Brewing America Lemon Berry Wine Recipe
READ THROUGH THESE STEPS COMPLETELY BEFORE BEGINNING, TO MAKE SURE YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO FINISH YOUR WINE.
Always make sure anything that touches your wine is both cleaned and sanitized and record everything you do!
This is a sweet-tart fruity “blush” wine made from raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries with a lemon twist (if desired). It ferments quickly and clears fast. Batches of this wine have been cleared and bottled in less than two weeks (your experience may vary).
Step 1: To a cleaned and sanitized seven gallon (or larger) primary, add—in this order:
1 bottle (32 or 48 oz each) 100% Lemon Juice (ReaLemon or Walmart brand works well too.) I use both brands depending on what I can find. The difference is very little with taste.
More or less lemon juice can be added to your taste, (i.e., if you want to reduce the acid level use less lemon juice). The acid added here will help balance the final wine. Substitutes include any other kind of citrus juice (orange, lime, etc.), or use no citrus at all for a very soft, supple blush.
Add water to about three gallons and then add 10 pounds of white granulated sugar. Leave some room for the fruit. This will give you a finished alcohol by volume of about 10%-12%): Add more/less sugar for high/lower desired final ABV. Stir the sugar until completely dissolved.
1 tsp. tannin (stir)
3 tsp. yeast nutrient (stir)
1 tsp. yeast energizer (stir)
3 tsp. pectic enzyme (stir)
The natural sugars from the fruit (below) will slightly increase the final ABV, so be careful how high you drive up the SG at this point!
Add 6 to 12 lbs. (I add 12 pounds) of Triple Berry Blend (raspberry/blackberry/blueberry–available in most grocery store freezer sections), frozen then thawed, in a fine mesh nylon bag (tied shut), placed in primary (add any extra juice from the fruit as well): Give the bag a couple of squeezes to work in pectic enzyme. You may also toss the fruit directly into primary, but this makes for a “messier” fermentation and subsequently will require more clearing time and further racking. Dozens of variations on this recipe have been created by simply substituting different or combinations of different fruit.
Note: I use 12 pounds because it adds body to your wine and I use frozen fruit because thawed fruit is messy.
Top the water to six to seven gallons and stir well. I target a finished amount of 6.5 gallons. The fruit bag will reduce in size as it breaks down.
Test SG with a hydrometer (remember, you are looking for an SG around 1.075 and higher).
Option 1: Do not snap down the lid or add an airlock. Cover the lid with a cloth or towel.
Option 2: I use the lid with an airlock because I don’t take any chances with bugs. Always comes out wonderful! Just be sure to press the fruit and stir the must every day.
Place brew belt (if desired): Keep temp in 68F-80F range. A higher temp will result in a faster fermentation, and a sharper tasting, more colorful wine. A lower temp will produce a paler blush with fruitier aroma and a smoother taste. Let sit undisturbed for 12-24 hours…
Step 2: To the primary fermenter, add:
1 to 2 packets of EC-1118 Yeast (follow yeast manufacturer’s directions): Sprinkle yeast into one cup of warm water (100F), let sit for 15 minutes (no longer), stir and add to the primary. Other yeast strains also work well.
Experiment! Stir Primary Vigorously! (I use 2 packets if I add extra sugar up to 15 pounds to be sure that it fully ferments in primary stage).
Step 3: Each day, do the following, in this order:
Check and record temperature
Check and record the specific gravity
Squeeze juices from fruit pack into the fermenter and remove fruit pack (The
Presser Method): Temporarily place in sanitized bucket or bowl.
Stir primary vigorously: To introduce oxygen into must, suspend the yeast, and drive off CO2.
Replace fruit pack in primary
(Tip: I just squeeze the bag and pull it out above the bucket when I am stirring.)
Step 4: When the SG drops to <1.000, do the following:
Squeeze juices from fruit pack into fermenter—remove fruit pack: Discard fruit.
Note: When the specific gravity (SG) has fallen below 1.000, and the fruit bag has been removed, discontinue stirring daily but check the SG and temp daily as before. Proceed from here only when the wine’s SG has stabilized below 1.000. A stable SG means that the SG for three consecutive days reveals no change in the SG.
Rack (siphon or drain) the wine into a cleaned and sanitized six-gallon carboy, leaving the gross lees (the stuff in the bottom of the primary) undisturbed.
Add 1/4 tsp. Potassium Metabisulfite (dissolved in half cup cool water) and stir
Add 3 tsp. Potassium Sorbate (dissolved in half cup cool water) and stir
Degas wine very thoroughly: I cannot emphasize this enough! Gas in the wine will prevent it from clearing quickly.
Add Sparkolloid* (or another clearing agent) per package directions (stir for 2 minutes): *1 tbs in one cup of water simmered (boiled) for about 5-10 minutes. Add hot mixture directly to carboy and stir. I use Sparkolloid for all my wine brews now. It is an excellent product! If the carboy is not full, add enough cool water to bring the level within two inches of the top opening: Adding a like wine rather than water is preferred. Cheap white zinfandel will work well.
Add a bung and airlock (filled halfway with sulfite solution or sanitizer mixed water).
Allow clearing undisturbed for no less than 1 week
Step 5: When wine is clear:
Carefully rack off one gallon of wine into a cleaned and sanitized container, and set aside.
Carefully rack the remainder of the wine off of the lees into a cleaned & sanitized six-gallon carboy.
Add 2-6 cups of white granulated sugar (stir until sugar is completely dissolved): This is where your personal taste comes in. Different people like different levels of sweetness in their wine.
My wine is made with ¾ of a cup of sugar per gallon. Remember! The sugars will blend with the lemon and berry flavors over time, and the sweetness will come forward. Do not over sweeten! I found that it is very important to add a little and then taste it. It should be a little dry because the sugar blends with the flavors and it becomes sweeter over time. If carboy is not full, top-up within two inches of the top of carboy opening with some of the spare gallon of wine. Replace bung and airlock and allow the wine to sit quietly for another week.
Step 6: If the wine is completely clear:
Filter if desired
Bottle in clear bottles (because it’s beautiful)
Note: Never bottle cloudy wine! NEVER!
Enjoy! This wine is great right from the start! It will, however, improve over time in the bottle.
The first few weeks brings a noticeable improvement as the flavors blend and meld, while months will make it smooth and delightful. Be warned, though, it will go quickly. So, get some more going, fast!
SO MANY VARIATIONS!
Any kind of fruit you can imagine may be substituted for the triple berries in the above recipe.
Use the exact same procedure, just use different fruit in the bag. I personally have made blueberry, blackberry, strawberry, raspberry, and a delightful tropical blend using pineapple/mango/peach/strawberry. Other winemakers have had success with a quad-berry blend (blueberry/blackberry/raspberry/strawberry), a tropical blend using pineapple juice instead of lemon, and even cherry-lime (with lime juice). Fruit purees and fruit wine bases abound on the market. Try oak and/or raisins in the primary or secondary. The list of possibilities is endless.
Use your imagination. Pick your favorite fruit, and make a Dragon Blood version of your own.
Try raisins, spices, oak, or extracts. Give it a catchy name, and make this recipe yours!