Very lightly sweetened fruit wines can be just the perfect thing on a warm summer day by the pool or picnic table. Often, they are started in midsummer, just as the garden begins to deliver your crop of blueberries, raspberries, currants, gooseberries, elderberries, blackberries or even apples or pears.
This recipe for a combination black raspberry / red currant wine is one of our favorites. It has a nice, bright, summer flavor, with sparky acids from the currants brightening up the wine’s sweetness. It has a gorgeous, almost fluorescent red color from the currants. You can substitute almost any small edible berries and achieve a similarly pleasant wine.
The first time I made this recipe, I made only one gallon and, because of a spectacular equipment failure, ended up with only one precious litre. But with the instructions below, your first efforts are likely to be wildly successful.
Here are the basic ingredients to make three gallons:
Red Currants – 9 pounds (half fresh from the garden, and half frozen from last summer)
Black Raspberries – 4.5 pounds (six 12-ounce frozen packages from Trader Joe’s)
White Sugar – 7.5 pounds
Filtered water – 2 gallons to start, additional to top off
Dry Pectic Enzyme – 1.5 teaspoons
RC-212 Yeast – 5 grams (Cote des Blancs yeast would also work well)
Go-Ferm (yeast starter) – 1 teaspoon, added to 2 ounces of filtered water
Fermaid-K (yeast nutrient) – 1 teaspoon a day after fermentation begins; 1 more teaspoon after two more days
Potassium Metasulphite – .25 teaspoon each, for 2 doses
Here is the equipment you’ll need:
5- or 6-gallon plastic bucket
2-gallon or larger soup bucket (for heating water)
3-gallon glass carboy
Airlock (for carboy)
Paddle (for stirring must in bucket)
Here’s the process: Thaw the red currants and black raspberries, mash them well and add them to your 5- or 6-gallon plastic bucket. Stir in the sugar. Heat the 2 gallons of water to a boil. Dump the boiling water directly into the bucket with the berries and sugar. Stir vigorously. The boiling water will help sanitize your berries and sugar.
When this concoction cools towards room temperature, stir in the pectic enzyme.
Separately, mix the Go-Ferm with 2 ounces of filtered water at room temperature. Stir well. Add the yeast and stir lightly. Let that sit for 15-20 minutes to reconstitute the yeast.
Add the reconstituted yeast to the bucket of berry must by pouring it lightly into the bucket. Don’t stir. Fermentation should pick up over the next 24 hours.
Once fermentation has gotten quite active, stir in 1 teaspoon of Fermaid-K.
At least once each day, stir the fermenting must and push the berries and stems back down into the juice with your paddle.
After two more days, stir in 1 additional teaspoon of Fermaid-K.
When another day or two has passed, strain the berries out of your pail, squeezing any remaining juice from their pulp before discarding. Pour all of the remaining juice into your three-gallon glass carboy. Top off with filtered water and add an airlock. Your wine is likely to keep fermenting for awhile.
After a month in the carboy, pour or rack the clear wine into a clean carboy with .25 teaspoon of potassium metasulphite.
Let the wine age for one or more months according to your preference. Rack with an additional .25 teaspoon potassium metasulphite. Then bottle.
This will be a lightly sweet, bright and slightly acidic treat. Enjoy slightly chilled.