When we imagine making wine at home, we are thinking of grapes. Go to the local liquor shop. The shelves are filled with wines crafted using Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Cabernet, and many other famous grapes.
What do you think of wines made with fruits that are not grapes? Since the advent of making wine at home as a pastime, it is now easy for the average homeowner to create wine using cheap fresh fruits from garden varieties.
Do not think of these wines with hooch from the back. Nowadays, you can make incredible homemade wine from fruits and apricot wines comparable to the sophistication of every wine that costs $20. Chardonnay is a berry wine that tastes as well with a prime rib as a good bottle of retail-store-bought Merlot.
Making fruit wine is as simple as making wine made from fresh grapes. The process of making wine is identical, and consideration will be given to exact elements when making grape juice for making wine at home.
The grape juice is naturally suited for making wine and requires only minor adjustments in fermentation. In many regions around the globe, California included, wine-making grapes have sufficient sugar and are low in acidity to make excellent wines without doing anything other than allowing them to ferment. However, regardless, they are checked and sometimes modified.
With other fruits than grapes, changes are nearly always required when making wine; however, they are easy to make:
- The quantity of fruit used per gallon has to be established.
- The amount of available sugars is to be measured and then adjusted.
- The acidity of fruit juices must be checked and adjusted.
Although it may seem like much work, it is straightforward and only takes a few minutes to complete. It lets you take almost every fruit you can imagine and create a distinctive wine that will often surprise the winemaker who made it.
How Much Fruit to Use to Make Fruit Wine
There are a myriad of fruits you can make wine at home that you can use to make the wines you want is innumerable. Strawberries, plums and watermelon, blackberries, peaches, grapefruits, boysenberries, gooseberries and pears, pineapples, persimmons, and many more are perfect for making homebrewed wine from fruits; however, this list is not all-inclusive. You can find a complete list of recipes on our wine-making recipe page.
Like any other wine, you should begin the wine-making process at home by looking at the fruit. No wine is better than the fruit that was used to make it. Be attentive to the quality of the wine. This will pay off multiple times over with consistently excellent wine.
The risk of bruises and molds is at a minimum. The fruit must also be washed before crushing it in the same way as if you were making food with it. Most of the time, the fruits used in home wine-making must be fully ripe. If the fruits are picked early enough, they will create wines that are not the distinctive flavor of the particular fruit. For instance, homemade wine made from pears will look more like apple wine unless the pear is slowly over-ripe.
Contrary to grape wines, which are typically made from only grape juice, homemade wines are generally diluted with water before making wine. The reason for this is that particular fruit like elderberries are too intense in taste. The other reason is that certain fruits are acidic and will create a wine that is too acidic and sharp tasting. A good example is blueberry and gooseberry.
On the other hand, apple wines are made from pure apple juice with no water added, and they require an additional addition of acid from the fruit to make them. Therefore, there is no standard guideline to determine the amount of fruits or water that should be used to make homemade fruit wines.
After all, that after which, the following list provides some general guidelines on the amount of wine-making fruit you can use to make 5 gallons of homemade fruit wines.
Amount of Fruit to Add to Wine
- Apricots . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18 lbs.
- Blackberries . . . . . . . . . . 15 lbs.
- Elderberries . . . . . . . . . . 10 lbs.
- Gooseberries. . . . . . . . . .11 lbs.
- Peaches . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 lbs.
- Pears . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22 lbs.
- Persimmons . . . . . . . . . .15 lbs.
- Pineapple . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 lbs.
- Plums . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 lbs.
- Raspberries . . . . . . . . . . 15 lbs.
- Strawberries . . . . . . . . . . 16 lbs.
- Watermelon (Centers). .18 lbs.
These are only guidelines. In fact, there is no set quantity of fruit you can use to make wine at home. This is because you might like your fruit wine heavy, like an alcoholic dessert wine, or crisp and light. For instance, when a homemade wine recipe requires thirteen pounds of blueberries to make 5 Gallons of homemade wine, you could go to the 18-20 pound mark if you believe you want your wine to be more hefty, like the weight of a Burgundy. Alternatively, use 10 pounds if you prefer lighter-bodied Blush wines. However, taking a recipe for making wine much more than the guidelines would be unwise.
Like the wine-making case, allowing the pulp and juice in the beginning few days of fermentation can further enhance the wine’s character and body and increase its color. The pulp is where a large portion of the character of a fruit is.
In this process, the pulp is dissolved, and the help of Pectic enzymes liquefies a large portion of it. Natural wine tannins, as well as other nutrients that are contained in the pulp, eventually release into the liquid. Utilizing the pulp in this way, you are not only making a fruit wine from scratch with a more significant body and flavor. However, you’re also producing alcohol that is more durable and will maintain its taste and color for longer durations.
Testing Sugars in Fruit Wine
The other aspect you must be aware of when making apple juice at home for wine-making is the beginning sugar content.
Fermentation occurs when yeast consumes the sugars in your juice, transforming the sugar into half CO2 gas and half alcohol by weight.
What amount of sugar you begin with will determine the amount of alcohol you will have, including any sugars that did not ferment. It is as easy as that, and all wine-making items can be purchased from Adventures at Homebrewing.
This is the point where this is where a wine-making hydrometer becomes your most trusted partner. The hydrometer will help you determine the amount of sugar in your fruit juice and how much alcohol the sugar could create. In addition, it allows you to figure out how much sugar you should add to your juice.
The wine-making hydrometer is made of glass with a weight at one floating end. It is used to take a sugar reading by looking at the amount it floats within the juice. The majority of wine-making hydrometers have a scale that is called “Potential Alcohol.” When you check this scale before the fermentation process, you will be able to determine if you should increase the amount of sugar you use based on the amount of alcohol you would like to achieve.
We now come to the next question “What type of sugar is best to use when adjusting your juice’s sugar level?”. This is a loaded wine-making issue that wineries have managed to avoid for the most part. It is due to the privilege of obtaining all the sugars that their juices require from the grape. This means that there needs to be more research conducted regarding the issue. However, there have been several opinions aired.
My view is “Consider all of them!”. Different sugars have different characteristics. Sugars like cane, corn sugar and beet sugars, brown sugar, rice sugar, fructose or powdered malt, and other sugars. Each can be used in home wine-making using fruit. It’s all about the person’s preference and the context that the sugar is to be utilized. If you are still determining the type to choose, go with the least expensive option: corn sugar or cane sugar. However, you are free to play around.
Honey is a new ball of wax in the realm of homemade fruit-made wine. “Pyment” is a term used to describe fruit wines that have some honey added to the wine. Honey, as it is in its simplest form, provides the appearance of an “herbal” finish to a homemade wine. When you use honey spun from an individual blossom, the result is awe-inspiring. For example, blending raspberry juice with raspberry blossom-spun honey makes an extremely balanced fruit wine.
It is also possible to use concentrated fruit juices in addition to your fruit’s fresh juice as a sugar source. This will increase the volume of the wine and enhance the fruitiness of the wine. If a light fruity wine is sought, there are better choices than this one. Concentrated juices of fruit also increase the acidity level of a drink. This could be beneficial, depending on whether the juice is acid-sensitive. That brings you to the next wine-making subject.
How to Test and Adjust Acidity in Fruit Wine
A proper quantity of tartaric acid in the wine will bring two distinct advantages. Not only does it improve the wine’s overall flavor and balance, but it can also help fermentation.
The acidity of fruit varies significantly from to fruit. It is unlikely to pucker when in a banana, but it is acidic just like lime or raspberry. It is just less. Couple this with the quantity of fruit you consume for each gallon of fruit wine is different also, and it begins to be apparent that adjusting your acidity level is an essential aspect of home wine-making.