Archive for the ‘Winemaking’ Category

Red Berry Wine

I forgot to record this when I made it sometime in late winter/ early spring:

250g dried elderberries (equivinant to 1kg fresh berries)
2 x 500g bags of frozen mixed soft fruits (containing raspberries, blackberries, blackcurrents, redcurrents, and possibly strawberries and cherries..cant remember if these were in the mix…)
1 lt red grape juice
800g sugar
1 tsp acid blend
1 tsp pectic enzyme
red wine yeast

The night before:
dissolve the sugar and acid in a pint of water,
pre-soak the elderberries in a pint of cold water,
let the frozen mixed fruit defrost.
make a yeast starter

Next day
Whizz the elderberries, soft fruit and pectic enzyme in a blender, dump it in fermentation bucket
add the sugar syrup and grape juice, then make up to just over a gallon and pitch yeast, cover and leave it.

Break up the crust daily for 5 days, then strain off the wine through a mesh into a demijohn, top up to a gallon and ferment out.

Rack as soon as fermentation is pretty well over and a sediment has settled, when the wine is nearly clear.

Then leave it for a few months to drop its final bit of sediment, by which time the wine will be bright. Rack again, de-gass it, add sulphite (3 ml of metabisulphite solution)

Mature for a more more months, then bottle and mature a few more months.

As I write this, I’m at the point of the second racking, de-gassing/ sulphite addition. The wine has a good red wine taste- tannins levels are good, not too overpowering. Colour is perfect- a rich dark red. The aroma is strongly of soft fruit- maybe a mix between raspberries and blackcurrents, and the taste has quite a bit of that too.
If I was being critical, I’d say the body is slightly lacking for such a flavoursome , rich red. But thats not a big problem.
At a push, it could be drunk as a young wine now. Its a good wine, and will make a very good wine for winter drinking.

Alterations that I’m considering-
add a banana or two to give body
reduce the mixed fruit- maybe only use 500g instead of 1kg?


Elderflower wine

1 pint fresh elderflowers
1 litre white grape juice
1 litre apple juice
700g granulated sugar
1-1/2 tsp acid blend (or citric acid)
yeast & nutrient

In a fermentation bucket, dissolve sugar in a small amount of boiling water and let cool. Add fruit juices & acid blend, make up to 7 pints & pitch activated yeast.
After 3 days, separate flowers from stalks and add the flowers in a weighted down straining bag . Ferment for a further 4 days. Strain through a sieve into demijohn, top up to 1 gallon & ferment out as usual.
Once it’s clear, de-gass it and bottle, mature for a few months. Its best drunk young.

For 5 gallons:

5 pints elderflowers
A one gallon white wine kit
1 sachet of yeast
2 litres of apple juice
5 tsp acid blend
4 kg sugar
5 tsp nutrient

Day 1: make up the wine kit and start it fermenting in a demijohn
In a 5 gallon fermentation bucket, dissolve the sugar in 2 gallons of boiling water

Day 2: To the sugar syrup, add acid blend, apple juice, nutrient and the one gallon of white wine.
Day 4: Add elderflowers
Day 8: sieve and put into demijohns/ secondary fermenters

carbon filtering apple wine

I have some apple wine which is far too strongly flavoured- it has quite a scrumpy cider flavour.

The wine was made using the following approximate recipe:
2 gallons apple juice pressed from mostly cooking apples
1 gallon grape juice
Acid, nutrient, champagne yeast
Water to 5 gallons

The wine is good in all other respects, and I have approximately 24 bottles left….too many to just give up on.

I intend to strip the flavour our of some of the wine using activated carbon.
Once the wine is stripped, I’ll probably blend it back in with a flavoursome white wine, although it may be tasty enough just to leave on its own.

Another thing I’ve considered doing to the flavour & colour stripped wine is to back-sweeten it with red grape juice, with the intention of adding body and colour (to make a light blush wine).

I’ve read that 5 grams of carbon per gallon is an appropriate amount to use.

The carbon is from a pet shop for use in tropical fish tanks. However, since buying it I’ve found much cheaper carbon at my local homebrew shop.

I think I’ll only carbon treat half the wine, then blend it back in with the untreated wine and taste it. I’m not sure how long to carbon treat, but I figure if I totally strip the flavour (& colour) then blend it back in with un-treated wine, I should end up with something that’s got at least some flavour.

Next year, I should only use a1 gallon of apple juice and be more careful with the acid addition (I think I went wrong when calculating how much was needed)

Procedure to back sweeten wine

1) Only use wine that is clear, de-gassesed, mature and ready to bottle.
2) Decant a glass of wine, into which dissolve1 campden tablet (or 5ml sodium metabisulphite solution) and 0.5 tsp potassium sorbate (fermentation stopper). Ensure everything is totally dissolved prior to returning the wine to the demijohn.
3) Agitate the demijohn daily for 4 days, then leave in cool place for two weeks. If any residual yeast has settled out, rack again.
4) Measure the specific gravity
5) Add enough sugar to raise the gravity to the chosen sweetness for the wine:

Dry – 0.997 to 0.999
Medium dry – 1000 to 1.001
Medium sweet – 1.002 to 1.003
Sweet – 1.004 to 1.006
Desert wine (sweet) 1.007 to 1.010

A safe bet for table wine is 0.999 or 1000

Per gallon, 11 grams of sugar are needed to raise the gravity by 0.001.
To be safe, add 10 grams instead- better to undershoot than overshoot.

6) To add the sugar, decant around half a pint of wine into a jug, warm it in the microwave and dissolve the required volume of icing sugar into it. Return the sweetened wine to the demijohn, agitate and leave for half an hour prior to tasting
7) Leave wine under an airlock for 2 weeks to ensure it doesn’t start fermenting before you bottle it.

Apple wine dilemma.


Last autumn, I made 5 gallons of apple wine. Its turned out quite strongly flavoured of apples. Well, scrumpy really….it tastes like a mixture of cheap Spanish wine and Summerset scrumpy.   I’ve got quite a lot knocking about & I don’t know what to do with it.


For the record, the recipe was this:


2 gallons freshly pressed apple juice from our apple tree windfalls (mostly Bramley apple, with some desert apples of unknown type)

1 gallon supermarket white grape juice

Enough sugar to raise 5 gallons to 1090

2 tablespoons acid blend

Champagne yeast & nutrient

Sulphite solution

Pectic enzyme


The apple juice was pressed & put into a demijohn, 5ml of 10% sulphite added per gallon. Left overnight to settle, then siphoned off the gunk that’s settled out  & topped up with more apple juice. Back into the demijohns, pectic enzyme added, left for a day.

Next day, the apple juice was mixed with the grape juice, yeast nutrient and sugar, put into 5 gallon fermenter and air lock fitted.

When fished fermeting, racked, de-gassed, cleared & bottled.


My issue: it’s taste is far to strong of cooking apples. I’m thinking of filtering it with activated carbon. Apparently this gets rid of flavour (as well as colour…)

Once I’ve stripped much of the flavour out of the wine, I can then blend it with a flavoursome wine, perhaps the white wine mentioned below.


White Wine

Here’s a white wine I started on the same day as the red wine (about three weeks ago)


3 x tins cheap fruit cocktail (mostly peach and pear pieces, with some cherries and grapes)

1 litre supermarket white grape juice

800g white sugar

300 ml of elderflower cordial

1 tsp citric acid

2 tsp pectic enzyme

White wine yeast,

yeast nutrient


  1. Dissolve the sugar & citric acid in 2 pints water leave to cool
  2. Before the syrup is cool, take a desert spoon of syrup and dilute to half a pint of cold water, pitch yeast, cover with a paper towel.
  3. When the sugar syrup is cool, whiz all the fruit in a kitchen blender with the pectic enzyme & yeast nutrient.
  4. Put the fruit, grape juice, elderflower cordial and sugar syrup into a primary fermenter, top up to a gallon with cold water.
  5. Leave to ferment on the pulp for 4 days, knocking down the crust daily.
  6. Strain through a sieve or straining bag and poor into a demijohn, top up to a gallon, fit air lock and continue fermenting.


This should be ready to drink much sooner than the red. Its still fermenting at the moment, although it’s starting to be less cloudy, so I may rack it off the first sediment that’s collecting quite soon.  




Peach Blush

2 tins peaches (cheap, own-brand, in syrup)
800g sugar.
1 tsp tartaric acid & 0.5 tsp citric acid
1lt supermarket red grape juice
2 tsp pectolase
Champagne yeast
1 tsp Yeast nutrient

1 Dissolve sugar, yeast nutrient & acid in 1.5 lt water
2 Take a desert spoon of syrup and dissolve in 1/3 pint cold water (in a pint glass), add champagne yeast; cover glass with kitchen roll.
3 Leave for a few hours to let syrup cool and yeast activate.
4 In a blender, whizz the peaches with the pectolase.
5 Put grape juice, cooled sugar syrup, peach pulp and activated yeast into a fermentation bucket.
6 Top up to 1 gallon, cover & ferment out as per the other tinned fruit recipe thread.

Tasting notes:

I fermenting this back in December 2008,  it cleared quickly and I bottled it in early January ’09.  It drank very well almost immediately, if a little thin with very little aroma.  Drunk young, its very easy drinking…many bottles disapeared in the first few weeks.

I came back to it last weekend (early April) by which time it tasted quite harsh and very dry.  In two thirds of a bottle, about one and a half to one and three quarters of a teaspoon of sugar was needed to take the dryness out of the wine.

I think I’ve got another bottle, I’ll probably leave this for a few months and see if it mellows.