Archive | September, 2011

Pluot wine

26 Sep

Ever heard of a pluot? Neither had I until I saw a plum-like fruit marketed towards children as “Dino Eggs” due to their size and their speckled, reptile-egg like colouring.  When I researched it I discovered it was a hybrid developed in the 1980s from plums and apricots (around 80% plum and 20% apricot) and that there are several varieties of pluots available. The local store was selling a variety with a name I loved, “Flavour Grenade”.  Since it is closest to plum, I used a plum recipe:

5lbs pluots

Sugar to SG 1.100 (Around 3C-ish)

1 1/2 tsp acid blend

1 tsp pectic enzyme

1/4 tsp yeast energizer

1/8 tsp grape tannin

1 Campden tablet, crushed

Lalvin 71B-1112 yeast (You could use Lalvin K1-V1116 if you wanted)

water to 4 l

Bentonite (around 2 tbsp)

I juiced the pluots with the Champion juicer. If you don’t have the best home juicer available, don’t despair: you can merely chop the fruit (removing the pits) and place them in the primary. Pour 1 kettle of boiling water over them. Add sugar, stir until dissolved and let sit until cool.

Once the pluots were juiced, I added the sugar and everything else but the yeast. Let stand 24 hrs to let the Campden tablet do its magic. Pitch yeast when the temperature is within range.

Cover, stir, and ferment to desired SG (in this case 0.990)

Racked into carboy. Bentonite added.

Nov. 3/11. Racked and clearing wonderfully.


Bentonite is your friend!

20 Sep

Fining is the process in which you try to remove as much sediment as possible from the wine. This not only gives it a better flavour, but also it gives the wine clarity. Bentonite is the one of the most useful things I know about in wine making.  According to Wikipedia, this is how the process works:

In winemaking, fining is the process where a substance (fining agent) is added to the wine to create an adsorbent, enzymatic or ionic bond with the suspended particles, making them a larger molecule that can precipitate out of the wine easier and quicker. Unlike filtration, which can only remove particulates (such as dead yeast cells and grape fragments), fining is effective in removing soluble substances such as polymerized tannins, coloring phenols and proteins.

Everybody got that? So with red wines, the most common finings are Kiesolsol and chitosan. With whites or rose wines, bentonite is more common.

Canadian Clay Products Ltd has this to say:  Bentonite is a clay mineral which is largely composed of Montmorillonite, which is mainly a hydrous aluminum silicate. It is a highly colloidal and plastic clay with the unique characteristic of swelling to several times its original volume when placed in water. If you want all the sordid details, you can visit their site here:

Since I have been adding bentonite to my wines, they have clarified at the speed of light. I cannot recommend bentonite enough!

Blue Plum Wine

10 Sep

While searching for apples in the lot next to Rosie and Bill’s I happened upon a blue plum tree, or as they are called in my local store, prune plums. I picked around 4 lbs and went back with Rosie to pick more. I brought them home to make wine with them.

4lbs blue plums

Sugar to SG 1.100

1 1/2 tsp acid blend

1 tsp pectic enzyme

3/4 tsp yeast nutrient

1/8 tsp tannin

1 Campden tablet

Lalvin 71B-1122 yeast (You could use K1-V1116 yeast)

Juice the plums. If you don’t have a home juicer, chop the plums, put them in the primary and then pour a kettle of boiling water over them. This is a great time to add sugar as it will dissolve much easier in boiling water than in cold water. Leave until cool.

Then, add everything but the yeast. Leave 24 hours and pitch the yeast.

I racked this wine around 5 days after starting  it, on the 15th of September. Racking as needed but don’t rack too much or your wine will lose flavour.

Racked Nov. 3/11. Clearing, lovely plummy smell.

Oregon Grape wine

7 Sep

On a recent trip to the Interior I was given around 4 pounds of Oregon grapes (Thank you again Rosie!!).  This is the recipe that I adapted from Jack Keller’s wine recipes site, link here to make 4l of wine:

4lbs Oregon grapes

4C sugar (to SG 1.090)

1/2 tsp acid blend (do not add more, Oregon grapes are high in acid)

3/4 tsp yeast energizer

1 tsp pectic enzyme

1 Campden tablet, crushed

Water to 4l

Montrachet yeast (or Lalvin 71B-1112, or even K1-V1116)

1. You will need to remove the seeds from the Oregon grapes or they could make the wine bitter. If you have a food mill, process that way. If, like me, you don’t, heat Oregon grapes in a large pot like you would if you were making jelly.  Strain juice; then squeeze remaining pulp through a jelly bag. This will get messy! Wear a dark colored shirt. 4lbs of Oregon grapes should give you close to 2l of juice. I added 3.5l of water to the juice in the primary because adding sugar will increase the liquid content and the less water you add to wines, the more flavourful they tend to be. I suggest you taste the juice as you add water to make sure it doesn’t get watery – the only thing you can do then is add more juice.

2. Add everything but yeast, and let stand 24hrs. After adding the 4C of sugar the SG was 1.090, up from 1.010 without any sugar.

I will use K1-V1116 because Oregon grapes remind me of blackberries (with which I use K1-V1116) and I think they will make a similar type of wine, but I’m sure the 71B-1112 would work great as well.

Watermelon Wine

6 Sep

I made this wine 2 years ago and was amazed by how much I liked it! Like watermelon, it is best served at room temperature when it is the most flavourful. Many people found this wine to be too weird, so there will be lots for me!

45 lbs watermelon (wait until the price comes down towards mid-end of August. I got 3 x 15lb melons.)

15C sugar

8 tsp acid blend

5 tsp yeast energizer

1/4-1/2 tsp tannin (I usually just eyeball it)

1 Campden tablet, crushed


ICV-D-47 yeast

I juiced the watermelon in a juicer, but if you don’t have a juicer you can use a fruit press, blender, or even crush it in the primary.  I got about 11-12 litres of juice from all 3 melons.

I then added some bentonite (to help it clear quickly; watermelon is a bit of a delicate wine in my experience*) and the rest of the ingredients.  I pitched the yeast on August 29th, 2011.

This is the pulp that remained from each watermelon! About the size of an uncooked hamburger patty (and a similar colour too.)

6 Sept. 2011 – Racked wine into carboy. Added:

1  tsp sulfites

2 tsp potassium sorbate

1 and 1/2 tbsp kieselsol

5 tbsp chitosan

Degassed wine! It’s very important to give it a good stirring to release some of the CO2 that remains in the wine from the fermentation process. Should be mostly clear in 2 weeks or so.

*I had to pour out last year’s batch because I didn’t pay enough attention to it and it became infused with sulfur dioxide gas and would not under any circumstance clear. Gavin at the wine making shop up the street said it was because I didn’t pay enough attention to it.

Saanich Fair Homemade Wine and Beer Competition 2011

6 Sep

I entered a banana wine, a chocolate mint herb wine, and a blackberry wine….I didn’t win this year, but I really really appreciated the feedback from the judges so I know what to change in my wines for next year. I have a lot of wines on the go so onward and upward! Maybe next year I will do better!