Topic: Education and Values
Make a Quality Berry CountryWine
Good day, post-modern Pioneer! Here's a skill you may want to add to your kitchen competencies...how to make a rustic, berry wine. This is a long post but well worth the read and print and keep for future reference!
Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas are all just around the corner and we know “it's all about the food.” In fact, most of the time, we're just serving mineral or ice water at the table, occasionally a white or rose' wine. But, this year, why not consider crafting your own rustic, dry wine using a non-grape fruit concentrate? Unlike our wonderful and ancient grape winemaking techniques, this simple berry wine is relatively quick because non-grape fruit wines do NOT improve with age or oak or anything else. They are what they are once the fermentation process is over.
Now, I am not talking about those overly yeasty “jug” wines of old—or that fruit, sugar and alcohol blend bad idea you picked up at a tourist resort. You can actually make a pretty decent wine with the old balloon-as-airlock if you apply some of the concepts used in traditional grape wine-making to your “Berry Country Wine Recipe”.
This recipe will yield 2- 750ml bottles of wine when the whole process is over, a nice amount for sampling with a holiday dinner So, if you want more, then double the recipe and number of fermentation bottles.
I am also going to assume you want to work with products and supplies you have at home or can easily get at a grocery, meaning frozen fruit concentrates, pure cane sugar, and rapid-rising yeast granules found in the baking section.
This wine will be sulfate free, but that means you must adhere to food safety principles of cleaning and you must assure your alcohol content will be adequate at the end of the process to kill any bacteria and yeast. We'll do that by adjusting the sugar content at the beginning.
This simplified methodology will give you a nice, light and fruity, and DRY final product. Serve chilled.
Berry Country Wine
( for 2- 750 ml bottles)
2 half gallon glass milk bottles
Small jar with lid to make yeast mixture
2 clean, uninflated Balloons
2 disposable, paper Coffee Filters to fit into the funnel for later transfer
2 screw top wine bottles, recycled, cleaned and sanitized, or
Glass wine decanter or pitcher with cap
2- 12oz. Cans of 100% Juice concentrate—your choice cranberry, any berry with berry blend.
(Note: Read the ingredients list very carefully. It's OK if apple juice or grape concentrate is in the blend, but it must NOT contain any high fructose corn syrup or sucralose, or any other additives, EXCEPT for Citric Acid and/or Ascorbic acid—these are OK additives.)
Filtered, pure water – 48 oz. to reconstitute the concentrate,
¼ cup for yeast mixture, ¼ cup for simple syrup mixture
(again read all the ingredients to make sure there's nothing added in the water, you don't want flouride or s ofteners, just plain, filtered water)
Pure Cane Sugar : (1) ½ cup mixed in ¼ cup of boiling water, and (2) 1 Tbsp mixed with ¼ cup warm water and ½ tsp. Yeast
Rapid Rising Yeast ½ tsp of granules mixed with sugar and water as above.
Start by sanitizing all equipment, hot heat and detergent in a dishwasher works fine.
Defrost the canned juices, either in the refrigerator or by microwave as instructed on the cans.
(Note: I used this blend: “Old Orchard 100% Juice Blueberry-Pomegranate” which also contained Aronia berry juice, apple juice, and grape juice. I am expecting all these fruits to be expressed in the final wine. I looked for Cranberry juice but the blends were limited to cran-apple, cran-raspberry and the super-antioxidants in the blueberry-pomegranate and Aronia berry won me over.)
Put 1 can of concentrate into each half-gallon bottle.
Reconstitute with TWO cans of water (not three like the instructions on the can say for making juice).
(Note: Even though we did not dilute this concentrate fully, The BRIX of this mixture was still only 15. Unlike wine grapes which naturally have high BRIX at maturity, our non-grape fruit concentrates will need more sugar in order to yield an alcohol content needed for food safety as well as appropriateness for a dinner wine.)
Make the sugar syrup mixture as noted above. Divide between the two bottles shake gently to distribute.
(This produced a BRIX of 20, potentially an alcohol of about 10-10.6%.)
Make the yeast mixture, using warm water. Shake gently in the small jar and allow to sit for 30-45 minutes until dissolved.
Add 1 TBSP of the yeast mixture into each of the two bottles. Reserve the remaining yeast mixture in the jar with its lid loosely on. If you are not fermenting in 24 hours, additional yeast may be added to each bottle then, see below.
Put an uninflated balloon on the top of each bottle, securing it down on the neck of the bottle.
Gently swirl the bottles to distribute the yeast mixture and place the ballooned bottles on a counter at room temperature 65-75 degrees.
Inspect over the next several hours and you should see the balloon begin to fill with air (actually carbon dioxide).
If there is no air in the balloon at all the next day, then add reserved yeast mixture 1 Tbsp to each bottle. Note that the yeast mixture itself should be bubbling away in the small jar, and if not, then the yeast is bad.
Leave undisturbed on the countertop. Below is a picture when first set up.
Here's what you should have at the end of 24 hours.
This is Day 2 at the time of maximum yeast growth and conversion of sugars to alcohol. It's cloudy and you may wonder “why on earth did I do this, I certainly won't drink this concoction?”
Trust me. Be patient. You can wait a few more days. As the yeast utilizes the sugar and converts it to alcohol, then higher alcohol content will kill off the yeast.
And your next thought is: “Will that balloon will explode?” It won't- it's porous and excess gases will escape.
At THE END OF WEEK ONE: I tested the specific gravity and BRIX again. Not ready, even though the wine was clearing and the yeast-y top receding.
Lift the edge of each balloon, deflate them and replace.
WAIT ANOTHER WEEK. During this time, you'll see for yourself that additional air will fill into the balloon showing there's still fermentation going on.
AT THE END OF WEEK TWO: The specific gravity is 0.995 and you can see the top surface is pretty clear, there's sediment on the bottom which is actually the dead yeast cells.
Now we're ready to remove the balloons and pour the wine into the prepped empty wine bottles, through a coffee filter lined funnel. I say “very gently” because we do not want to disturb the yeast sediment lying at the bottom of the jars. That sediment should be discarded, not bottled.
The wine should be capped and again allowed to sit undisturbed and upright (in the refrigerator now) for another week or more, as additional sediment will descend to the bottom, further clarifying the wine. Basically, this “Country Wine” is ready to drink as early as 2 weeks from the time we started this project, or you can keep longer in the refrigerator.
This wine has a beautiful color, and lovely fruity fragrances with no off-odors or chemical smells. It is a dry wine, so makes a good table wine for those heavier holiday foods.
This works because we used a good quality fruit concentrate, did not reach for the stars in terms of expectations of creating a Gold Medal aged, vintage, estate grape wine, but instead set our goals on a blended berry wine with reasonable palatability (nice acidity, pH 3.5, alcohol about 10%) and interesting complexity. We got the bonus of playing around with all of these super-fruits --blueberry, pomegranate, Aronia berry--known for their high anti-oxidants, making it a good conversation piece. And, we got to work our primal, pioneering spirit into the blend.
We made a DRY, TABLE wine, that's now fully fermented. If you want to change this into a sweet wine, at this point you can do so by adding simple syrup: 1 oz pure cane sugar, dissolved in 1 oz. water. Add ½ oz (that's 1 TBSP or 15 ml) to each bottle and you'll convert the dry wine to a sweet wine.
IF you simply must “Craft” your wine further: You can add aliquots of a dry red (grape) wine into your berry wine for more complex flavor profiles in a “blended” wine.