Preserving the summer is one of the main reasons that most of us garden right? I know it is for me. With nearly 6 months of winter, holding onto those summer flavours is what gets me through. Strawberry wine is honestly super simple, but it’s a long game. You start making this wine when strawberries are at their height in the summer (for Ontario, that’s the beginning of July). But the wine won’t be at its best until nearly a year later. I promise you it’s worth it!
If you haven’t checked out my post about Basic Wine Making Tools and Equipment, you should pop over and do so. I go through everything you would need to get into the hobby. If you are already a seasoned wine making hobbiest, read on!
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Fruit wine, but not Grapes.
Fruit wines like this one were the first time that I had made a wine that didn’t use a kit. So if you aren’t into using the kits, than fruit wines are a great place to start.
Fruit wine might sound like a bit of an odd term, because grapes are fruit. But grape wine doesn’t fall into this category. Rather, it means you’re making wine from any fruit that isn’t grapes. You can use stone fruits, berries, and combinations of fruits. You can also make floral wine, from lilacs and dandelions!
When I started this wine, we didn’t have enough of a strawberry harvest of our own to make the whole thing with our berries. So the rest were supplemented from a local berry farmer. Because fresh berries are delicious no matter where we get them though!
This recipe takes about a week to get started, then about 6 months in its secondary fermentation and approximately another 6 months to bottle age. It comes out sweet, but still light with a touch of dryness due to the addition of tea. The colour is beautiful and golden with hints of pink. And it makes a superb spritzer.
5 L Boiling Water
2.5 L Cold Water
1 Sachet EC-1118 Lalvin Champagne Yeast
2 tsp Yeast Nutrient
2 tsp Pectic Enzyme
175ml Strong Black Tea
1 Crushed Camden Tablet
Primary Fermenting Bucket
long handled spoon for stirring
~30 750ml wine bottles with corks
In a large sanitized bucket (this doesn’t need to be your primary fermentation bucket) mash the strawberries and the sugar together. Really get in there with clean hand or a sanitized potato masher and crush them really good. Pour over the boiling water, stir. Cover and allow to sit for 24 hours.
The berries will have released a lot of liquid. Strain the liquid into your sanitized primary fermenting bucket through a fine sieve. Leave the pulp in the original bucket and pour over the cold water. Let the pulp sit for another hour. Strain the pulp through cheese cloth into the primary fermenting bucket. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
Take a hydrometer reading and record it for later. You will use this number later on to determine alcohol content.
Add in Pectic enzyme, Yeast nutrient, Strong tea. Stir to combine. Sprinkle the yeast on top and allow it 5 minutes to rehydrate. Stir well for about 5 minutes in an up and down circular motion to evenly distribute the ingredients. Cover with a lid. Attach bung and airlock. Active fermentation should be visible in the airlock after a few days.
After roughly a week you should see less active bubbling in the airlock. The liquid will have a white foam on the top. Using an auto-siphon, and trying to avoid the foam at the top and sediment at the bottom, rack the wine into a sanitized carboy. Add your crushed camden tablet, and stir vigorously for 5 minutes. Camden will help to slow the fermentation, and prevent unwanted yeast from growing. Bung and airlock the carboy, leave in a cool dark place.
Around this time, fermentation bubbles will have almost entirely stopped or will be very slow. You will want to start getting the wine clear. Rack it again off the newly formed sediment into a nice clean carboy.
At this point you should have much clearer wine with almost no bubbling. Check the Specific Gravity, and add it to your records. When the gravity reaches around 0.990 you can go ahead and bottle it. Cork the bottles and leave them standing upright for 24 hours to settle, then store on their side, for roughly another 6 months.
Every month or so it’s a good idea to open a bottle as a test. Especially if it’s your first year making fruit wines, it is fun to see how the flavours change and mellow. Make notes about the differences.
At the 1 year mark the wine should be at its best. Just in time to enjoy in some summery cocktails, or to sip while you start the next years batch!