About ten days ago we began a crash course in wine making. When we planted our berry patch last year, we included elderberries with the intent of doing elderberry wine. Suddenly, we realized that the elderberries were ready and if we didn’t act fast, the birds would wreak havoc. We ran down to our local old time feed shop/brew supply and got a quick crash course on starting the fermentation process.
We plowed through the information, bought the different components that we needed and began our primary fermentation. Last night, we went to strain the fruit, and transfer the already wine like liquid to its secondary fermenting container. Since we began with only a small amount, approximately 1 gallon, we decided to pour through a funnel, rather than siphon the wine-in-process, once we had strained out the poached fruits. Everything was going swimmingly, until the darned bowl just would not cooperate, and about half of our first batch ended up down the drain. So now instead of 5 bottles worth of fermenting juice, we have only two and a half. Ah well, yet another lesson learned…siphon even small amounts to avoid
Never fear, we have been collecting loads of the still ripening fruit and will be putting down our second and much larger batch this weekend. On the bright side, B tasted the batch and was pleasantly surprised by the flavor and complexity already developing!
What have we learned so far?? When dealing with fruits like rhubarb and berries freeze them first, then as they thaw they are already squishier and the juice flows out more freely. Be sure to kill off the natural pectin’s that are there (they may or may not be of benefit in the finished product and you don’t want to risk the outcome of all your hard work in the end) and then add back a wine grade pectin. Make sure everything is spotlessly clean using a special detergent. There are many kinds of yeast, each one works best at a different temperature and will help to provide different alcohol contents, so educate yourself. Finally, do not let small setbacks frustrate you; it is all a grand, and hopefully tasty, chemistry experiment. What is next on taps? More wine adventures, and mead...oh I wish I had some of Julie's honey!