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
- Large Stock Pot
- Small Fermenting Bucket
- Fine Straining Bag
- Potato Masher
- Airlock & Bung
Cherry Wine Ingredients
- 4.2 litres Water
- 1.6 kg / 3.5 lb Cherries destoned (sweet or sour or mix)
- 1.1 kg / 2.5 lb Sugar
- 1/8 tsp Tannin
- 2 tsp Acid Blend (for sweet cherry wine only)
- 1/2 tsp Pectic Enzyme
- 1 tsp Yeast Nutrient
- 1 Campden Tablet
- 1 Sachet Yeast (Lallemand EC-1118 is a good choice but experiment with others)
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.