Fermenting is a natural process; making wine is an attempt to control that process. Using a few simple techniques, anyone can make a delicious country wine at home using very few ingredients and supplies.
Wine making is often intimidating for beginners, so let's keep it simple. It's fermented juice, made using 4 basic ingredients: fruit, water, sugar, and yeast.
Over time, I've discovered that despite owning all the fancy equipment, I prefer making small batches and most often will use 1-gallon milk jugs as carboys, a chopstick (for agitating), cheesecloth, a siphon, a hydrometer, and an airlock. That's it.
Yeast consumes sugar, and, as a by-product, creates alcohol and CO2. An airlock allows CO2 to escape while keeping air out. Hydrometers measure sugar content, thereby indicating potential alcohol content.
Sanitize your equipment using StarSan or a similar product before each use.
This recipe yields 14 - 14.5% ABV (alcohol by volume). The flavor is clean and smooth, with a mild residual sweetness.
- 1 cup raspberries (frozen)
- 3 cups apples (frozen, mixed varieties, chopped)
- 1/2 stick cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
- 1 chili pepper (dried)
- 20 peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (sea)
- 1/2 lemon (zest and juice)
- 1/2 gallon water
- 2 1/2 cups brown sugar
- 7 1/2 cups sugar (white)
- 1 package yeast (Lalvin EC-1118 Champagne Yeast)
- Add the raspberries, apples, cinnamon, fennel seed, chili, peppercorns, sea salt, lemon zest and juice, and water to a large pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes to break down fruits, extract flavors, and destroy wild yeasts. Fruit can be crushed using a potato masher to break it down further.
- Remove from heat and add the brown and white sugar. Stir to dissolve. Add 1½ gallons cool water. Take a hydrometer reading. Tt should read approximately 1.10~ SG (specific gravity).
- Cover with a cloth held with elastic or string (or loose lid), and leave at room temperature (72ºF) overnight.
- Line a funnel with several layers of cheesecloth, and strain the mixture to remove fruit.
- Sprinkle the package of champagne yeast over top of the liquid, stir, and cover with a cloth.
- Agitate daily, and take hydrometer readings until it reads 1.03 SG.
- Use a siphon to transfer (rack) to carboy(s), filling to the "neck" to reduce air exposure.
- This stage requires an airlock to create an anaerobic environment (no air). Add vodka or water to airlock before use.
- When the hydrometer reading is 1.0 or lower for a week, fermentation has finished.
- Rack your wine, top with airlock, and age 2 or more months.
- After fermentation has finished, you can enjoy your wine young, or let it age. To age and clear your wine, rack every 2 months, or when sediment is 1/2" thick.
Adriana Meagher lives on a 130-acre farm in the mountains of Columbia Valley, BC. Her passion for a traditional lifestyle led her to create Yogurt Hydro, where she shares her latest adventures whether outdoors or in the kitchen.