riper the better without going completely black. We want the skins to have large brown spots and the bananas to be as sweet as possible so buy the bananas ahead of time and allow them to get over-ripe.

Lastly, it should be noted that this is a recipe for banana wine and will not work for plantains.

Equipment What You Will Need For This Banana Wine Recipe – Makes 1 gallon / 4.5 litres

Banana Wine Ingredients

Banana Wine Recipe Method

1. Bring half of the water to a boil in the large stockpot. Whilst the water is heating up slice the bananas including the skins and secure in the straining bag. Submerge the straining bag in the boiling water and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

2. After simmering for 30 minutes remove the pot from the heat. Lift out the straining bag with the bananas and set to one side for a moment. Pour the liquid from the pot into a sanitised fermenting bucket and then add the straining bag with the bananas as well.

3. Take the remaining half of the water and add to the stockpot with the sugar. Heat to a boil and stir to dissolve the sugar and prevent from burning. Simmer for a few minutes, remove from the heat and then add this to the fermenter. Along with this add the acid blend, tannin and yeast nutrient. Allow to cool to room temperature.

4. Once cooled add the crushed Campden tablet and mix thoroughly, allow to stand for at least 12 hours.

5. After at least 12 hours add the pectic enzyme and mix thoroughly. 24 hours after adding the pectic enzyme add the yeast by sprinkling onto the surface of the must, fit a lid and airlock. Fermentation will begin a few days after this.

6. Allow fermentation to progress for a week stirring daily, after this remove the straining bag and the remains of the banana. Leave for a further 3 days and the fermentation should have died down completely. At this point you can syphon the banana wine into a demijohn or carboy, fit with a bung and airlock.

7. Allow the wine to condition in the demijohn for 3 – 4 months racking to a sanitised carboy once or twice after sediment builds up.

8. After conditioning, for at least 4 months or up to 6 you are ready to bottle the wine. You may want to sample the banana wine and back sweeten it if you prefer a less dry or sweeter wine. Once bottled I like to set aside a few bottles for a number of months and you will notice the banana wine will keep improving with age up to a couple of years.

Apple Wine Recipe – Simple & Rich Apple Wine

2 Comments

Apple Wine Recipe

Apples are one of the fruits that can be easily gathered around the beginning of autumn. There are countless trees not only in people’s gardens but also escapees that grow wild. The problem with a lot of these apple varieties that have grown free is the way the apples taste. Many wild apples can be bitter and sour. Whilst this means they aren’t all that good for eating the plus side is they are perfect for making wine.

This apple wine recipe is very easy to do and if you can find a couple of trees near you then the fruit will be completely free. If at all possible you will be best served if you can find a mix of apples. Blending different varieties together will even out your wine and create a more complex finish.

This wine recipe really is better with foraged apples which are usually more bitter, astringent and tart. If you have to use sweet eating apples then blend them in with other varieties such as crab apples or even cooking apples if possible.

No Need To Juice The Apples

This apple wine recipe does not involve pressing the apples as you would make juice for cider making. To make a wine from apples is far simpler as we will be fermenting the pulp. What this means is that we are relying on pectic enzymes and yeast to do the work for us. Just a wine from grapes is made by simply crushing the grapes and then fermenting on the grape skins, making apple wine follows this same process. We just need to chop or crush the apples and then ferment with the apple in contact with the yeast. This action breaks down the structure of the fruit and releases the sugars and juice that we want.

Pectolase or pectic enzyme is used prior to fermentation which is an enzyme that naturally breaks down the structure of any fruit. This aid in the extraction of juice without the need to juice the apples.

Preparing The Apples For Making Wine

Before we can make the wine you will want to sort through the apples. You will want roughly 3kg of apples to make a gallon (4.5 litres) of wine.

If you have foraged apples from trees in the wild or from your garden give them a good clean first of all. Remove and bad apples or cut out parts of any damaged apples. You can leave the peel on the apple but you are best removing the seeds if possible. Remember that you aren’t going to eating the apples so the cores still contain juice and flavour still.

If you are foraging apples then you can prepare them and freeze them in batches. By freezing the apples before making the wine the cell structures will breakdown. When defrosting the apples more of the juices will naturally be released. This means if you cannot gather all the apples in one go you can save them and make the apple wine later in the year.

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

Apple Wine Ingredients

Apple Wine Method

1. Begin by heating half the water with the sugar in a large pan. Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes.

2.Take the prepared apples and place in the fine straining bag. Put this in the bottom of the fermenter and pour over the boiling water. Add the remaining half of the water and this will bring the temperature down so it is lukewarm. Add the tannin, yeast nutrient and acid and stir thoroughly.

3. A few hours later when the must has cooled even further add the crushed campden tablet and stir through the must. Cover and leave the wine for at least 12 hours.

4. 12 hours after adding the campden tablet add the pectic enzyme, stir thoroughly and leave for 24 hours.

5. After 24 hours add the yeast by sprinkling onto the surface of the must, no need to stir. The yeast will now ferment the wine. Stir the must daily with a sanitised spoon to ensure all the apples are broken down.

6. After a week lift out the straining bag with what remains of the apples. Let the bag drip dry but avoid the temptation to squeeze the straining bag. Leave the wine to settle for at least 24 hours.

7. After the wine has settled for around 24 hours you can syphon the wine into a demijohn. The wine now needs time to condition and to clear. Rack again after a couple of months to aid clearing. Condition for at least 4 months before bottling.

8. Should you wish, you can back sweeten the wine following this method. If you prefer a sweeter, richer wine then this is a good option.

Elderberry Wine Recipe – A King Among Fruit Wines

1 Comment

Elderberry Wine Recipe

Elderberries are one of the UK best fruits for making wine. Often referred to as the “Englishman’s grape” elderberry wine is a rich, full bodied wine and there is usually a plentiful supply of the fruit throughout much of the UK you can pick for free out of the hedgerows.

I know many enjoy making wine from elderflowers and even I have a batch made from this year. Elderberry wine, however, is in my opinion far superior. Despite the obvious difference in colour with elderberry making a deep red wine, elderberries do not require much work to go from grape to glass.

Elderberries have many of the qualities that grapes have that make them so well suited to wine making. In fact, elderberries have often been added to grape wines by commercial wineries to boost tannin and colour. The only difference between wine grapes and elderberries is that elderberries require a sugar addition at the sugar content of elderberries is around 7%.

Elderberries also possess some acids to balance the finished wine. As in many country wines, an addition of mixed acid is required or the finished wine or it will be flat or flabby tasting. Elderberries are high in citric, malic and fumaric acids.

Foraging For Elderberries

As far as I’m aware there isn’t a readily available supply of fresh elderberries available to buy. Although you can buy dried elderberries which are used for making wine, you will want fresh elderberries to make this wine.

The great thing about elderberries is they are abundant throughout the UK and they are very easy to harvest and prepare for wine making.

Elderberries are small dark purple to black coloured berries, they hang in umbrella shaped clusters and are ripe around August to October.

It goes without saying that if you are unsure of the identification you should not pick the berries. Take a good identification guide with you when you are looking for the elderberries to ensure you are picking the correct thing.

The easiest way to pick elderberries is to take a pair of scissors and snip each cluster of berries at the base of the stem. You should be able to quickly harvest a fair amount and when you get them back home separate the berries from the stems with a fork.

 

Preparing Your Elderberries For Making Wine

Once you get the elderberries back home after picking you will want to remove the berries from the stems, the stems are slightly toxic so this is an important step.

The easiest way to remove the elderberries from the stems is by combing them with a fork. Gently comb the berries away from the stems a few at a time into a bowl and repeat for the whole harvest.

Once you have the berries de-stemmed it is time to clean them. Fill a large enough bowl to accommodate the berries with cold water and add the elderberries. The ripe and mature berries will sink to the bottom. Any green, damaged berries will float as will any leaves and bugs. Remove the bad berries and debris with a sieve and drain the well-cleaned elderberries.

After cleaning, if you are not planning to make wine straight away you can freeze the elderberries in a freezer bag which gives you the flexibility to make the wine at any point you choose.

 

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

 

Elderberry Wine Ingredients

Elderberry Wine Method

1. Heat the water in a pan on the stove, add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Bring to the boil for a minute and then turn off the heat.

2. Take the prepared elderberries and place them in the straining bag inside the sanitised fermenting bucket. Use a potato masher to thoroughly crush the berries. It should be noted they will stain so try not to get any on your clothes. Your straining bag will never be the same colour after making elderberry wine!

3. Pour the boiling water over the crushed elderberries and give them a good stir. Allow to cool for a few hours and then add the yeast nutrient, acid blend and the crushed Campden tablet. Mix thoroughly, cover and fit the airlock and wait for at least 12 hours.

4. After 12 hours add the pectic enzyme mix thoroughly and wait for a further 24 hours.

5. After 24 hours add the yeast onto the surface of the must, there is no need to stir. Cover and fit the airlock and patiently wait for fermentation to begin.

6. Stir the wine daily for the first week of fermentation, after 2 weeks lift out the straining bag and allow the wine to drain from the berries. Avoid squeezing the bag.

7. Leave the wine to settle for a day and then syphon the wine into a demijohn. You may check the gravity now if you have a hydrometer. The wine should be close to, if not fully fermented out.

8. Allow the wine to condition in the demijohn for at least 3 – 4 months, racking when any sediment builds up. After conditioning for at least 3 – 4 months you should sample the wine. You may want to back sweeten the wine if you prefer a sweeter taste if so follow this guide before bottling. If not rack straight to bottles and try to keep hold of them for as long as possible.

Elderberry wine ages very well and will continually evolve so try and hold onto a few bottles for a year or more. You will be pleasantly surprised at how good an elderberry wine can get.

Damson Wine Recipe – Rich & Perfect For Aging

0 Comments

 

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.

Gooseberry Wine Recipe – Fantastic White Wine

0 Comments

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.

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

0 Comments

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

0 Comments

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?

0 Comments

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

0 Comments

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.