I’m not sure why but I have been in a wine-making mood of late. I’ve got things brewing all over the place. The smell of fermentation is beginning to take over my kitchen.
When we were in Michigan last, I brought home a bag of apples and a bunch of wild mint I’d collected in the park. These became my first two batches.
I’ve been using a book called Wild Winemaking by Richard Bender as a reference. The general process is to cut up the fruit or herbs and put them in a large container. Herbs often get raisins added too. Boil a gallon of water and dissolve several pounds of sugar in it. Pour this over the fruit or herbs. When it cools, pitch in the yeast. Let it ferment a week or so, stirring daily, then strain out the solids and move the wine to a carboy to ferment for several months.
This was my apple wine after a week of fermenting.
I like to scoop out the big stuff with a slotted spoon then strain the rest through a fine mesh sieve. Here you can see currant wine being strained.
This past week I strained apple, red currant, wild mint and Thai basil. I’ve also started a batch of wild raspberry-apple from the pulp I had leftover from jelly making. Today I might begin a batch of vanilla-rose just because it sounds delightful.
When I move the wine into the carboy, you can really see how active the fermentation is with all the solids removed. Check out this Thai basil bubbling away…
The currant wine actually bubbled up and over into the airlock and turned the airlock water red.
Today I think I will rack the wine to get some of the remaining yeasty debris. This is a siphoning process where you move the liquids into a new jug leaving the solids at the bottom behind. This may help slow down the fermentation slightly.
The solids leftover are a beloved treat for the chickens. This bowl contains apples, currants, raisins, mint and basil.
My strawberry-mulberry wine is still bubbling away in its carboy. I started it in May. It will probably be ready to bottle by Thanksgiving time.
If you’re a wine maker what’s the best flavor you’ve ever made?