If you have a big crop of fruit from your garden or trees or have found lovely fruit at a farmer's market, one great way to preserve it and make the most of it is to make a delicious homemade fruit wine. It takes some time and patience to make fruit wine, and you'll need some specialized equipment, but once you have everything you need, you can make delicious homemade fruit wines any time you have an excess of fruit.
Equipment List for Homemade Fruit Wines
The equipment list for making wine is short, but these are the necessary items you'll need. You can find items for making homemade wines of all types at home brewing shops or online such as Midwest Supplies or Adventures in Home Brewing. If you're a fan of quick shipping and you have Amazon Prime, you can even order them at Amazon.com. In fact, there's a home brewing small-batch fruit wine kit you can purchase for about $50 that has everything you need to make 13 one-gallon batches of wine using your own fruit. If you're not buying a kit, you'll need the following.
- Glass jug with a screw cap - For sanitizing solution
- Pitcher with graduated measurements for water
- Two five-gallon food-grade buckets with lid or glass jugs (primary fermentors) - Plastic buckets need to have holes drilled in the lid to fit the bungs snugly.
- Long handled plastic spoon
- Siphon hose with a plastic tip for racking
- Two five-gallon plastic or glass carboys (secondary fermentors)
- Hydrometer set - Used to measure sugar content in the must
- Floating thermometer - to ensure the right temperature for fermentation.
- Two fermentation locks with bungs (rubber stoppers) to fit the two carboys
- Two fermentation locks with bungs for the primary fermentors
- Straining bags, filter pads
- Fruit crusher or potato masher
- Wine bottles with corks or caps and a wine capper
If you are just learning how to make wine, save the use of barrels for secondary fermentation until you have learned the basics of wine making. The use of barrels requires a lot more care in order to make successful batches of wine.
Many home wine makers prefer to use new plastic carboys. Used carboys are fine only if their previous use was for wine making only. Plastic carboys previously used for other food items, such as pickles, can sometimes cause the wine to have an off-flavor. Glass carboys, if cleaned properly, should not give any off-flavors to your wine.
Preparing to Make Fruit Wine
Before you begin, it's essential to make sure you have everything in place so the process of making your fruit wine goes smoothly.
Clean Your Equipment
It is important to clean all of your equipment, even if it is new and has never been used, with a sanitizing solution. The solution will kill any bacteria or yeast that will ruin your wine.
Choose Your Ingredients
You can use fresh berries, hard or soft fruits, tropical fruits, and even dried fruits.
Select Fresh Produce, Juice, or Concentrates
Purchase juice or concentrate from winemaking stores locally or online. Don't use the prepared juices or concentrates from the grocery store because they have many additives not necessary for winemaking. Use freshly squeezed juice from fresh fruit the same day you squeeze them.
Gather Basic Additives
How to Make Fruit Wine, Simplified
If this is your first time making wine, it's best if you follow a simple recipe. The following recipe makes a simple, sweet wine from ingredients easily found at the grocery or winemaking store.
- 24 lbs of crushed blackberries (or another crushed berry, such as strawberries, or pitted soft fruits such as peaches)
- 13 lbs of superfine sugar
- 6 quarts of fresh hot water
- 2 teaspoons of yeast nutrient
- 2 teaspoons of pectic enzyme
- 8 crushed campden tablets
- 8 quarts of fresh cold water
- 1 package of Narbonne wine yeast
- Crush the blackberries or other fruit and put in the primary fermentor; add the hot water and sugar.
- Stir with a plastic spoon until the sugar is dissolved.
- Add the next three primary ingredients and continue to mix thoroughly. Add the floating thermometer.
- Check the temperature of the must. It should be at least 75 degrees Fahrenheit or 23 degrees Celsius.
- Add the yeast to one cup of warm water and let sit for 10 minutes. Add to the primary fermentor.
- Cap or cover the fermentor with the bungs and airlocks and place it in a warm area with a constant temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit or 23 degrees Celsius to ensure proper fermentation. Check again in 24 hours. The mixture should be bubbly on top.
- Continue to stir twice each day to keep the floating fruit moist.
- Check the specific gravity (SG) with your hydrometer every two days. When it reaches 1.020, scoop up the floating fruit and gently squeeze out any liquid. Discard the pulp.
- Rack the liquid into a clean carboy and top off with one cup of cold water.
- Attach the fermentation lock to the carboy.
- Move the carboy to a cooler location, preferably around 65 degrees Fahrenheit or 18 degrees Celsius.
- After 10 days, check to see if the SG is 1.000. Continue checking everyday until it does reach this point. When it does, rack it into a new clean carboy.
- Add the finings and top off with cold tap water, allowing it to rest again for 10 days.
- Rack into the primary fermentor then filter into a clean carboy.
- Add the sulphite crystals to a small amount of water and dissolve completely. Pour into the carboy and top it off with cold water.
- Allow the wine to age two months.
- Add the wine conditioner and mix gently.
- Bottle the wine.
- Age the wine in a cool place for four months.
- Uncork and enjoy!
Occasionally, your must will not ferment properly. When this happens, check the temperature and move the primary fermentor to a warmer place. If after 24 hours, it still isn't fermenting, remove one cup of must and place in a clean glass bowl. Add one cup of warm water and sprinkle five grams of wine yeast on the mixture. Allow this to stand for about an hour until a little bubbly on top. Mix this back into the primary fermentor, stir, and cover.
The Fruit Wine Hobby
Making fruit wine is a fun hobby and is only limited by your own creativity. Your friends and family will have fun tasting your creations, and you'll enjoy experimenting with new recipes. Perhaps you'll even teach your friends how to make fruit wine too!