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Smoky Blackberry Wine

5 Feb

A friend of mine told me about a blackberry wine she had tried at a local winery that had a smoky taste to it. The winery claimed that there had been a bush fire near where the blackberries were growing and the blackberries had retained some of the smoke. I put my blackberries in the smoker with cherrywood chips for 45 minutes. This recipe makes two gallons.

10lbs blackberries, frozen
2 campden tablets, crushed
1 tsp pectic enzyme
1 tsp acid blend
1 tsp yeast energizer, sugar to SG 1.090

water to 10 litres
K1-V1116 yeast

Add ingredients except yeast into primary and let sit overnight.
Then add the yeast.

I’ve decided to add bentonite when I first rack the wine into a carboy. The blackberries have a sweetish smoky smell that is a little bit mouthwatering. I think this will turn out well.



Blackberry Wine

12 Dec

I started my blackberry wine on November 30, 2011.


18 lbs blackberries, frozen (this helps to break down the blackberry for fermentation. )

1 lb raisins

2 campden tablets

1 tbsp pectic enzyme

1 tbsp acid blend

sugar to 1.10 SG

KV1-1116 yeast

water to 4 gallons


Thaw the blackberries overnight in the primary, in water. Add campden tablet. The next day, add everything else. I stopped fermentation at SG 1.010 to retain some sweetness and aroma.

First racking done December 11, 2011 into 4 gallon secondary.

The Brew Cabinet

3 Nov

It’s important to be sure that your brew cabinet will support all your carboys or this could happen:



The new structure is better because the space is utilized more effeciently:


Clearing wine

3 Nov

This is the most challenging part of making wine for me. Why won’t the wines clear all the way? They seem to just stop about here.  Aside from bentonite I am at a bit of a loss. Will time clear this wine?


Pomegranate Wine

16 Oct

My friend Carolyn suggested I make pomegranate wine around a year and a half ago. Finally I came across some ingredients I could a) afford and b) process fairly easily. I had imagined hours leading into days picking out the seeds from pomegranates costing $4 each so I was happy to come across some pomegranate juice. It is from concentrate, so any purists reading look away now.  This is my recipe:

4l pomegranate juice from concentrate

Sultana raisins (I added around 325-350 g), chopped

Sugar to SG 1.090 (I added 1C sugar)

1 1/2 tsp acid blend

1/8 tsp tannin

1 tsp yeast energizer

Lalvin K1-v1116 yeast

So, it took about 3 minutes to get this together. I emptied the juice into a primary. I added the sugar to the desired SG. I then added everything but the yeast, which I will add tomorrow. I plan to keep an eye on this and stop fermentation at around 1.020. If it is still watery then I will add more sugar. The wine needs legs and a nose, after all.

Oct.24/11. Racked into carboy. SG 1.010.

Fermenting to dryness

16 Oct

Most of the non-grape wine recipes I find suggest that one ferments to dryness and then add sweetener to the desired level of sweetness. I’m wondering if this is the best thing to do.

In May I made a strawberry wine that I bottled in August. For whatever reason, I didn’t take an S.G. reading at the time and just racked it into a carboy. In August the wine was clear and ready to bottle (thank you bentonite!) the aroma of strawberries swirled into your nose like a perfume. I wondered why when all my other wines tend to have a “boozy” smell to them instead of this fruity goodness smell. I checked the SG and it was at 1.020. Somewhere I read for dessert wines that this is where someone should stop fermentation. Now I am wondering about fermenting to dryness anyways because most homemade wines are blunt on the tongue if no sweetener is added. The next few wines I make I am going to stop the fermentation at either 1.010 or at 1.020 SG to see if the aroma of the fruit will remain.

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!