Making Blackberry Wine
Every September I pick as many blackberries as I can, put them in ziplock baggies, and throw them in the freezer for a rainy day. This winter, rainy days were not as prevalent than in the past, so it wasn’t until last month that I got around to processing them. I am presently brewing my third, annual batch of blackberry wine. The batches brewed in previous years have followed the same recipe and turned out great.
Last fall I picked approximately 35 pounds of blackberries. Combined with some ageing blackberry syrup that Ken had, we were able to turn them into 12 gallons of wine. Since we got our primary ingredient (blackberries) for free, all we had to purchase was the sugar and a handful of chemicals. The cost of the wine turned out to be approximately $1.50 per gallon. Of course, that doesn’t include the cost of bottles either, as we recycled empty wine bottles throughout the year.All the brewing ingredients as well as the recipe book where I got the recipe below can be sourced from NW Brewery Supply. I love this company. They are locally owned and ran by a handful of people who are incredibly passionate about brewing and helping other people brew. They are always willing to discuss brewing and answer questions. If you decide to follow the recipe below, I encourage you to buy your materials from this awesome, local company.
This recipe is for one gallon of wine. Multiply the ingredients by the number of gallons you want to make to determine the proper quantity. The exception to this rule is the yeast. One package is enough to do five gallons.
- 4 lb Blackberries
- 7 pts water
- 2.25 lb sugar
- 1/2 tsp Acid Blend
- 1/2 tsp Pectic Enzyme
- 1 tsp Nutrient (diammonium phosphate)
- 1 campden, crushed
- 1 pkg wine yeast
Note: Starting specific gravity is called out as 1.090-95. However, I usually add enough sugar until the specific gravity indicates a potential alcohol of 12.5%.
Mash berries in the straining bag. Add water, sugar, and ingredients. Leave the bag in the primary fermentor until it’s time to move the liquid to the secondary container. When fermentation reaches 1.030, strain juice from the bag and siphon wine into the secondary. I usually siphon the wine through the bag to catch any extra particles that leaked out during the initial straining.
According to the book: For earlier consumption or slightly sweetened wine, at bottling, add 1/2 tsp of stabilizer then stir in 1/4 lb dissolved sugar per gallon. Note: I always do this.
Bartering and GiftsWhile this wine is quaffable after three months, I try to refrain from drinking it until it hits the six month mark. The extra time really mellows out the flavor. Of course, the longer you wait, the better the wine will taste. I have a two year old bottle that I plan to open at the time of first bottling so that I can compare the difference in flavor between the young vs aged wine.
In fact, the twelve gallons in this latest batch is split up among three secondary fermentation containers (referred to as ‘secondaries’). A trick I’ve picked up from other brewers is that you can leave the wine in the secondaries as long as you want. The only thing you have to be careful of is to keep water in the one-way valve on the secondary. If it dries out, air can get to the wine and will turn it into vinegar. I plan to only bottle one secondary at a time, and leave the others on the shelf to continue mellowing out. Once the first round has been drank, I’ll use the empty bottles to bottle the wine in the next secondary.
As I mentioned, wine always makes a great (and an inexpensive) gift. It is also great to barter with. My brother is a very successful hunter and I regularly trade him wine for elk steak. I’ve also traded wine to fisherman for halibut and salmon. This summer I plan to make much more use of the local farmer’s market and my preferred method of payment will be wine.