Making Fruit Wine

Posted on Tuesday, September 20, 2011 | By Nicole Easterday |
I've recently been toying with making fruit wine using the kits that I carry in the store.  The Backyard Fruit Wine Making Kit includes everything you need to make a delicious batch of just about any type of wine.  It's not limited to fruit either - recipes range from currant wine to watermelon wine and everything in between (including corn and onion!!)  All you have to add is sugar and produce (fresh or even dried). I found myself with tons of strawberries at the peak of their freshness so I decided to try out the strawberry wine recipe.  The recipe booklet included with the kit just happened to include a recipe for such a wine using nearly exactly the amount of fruit I had on hand!  I ran through the directions quickly to make sure there would be no surprises then jumped right in. After washing the strawberries (I recommend organic for something like this since anything on the strawberry will be in the wine) and hulling them, I put them in a basket and weighed them to insure I had the correct amount.  I laid out all the ingredients from the kit and compared them to the recipe to ensure I had enough of everything it required.  Then I then measured out the sugar - yep, lots of it, but don't worry the yeast consumes much of that sugar and converts it into alcohol. The recipe called for putting 3.5 lbs of strawberries into a steeping bag (included in the kit) and then mashing them within the bag inside of the jar to release their juices.  As you can see from the photos, this part was pretty fun and I was surprised at how much juice they actually yielded.  Next you tie up the steeping bag and tuck it down inside the jar. You then pour in 2 lbs of sugar and add the rest of the ingredients except for the yeast:
  • 1 tsp acid blend
  • 1/4 tsp tannin
  • 1/2 tsp pectic enzyme
  • 1 tsp yeast nutrient
  • 1 Campden tablet, crushed.
  • 7 pints water
I found the ingredients combine more easily if you add the water last. All of these ingredients except the sugar and water are found in the kit in enough quantity to make about six 1-gallon batches of wine.  Mix the ingredients thoroughly then put the lid with the airlock on the jar and let it sit for 24 hours.  The next day you stir the mixture, making sure to mash up the strawberry pulp that is still in the steeping bag inside the container.  Now you can add the wine yeast, stirring it in well before putting the lid and airlock back on. From this point you'll want to stir the mixture and mash the pulp inside the steeping beg every day.  The strawberry mash will continue to release juices and after a couple of days you'll start to notice some yeast activity in the jar.  The airlock will start bubbling and the mixture inside the jar will begin to churn as the yeast feasts on your sugar, producing alcohol and carbon dioxide. You'll want to start measuring the specific gravity (SG) after three or four days using the hydrometer which is included in the kit.  A hydrometer measures the weight of a liquid against that of water and measuring is easy.  You fill the hydrometer's tube (the container it comes in) about halfway with wine liquid and then drop the hydrometer into the tube.  After locating the specific gravity measurements (they look like 1.100, etc) check the number that sits right at the surface level of the liquid.  It might be somewhere around 1.070] and you're aiming for 1.030.  The number will get lower (though further up the scale) as time goes on so if it's not there keep checking day by day. You're actually measuring the weight of the liquid because alcohol is lighter than water.  As the yeast turns the sugar into alcohol, the liquid is becoming less dense.  The percentage change from when you first mix the ingredients to the final reading is a fairly decent way to tell the amount of alcohol you ended up with. Once the specific gravity reaches 1.030 you're going to siphon the wine out of the original container and put it into another container where it will begin it's clarification process, during which the strawberry particles will settle to the bottom of the jar.  The best way to siphon the liquid out is to place the full wine jar on the counter then place the entire tubing (included in the kit) into the jar, leaving one end outside.  Submerge the tubing coil deeply into the liquid and allow it to fill with wine.  After it has filled completely, use the included clamp to clamp one end shut.  Lower the clamped end of the tube below the bottom of the jar toward a second container. I find it easiest to set your full container on the counter while draining it into your second container on the floor.  Once the opening of the tube is inside the second container remove the clamp allowing the liquid to move into the second container.  Keep the back end of the tube which is inside the wine near the surface of the wine so it doesn't suck up the sediment at the bottom of the wine jar.  As soon as the liquid level is close to the bottom of the jar, nearing the sediment, remove the tubing so it doesn't pull up the sediment.  You don't have to worry about removing all of the liquid - it's more important to avoid pulling up too much sediment. The reason you use the tubing is to avoid aerating the wine too much.  Just pouring it would introduce too much air. Now that your wine is in the secondary container you'll replace the lid and airlock and let it set for another two months or so to further clarify before bottling. The best part is that you can get the kit from for only $39, which we think is a steal.  Buy yours today and use up that harvest glut of produce in no time! If you have time, read this blog post about why I built this particular wine kit. Is anyone else out there making wine at home from backyard fruit?  I'd love to hear your tips and tricks or any recommendations of things to include in the kit.