Tag Archives: Wine

Red Grape Wine

I was given the opportunity to harvest some grapes from the community orchard. I harvested about 7kg grapes, which when crushed through my fairly rudimentary methods, yielded about 1 gallon of juice with a gravity of 1.054. In order to make the wine as red, it needs contact with the skins for the next 10 days, so it is sitting there. After this point it will be strained into a demijohn, with sugar added to bring the gravity up to around 1.085, with the intent of yielding a dry red of about 14% ABV. I elected to use the wild yeast on the grapes, but if nothing is happening after 3 days, I will pitch a commercial yeast



I picked a lot of elderberries, so much that I stained my hands purple. These are going to be wine, and some might be port (fortified with brandy).

The wine (1 gallon):

1.8kg elderberries, stripped from stems (use a fork if you don’t want purple hands)
1.2kg sugar
1 tsp citric acid
Burgundy Yeast and nutrient
water to 4.5 litres

Strip berries, and pour 3 litres of boiling water over them. Allow to cool to 21C and add yeast, nutrient and acid. Leave for 3 days, then strain onto sugar in demijohn. This is liable to froth, so you might not want to put all the juice in the demijohn, but reserve some in another bottle from which to top up.

To make the port:

Using the wine recipe, proceed as above. Closely monitor fermentation and gravity. When the gravity reaches approx 1.030 stop fermentation with an addition of brandy (this pushes the alcohol beyond the tolerance of the yeast). Aim for around 20%. The formula to be followed is:

X = V(C-A) / B-C






Plum wines

This year I’ve made plum wine again, and as last year done so in too different levels of fruitiness (one dark and one light). Both recipes can be found by following the links below:


Dark variation

Bullace Wine

Bullaces, it was told to me, are ‘sloes with attitude’. Think small plums that are the some colour as sloes, and very tannic, and you’re there. They aren’t nice to eat, but apparently make a reasonable wine.

1.8kg Bullace
1.2kg sugar
225g chopped raisins
pectic enzyme
yeast and nutrient
water to 4.5 litres

Crush bullaces and pour 3 litres of boiling water over them. When cooled add the pectic enzyme, cover closely and allow to stand for a week on the fruit. Strain the juice into a pan and boil. Pour boiled juice over chopped raisins and sugar and mix. When cooled, add yeast and nutrient. Fement for ten days in bucket, then strain into demijohn.

Dandelion Wine time again!

With St George’s Day just gone, I’ve just made Dandelion Wine again. Here’s the recipe from last year, and if I can keep it long enough I may even be able to compare vintages.

Bottling a sweet plum

One of my demijohns of the more fruity of the plum wines I made this year has reached the end of fermentation.  Checking the specific gravity of the wine, I have a sweetish, approximately 14% wine.  I’m going to bottle it as it is, and let it age into next year, by which time it should be a wonderful, flavourful desert wine.

OG: 1.125
FG: 1.030

‘Your father smells of elderberries!’ – Elderberry Wine

The slur hurled at Arthur and his knights in Monty Python and the Holy Grail is well known.  Less well known is Elderberry Wine, sometimes known as ‘Englishman’s Port’.  Elderberries were in fact used in Port production to give more body and tannins, until the practice was made illegal.  Anyway, not to be discouraged I decided to make some wine from the berries, meaning that I have now made wine from both flowers and berries of the same tree.

The recipe:

1.5 kg elderberries
1.25 kg sugar
1 tsp citric acid
water to 4.5 litres
Burgundy yeast and nutrient

Strip elderberries from stems using a fork.  Pour 3.5 litres of boiling water over the berries and allow to cool until about 21 degrees C.  Add citric acid, yeast and nutrient, and leave covered for three days.  Strain onto sugar, transfer to demijohn and fit airlock.  It will probably froth a lot, so its advisable not to fill the demijohn at this stage and keep a little in another bottle to top up with when the initial surge of fermentation has subsided.  Ferment to completion, racking when cleared.  The wine will benefit from aging, which will take the harshness of the tannins out.

I also made Elder and Blackberry Wine with 750g elderberries and 750g blackberries, following the same method.

Elderberry OG: 1.104
Elderberry and Blackberry OG: 1.100

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