One of the best reasons to make fruit wines is that you can make them from fresh or frozen fruit, so you’re not limited to making wine during the grape harvest in September or October. Nearly any fruit and many vegetables make great wines. One of my favorite are tomato and cucumber wine! The other great thing about country wines is that they are ready to drink in as few as three months.
Preparing the fruit (We recommend 3 – 5 pounds of fruit per gallon.The closer you are to 5 pounds of fruit the better flavor and body your fruit will have!)
For Hard Fruits
Remove stems, wash with warm water and slice into the bucket leaving the core and any rotten fruit behind. The skin is important for flavor so don't peel the fruit. Freeze for at least two days. De-thaw to make your wine.
For small currents and berries
Remove the stems and wash the fruit in warm water. Add to the clean bucket and mash (or placed in a sanitized straining bag) with an implement like a potato masher or clean hands. There is no need to remove the stones or the pips.
For soft fruit
Remove the stems and wash in warm water. Remove the stones if possible. Add to the bucket and mash as above.
Preparing your equipment
- Cleaning: Clean all equipment and rinse rinse carefully. Do not use bleach. Oxyclean works very good.
- Sanitize: equipment with one of the following: Potassium Metabisulfite (2 ounces to 1 gallon), Star San or Iodine based product. Do not use bleach. Allow to air dry on clean surface.
Instructions to make 1 gallon
Day 1 (Making the Must)
- Clean and sanitize your fermentation container. We recommend a 2 Gallon Fermenter Bucket with lid.
- Add 1/2 gallon of boiling water and stir well.
- Add 1/2 gallon of grape juice. Old Orchard brand is perfect. Just check the label on the bottle to make sure the juice does not contain SORBATE. For light colored fruits we recommend white grape juice. For dark fruits use red or white juice. If you cannot find grape juice you can substitute apple juice. Again, make sure there is no sorbate in the juice. The added juice will give your wine BODY. Country wines are sometimes thin. We call this mixture Must.
- Add 1 ½ cups of sugar.Prior to adding fruit, this mixture is 8% ABV.After adding fruit the final ABV of your wine will be 8% - 10% depending on the fruit used.
- Add the prepared fruit in the quantities as per table below.
Day 2 – To the Must
- Add 1/16 teaspoon of Potassium Metabisulfite
- Add 1/2 teaspoon of Pectic Enzyme.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon of Acid Blend
- Add 1/4 teaspoon of Wine Tannin or 1 cup of strong black tea.
- Put the lid on the bucket, insert the airlock and place in a cool corner for 24 hours.
- Day 3 – Begin Fermentation (mixture should be 65 – 70 degrees)
- Add 1/2 teaspoon of Yeast Energizer to the mixture. Stir or whip vigorously with a sanitized spoon.
- Sprinkle ½ packet of yeast on top of the mixture.No need to stir.
- Replace the lid and airlock and re-locate the bucket to a cooler part of your basement (ideally between 65 - 70 degrees)
After 3 days remove the straining bag of fruit. If you did not use a bag, strain the fruit through a sieve or straining bag and gently squeeze the liquid out from the bag back into the bucket. Don’t overdo it; you will introduce a bitter taste into the wine which comes from the seeds and other fruit compounds.If you don’t have straining bags use a sieve to remove the fruit gently pressing and squeezing it to remove the juices.
After 10 days sanitize your hydrometer and check to see if fermentation is complete.For a complete fermentation your hydrometer will read 1.00 or below. When complete, sanitize your siphon equipment and carboy (jug) and transfer the wine to the carboy. Leave the dead yeast (called lees) in the primary container.Add 1/16 teaspoon of Potassium Metabisulfite.Give the wine a good 5 minute stir.This will remove the carbon dioxide gases which build up during fermentation.Releasing the carbonation gases helps to clear your wine quicker.Store your new wine in a cool dark place.
After 30 days if your wine is clear (wine clears from the top down) you may stabilize and add additional sugar or other sweetner to taste.If your wine is not clear, repeat Step 6
Stabilizing and Sweetning Your Wine
After your wine has cleared you can stabilize your wine and add back sugar or other sweetners prior to bottling.What ever mixture you use, add a bit at a time tasting along the way so as not to over-sweeten.
- Simple Syrups – Make a simple syrup of 1 cup water to 2 cup sugar.This mixture is boiled until all sugar is dissolved and then chilled.
- Fruit Pack – Using fruit juice, boil the juice down until it has reduced in volume to 1/3.Chill.
Make sure you have transferred your wine to a clean carboy so there are no dead yeast on the bottom.(Winemakers call dead yeast “lees”.)
- Remove ¼ cup of wine.To this wine,
- Add 1/16 teaspoon of Potassium Metabisulfite.
- Add ½ teaspoon of Potassium Sorbate.
- Replace the airlock and set in a cool dark place for two days.
Adjust wine for sweetness and acidity.
- Sweetness - After two days, add your sweetner of choice.Stir well for several minutes.
- Adjusting Acidity - Taste the wine now you have finished sweetening it and decide if it is sharp enough for you. If it’s not add about 1/2 teaspoon of acid blend (malic for apples.)Dissolve well and leave to stand for 10 minutes before re-tasting. Keep repeating until you are happy with the taste. If in doubt leave it 24 hours and then retest the wine when your taste buds have had a rest.
Replace the airlock and set in a cool dark place for at least a week or two. Watch to see if fermentation starts new.
After one or two weeks have passes the wine can be bottled. Depending on how long you want to keep your wine depends on whether you use cork or screw tops. If you are going to keep your wine for more than 6 months we recommend corks.