It’s strawberry season ’round here.
That means there’s ample u-pick places to go and get your fill of berries.
This year we’ve had enough rain that the berries are huge, juicy and amazingly tasty.
Or, maybe we’re all just happy af to have berries after last year’s drought.
We made our way out to get some berries.
Which for me means eating a basket on the drive home and then freezing the rest for wine.
Well, and a batch of jam for Hubby, because he likes jam.
I use a simple wine recipe I found way back when I first wanted to make fruit (or country) wines.
Danger Dave’s Dragon Blood wine.
It’s an easy peasy, should be ready to drink in a month, wine.
Now, as always, I adjust the recipe…
The original calls for a mere 6lbs of fruit.
Yeah so, I typically use 20lbs of fruit, sometimes more.
Like when I do a green tomato wine, minimum is 25lbs of green tomatoes.
I also often leave out the lemon juice, depending what fruits I’m using.
Actually, truth be told, lemon juice is kept on hand for canning tomatoes, so unless I’m making *lemon* wine (google “skeeter pee”…you won’t regret it 😉 ), I pretty much leave it out.
Same with the tannin…if I think of it, I add it, but most times, I don’t even think of it…
‘Kay so, my strawberry wine looks like this:
20lbs fruit…washed, sliced and frozen
3tsp pectic enzyme (helps the wine clear…but I often forget this too)
3 tsp. yeast nutrient (stir)
1 tsp. yeast energizer (stir)
With the nutrient and energizer…I only use nutrient, because I rarely have energizer on hand…if you have both, great, but not necessary…and I add this the next day with the packaged yeast.
Yeast package…I typically use EC-1118 yeast, but a while back I got a fantastic deal on a bunch of Super B wine yeast…all I could grab in a handful for $5…yay for having freakishly large hands for a woman!! 😂😂😂
This is another thing you’re going to want to get from a brew shop…yeah, you can use bread yeast, but honestly, it’s worth the money to buy the right yeast for the job.
Bread yeast gives a hot, yeasty finish…it’s not pleasant, IMO.
(Can you tell this is a very loosey goosey kinda recipe? there’s *lots* of wiggle room!)
Then sugar…normally I find around 5-6 kgs does the job…just plain old white sugar…I’m aiming for a starting gravity (s.g) of 1.070-1.080…
And good, clean water.
I tend to make 8 gallon batches…this recipe is about right for that…
So, of course this goes on the assumption you have some basic wine making equipment.
~ A big pail…my main primary (big pail) holds 10 gallons (it’s kinda small, I gotta find a bigger one *and* a place to put it!)
~ A mesh fruit bag…this is a cheap af luxury. You can do without it, but it makes your wine making life a bazillion times easier. Go ahead and spend the $5. It’s worth it!
~ A hydrometer. You can get one cheap (under $10) at any brew shop. This simple tool tells you your s.g and your f.g.(final gravity).
With those numbers you know a. when your wine is done fermenting, and 2. how much alcohol is in your wine…if you’re going to go on and distill any of your wine (where it’s legal or you just don’t care 😉 ), you’ll want to get a proof and trailles hydrometer as well…you use that with your distilled spirits to find your proof (proof is double your alcohol percentage…ie. 110 proof vodka is 55% alcohol). You need to know this in order to dilute or for using your distillate for tinctures….but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post. 😉
~ A racking cane…this helps you siphon your fermented juices off the gross crap (called lees) at the bottom of your pail.
~ A carboy with a bung and airlock.
Glass is best for a carboy. You can bulk age (typically) 6 gallons at one time.
You use the bung and airlock to keep oxygen from ruining the shit out of your wine…and wild random yeasties from turning your 6 gallons of wine into 6 gallons of vinegar.
Trust me. That fucking sucks when it happens.
~ Sanitizer. This is a must if you want your wines to turn out.
Not bleach. Just spend the money on proper sanitizer from the brew shop, ‘kay?
I use the pink stuff, but tons of folks swear by StarSan…and one day I may switch to it because you don’t have to rinse afterwards, so *that* would be bonus…but I buy the pink stuff by the 2kg bag and it lasts a long time.
And lastly, on the list of should have (though I view them as must haves) is:
~ Bottles and a corker.
But seriously, the first kit I made, I didn’t have enough bottles when it came to bottling time. I used mason jars for what didn’t fit in the ones I had…drank that first though, because mason jars, unless processed like in canning, don’t keep air out.
Now, the corker *can* be optional, if you’re using screw tops…and TBH, when I *know* a wine isn’t gonna last me longer than a few months, I use 1 liter plastic bottles with screw tops.
Longer aging wines (like dandelion or my beet root…yes, you read that right…I make a beet root wine…) get corked glass bottles.
So there…if you have a basic kit of supplies (like *so basic* every brew shop has a “buy it as a kit” version where everything except maybe the brew bag and the proof and trailles hydrometer are in it), you can do just about any wine/shine (you’ll need a still for shine, but again, that’s a whole ‘nother post 😉 )…with stuff from the grocery store/local farms/your own garden or backyard.
Though, you can buy wine kits too…and those can be awesome too.
I too will buy a kit now and then…but I also love the fuck out of harvesting fruits (and some veggies) to create a wine.
I follow the process for the Dragon’s Blood fairly closely.
At least for the first bit while it’s in the primary pail (I cover my primary with saran wrap and a towel, I don’t worry about a lid), but once it’s in the carboy, I’m a negligent winemaker.
I’ve got a couple “bulk aging” right now (read:too lazy to bottle) that have been there for a year or more…in fact the chokecherry is coming up on 2 years in the carboy. I just keep topping up the water in the airlock to keep air from getting in and ruining it.
When I get around to bottling, it oughta be effing amazing.
So, that’s how I do it.
Any questions, feel free to ask.
I will do my best to answer.