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Raspberry Wine, and Rolling With the Punches

Raspberry Wine, and Rolling With the Punches
“If you haven’t had that happen to you, you aren’t making enough wine.” Credit to my fellow Eltham Guild member Danny on that phrase. It certainly made me feel better on the night I cracked open a demijohn and sent 20L of delicious summer peach wine flooding over my kitchen. The problem homebrewers fear most, though, is ‘the pop’. Or if you’re really unlucky, ‘the bang’. The noise that says you have mucked up your bottling, or closed a container that wasn’t finished fermenting. Maybe you bottled too early, or added too much sugar, or didn’t use enough of whatever you were using to stop the fermentation from starting back up. Whatever you did…  you have bottle bombs. There’s wine all over your cupboard and possibly glass too. Turns out I was lazy and didn’t read the packet of sorbate: I’d also stored it poorly. Hence I didn’t realise it had expired. But I was relatively lucky. Five bottles of raspberry wine were stopped with corks, not crown caps, so there was no lethal force. And two popped at once (not five). What to do?
  • Clean up
  • Curse my bad decisions.
  • Add a bit of simple syrup to the wine to gloss over the ‘young wine’ tartness
  • Then call the neighbours over and get nicely drunk on rich, fizzy, sweet raspberry wine that tastes every bit of a glorious summer day. Stuff the few remaining bottles in the coldest part of the fridge, and drink them soon.
And the next day!
  • Immediately scour the freezer for any of the berries still remaining, and set on another batch. Or two. And make plans for the next season, so that you’re never out of this glorious stuff ever again.
Yeah, it turns out this really wasn’t a disaster, which brings to mind Charlie Papazian’s words “Relax, don’t worry, have a homebrew”. It’s so tempting to shoot for perfection, and lose sight of the fact that most booze is pretty good booze (the neighbours never seem to complain about free booze) and you can always tinker. This wine is heady with straight up summer raspberry flavour. It’s the fruity, sweet, sun-filled stuff that alcopos would like to be and aren’t. It’s one of the best wines I’ve ever made and I’m definitely adding it to the rotation every year. Cheers! Raspberry Wine (adapted from Terry Garey‘s recipe, scaled to make a 5L batch) Day 1: To a sanitised bucket of around 10l capacity, add:
  • 240g of the best raspberries you can get, frozen to break down the cell walls and sealed in a brew bag
  • 4.7L water
  • 1.35 kg sugar
  • 3/4 tspn acid blend – I made my own*
  • Potassum metabisulphate at the rate recommended on the packet, or use 1 1/2 campden tablets
  • 1/8 tspn tannin powder. I used ‘Tannenol Fruitan’ since it has a very nice berry quality to it.
12 hours later: Add pectic enzyme at the rate recommended on the packet 12 hours after adding the enzyme: Pitch 1.5 tspn of a suitable wine yeast, and 1.5 tspn yeast nutrient. I used Lalvin 71B.
On the top shelf, two batches of raspberry wine clearing in 5L and 750ml bottles.
Ferment within the temperature range recommended for your yeast, stirring twice daily, until the fermentation fizz begins to slow down. Then, with sanitised gloves (I tend to just clean my hands well and spray them with sanitiser), remove the bag and squeeze to get all the juice. Re-cover your bucket and let it ferment for about another day, to allow most of the fruit sediment to fall to the bottom. Rack into one 5L jug and one 750ml bottle.  Stop both up with airlocks, and wait until they have begun to clear. Rack into another 5L jug (or into a bucket and then back into the cleaned original jug), stop up with a clean airlock, allow to clear completely and bottle. This recipe clears very quickly. If you sweeten it at bottling, make sure to check the packet of sorbate. It goes off. Who knew! *As of 2020 I’ve decided to omit the acid blend. I’ve now made over ten batches, and unless the raspberries are unusually sweet the acid in them is quite enough.

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