Instructions for making one gallon of fruit, flower or vegetable wine

  1. Pulp picked fruit. Sprinkle on pectic enzyme (to encourage fruit cells to release their juice) and let stand in clean plastic pail for 2-3 days, stirring regularly. Press mixture and strain to get pure fruit juice. For flowers or vegetables, pour boiling water over them to make the juice, let it sit until cool, then strain it.
  2. Dissolve sugar in boiling water (un-chlorinated); cool, and add to juice in pail
  3. Add juice of one lemon, unless fruit is naturally quite acidic (a good acid balance is important for wine quality)
  4. When mixture is at room temperature, add one package (1 tsp) yeast dissolved for 15 min in ½ cup body-temp water (wine yeast is best, but bread yeast will work)
  5. Cover mixture in pail with loosely fitting plastic top or loosely tied sheet of plastic; let “primary” fermentation proceed at constant room temperature (20 degrees C works well)
  6. When bubbling has slowed down, in about a week, stir and pour mixture into clean one-gallon glass jug one inch from top and insert air lock to allow CO2 to escape but keep out oxygen (our predecessors used sterilized cotton wool to plug the neck, which works most of the time; but a plastic air lock with water, available most anywhere, works without fail). Leave mixture for this “secondary” fermentation also at room temperature. In another week or two it will go “dry” (i.e., yeast will have consumed all the sugar it can and bubbling has stopped). Taste: if too dry, stir in some sugar (1 tsp or so) and let fermentation continue for a few more days. When all fermentation is finished (the air lock no longer bubbles), you have your wine, although at this stage it is very “nouveau”, often still cloudy, and needs to rest for several months.
  7. Carefully siphon wine off sediment into clean one-gallon glass jug, top up with water, re-insert air lock, put jug in cellar, and let it rest and clear.
  8. After several months, siphon wine again off sediment into a clean gallon jug. If not clear, let sit longer. If clear, bottle wine into clean bottles. They can be corked (with a hand-corker), or closed with sterilized screw tops, and the bottles rested on their sides in the cellar. Ideally the wine should be left in the bottle for another three or four months, but most people get impatient.

The great thing about home-made wine, besides the minimal cost, is that the taste of the particular fruit (or flower or vegetable) is always a pleasant surprise, a unique bouquet and flavour. Chacun à son goût, so if you find you don’t care for your dandelion wine, try a different flower next time. Over time, each country home develops its own distinctive “house” wine. Ours is blueberry.

The accompanying recipes, taken from the NFWI book, are for one gallon of wine, about six bottles’ worth. To make a larger quantity (e.g., if you have a 5-gal glass carboy) simply multiply the ingredients by five (except for the yeast: since yeast grows, one packet will do five gallons as well as one).

(Wine-making disclaimer.)

Specific Wine Recipes