Preparing wine at home is simple, fun and every sip will pay off for the work done. Fruity wines are a colorful and tasty addition to any winery; they are also excellent ingredients in the kitchen for making sauces, marinades, salad dressings and even desserts. Although the process is quite long, it is easy to understand and can also be completed at home with simple ingredients. Homemade fruity wines are popular gifts and have an interesting flavor. Make a cherry wine that will intrigue your guests or that you can enjoy on your own!
- 3, 5 kg of cherries
- 500 ml of honey
- 1 pack of yeast
- Filtered water
Part 1 of 3: Making Cherry Wine
Step 1. Prepare the work environment
Make sure you have a clean and large counter to proceed on; you need to bring together some specific tools that allow wine to ferment properly, but which should be relatively inexpensive. You will need:
- An 8 liter earthenware or glass jar;
- A 4 liter demijohn (a large glass container with a small neck);
- An airlock valve;
- A thin plastic tube to suck up the liquid;
- Several clean wine bottles, with screw or cork stoppers;
- Sodium or potassium metabisulfite tablets (optional).
Step 2. Get the cherries
You can use fresh or frozen ones; however, you have to consider some factors when choosing:
- Frozen fruit is the right solution for this kind of preparation, because the freezing process favors the fermentation and breakdown of the fruit itself. Additionally, cherries are harvested when they reach peak ripeness and frozen immediately, instead of being left to ripen for several days on store shelves.
- Frozen cherries have already been pitted and therefore require less work.
- You can also freeze fresh fruit, but remember to remove the pits first!
- If you opt for frozen ones, make sure they have been in the freezer for at least three days before starting the process.
Step 3. Wash the fruit (optional)
This step is only necessary if you are using fresh cherries. Remove the stems, leaves and wash the cherries thoroughly.
- Some winemakers choose not to wash the fruit before pressing it, because it contains natural yeasts on the peel; in this way it is possible to trigger fermentation thanks to the air and these natural substances. However, washing the fruit and measuring out the yeast later allows you to better control the flavor you want to achieve.
- If you let the sourdough to multiply, the wine may take on an unpleasant taste.
- If you are in the mood for experimentation, you can make two batches of wine, one with controlled fermentation and the other with natural yeasts, so you can know which one you like best.
Step 4. Remove the pits (optional)
Again, you should only proceed if you are using fresh fruit. It is a tedious, difficult and time-consuming job. If you have decided to use fresh cherries, try these methods to get rid of the pits:
- Take a toothpick, an open paper clip, a hair clip or an orange wood stick (the kind used for manicures); insert the tool of your choice into the stem of the cherry. You should feel that it comes into contact with the pit, then rotate the tool around the seed to extract it. This is not an easy job, but with patience and a little practice you can find the most effective twisting motion for you.
- Insert the tip of a piping bag or straw into the end of the cherry (where the stem engages) and push it through the fruit. The tip or straw should hit the core and push it out the other side.
Step 5. Crush the cherries
Put them in a jar and use a potato masher to turn them into a pulp until the level of the released juices reaches 4 cm from the top of the container.
Refill the jar with filtered water if you can't get enough juice to almost reach the rim
Step 6. Add a sodium or potassium metabisulfite tablet (optional)
This product releases sulfur dioxide into the mixture, killing natural yeasts and bacteria. If you are using fresh cherries and want to take advantage of wild yeasts, skip this step.
- Alternatively, you can add 500ml of boiling water to the fruit.
- Tap water could alter the taste of wine, as it contains additives; remember to use only the filtered or source one.
Step 7. Incorporate the honey
This ingredient provides nourishment to the yeasts and sweetens the wine. The amount of honey you decide to use directly changes the sweetness of the final product. Here are some factors to consider:
- If you prefer a sweet wine, add more honey; if you don't like too much sweetness, limit yourself to 500ml of honey.
- Alternatively, you can use white or brown sugar.
- You can always add more honey later if the wine isn't as sweet as you'd like.
Step 8. Add the yeast (optional)
If you've opted to incorporate yeast, now is the time to use it. Pour it into the jar, stirring with a long-handled spoon.
You can skip this step only if you have decided to use the natural yeasts found in fruit
Part 2 of 3: Fermenting the Cherry Wine
Step 1. Cover the jar and let the liquid sit overnight
The scent of the must attracts insects, so cover the container to protect the mixture, while allowing the exchange of air; you can then use a specific lid for this purpose or stretch a cloth or t-shirt over the opening of the jar, securing it with a large elastic. Put the container in a warm room where the temperature stays around 21 ° C all night.
Leaving the jar in a cold environment does not favor the development of yeasts, while keeping it in a too hot room the yeasts die. The best solution is to place it in an area of the house at room temperature and constant
Step 2. Stir the wort a couple of times a day
Now that the wine is fermented, the process will proceed more slowly. The day after the wort is prepared, open the jar and mix the contents before covering it again. Repeat this process every 4 hours or so on the first day, then mix a couple of times a day for the next three.
- The wort should start boiling as the yeasts are activated.
- This fermentation process allows to obtain a delicious wine.
Step 3. Filter and transfer the liquid
When the formation of bubbles slows down, about three days after the start of fermentation, it is time to filter the solid part and transfer the liquid to a demijohn for long-term storage.
- When you have poured the liquid into the demijohn, close the latter with an airlock valve to allow the gas to escape, but not the entry of oxygen which would ruin the wine.
- If you don't have such a valve, you can use a small balloon to place over the opening. Every few days, remove it to let out the gases that inflated it and replace it immediately.
Step 4. Let the wine age
Wait at least a month, but it would be better to let it rest for up to nine months; meanwhile, the wine will mature developing a richer aroma.
If you used more honey, it is better to age the wine longer, otherwise it will taste too sweet
Step 5. Bottle it
To prevent the liquid from becoming contaminated with bacteria that would make it vinegar, add a sodium or potassium metabisulfite tablet as soon as you remove the airlock valve. Transfer the wine to clean bottles, filling them almost to the brim, then plug them immediately. Let the wine continue to age in the bottles or enjoy it right away!
Use dark glass bottles to preserve the color of red wines
Part 3 of 3: Creative Variations
Step 1. Experiment with different types of cherries
Currently, you can find several varieties of this fruit on the market; by using different types you can change the flavor of the wine. Here are some details to consider:
- Try late cherries or sweet cherries for a sweeter wine.
- Black cherries are perfect for a dry wine.
Step 2. Make a "dry" wine
This adjective defines a wine that has no residual sugars, therefore it is not sweet. To prepare it, let the wort ferment completely, so that the yeasts consume all the sugars. Here are some factors to consider in the process:
- After about two weeks, most of the sugar has been "eaten" by the yeasts and fermentation slows down, making it easier to control the reduction in the sugar level in the wine. By monitoring the sugar concentration, you can get an idea of what stage fermentation is in.
- You can stop fermentation early and leave a small sugar residue in the final product.
- Fermentation is considered completed when the wine reaches the desired level of residual sugar or has become "dry", with a value equal to 0 ° Brix.
- A wine with a 0.2% residual sugar contains 2 grams of sugar per 1 liter of liquid. Dry wines generally contain 0, 2-0, 3%, semi-dry wines have a sugar content between 1 and 5%, while sweet dessert wines have a percentage between 5 and 10%.
- There is no "correct" sugar level for wine, it just depends on personal tastes.
Step 3. Add some oak
You can add a more complex flavor to the wine by adding small amounts of oak wood during fermentation. Here are some more details:
- Use powdered wood, this way you don't run the risk of overdoing the doses. The powder ends up on the bottom of the jar during fermentation, facilitating the racking operations.
- When adding powdered wood to the batch of home wine, you should calculate a variable dose between 4 and 20 grams per four liters of liquid, based on the type of wine (white or red) and the flavor you want to achieve. Generally speaking, for a 24-liter batch you should add about 40-50 grams of powder for a white wine or 40-85 grams for a red one.