Homemade Wine Varieties

People have asked me in the comments section and in personal correspondence what kind of wine we’ve been making.

At the moment, we’ve got three varieties in the works: raisin (3 batches), prune (2 batches), and grape juice concentrate (3 batches).

wine cellar

Workin' away in the wine "cellar" upstairs (Photo: Mark Zeiger).

The raisin wine has been the most successful so far, based on our surprise “raisin riesling.” We have only tasted one other batch, just a quick sample during the racking process, but it seems to be good. That gives us hope for all the others. Some we may drink young, as we did with the first “secondary” batch; the rest we’ll try to bottle and age. I’m not sure when that might happen, as the original raisin batch is still bubbling along quite strongly at present.

Prune wine has been highly recommended from several sources. I should say, we actually like prunes, which a lot of people don’t. My brother, David, has been making it lately, and says it tastes like port, which we’re both very fond of. He also warns that it seems to have a lot higher alcohol content than other homemade wines (neither of us are using hydrometers at this point) so I backed off the amount of sugar he uses, to see if I can’t tone it down a bit. I haven’t tasted any, but the color is far too pale for a good port, and since appearance has a lot to do with perception, I’m trying not to get my hopes up. It smells good, at least. We’ll see how it tastes.

The grape juice concentrate is literally grape juice, not a grape wine concentrate as can be had from winemaking suppliers. The recipe I have makes a very dry wine, and the instructions include “sweeten to taste.” The first batch was too sour at racking, so I’ve increased the sugar called for, and used that amount in the subsequent batches. I had trouble racking the first one, and ended up with about half a quart of very young wine besides the half gallon I got into the secondary fermenter. It tasted like grape juice, with a hint of carbonation and a good deal more than a hint of yeast. It doesn’t seem promising, but as a “red” wine, it should technically age for a year or more before its true qualities will be revealed. Time will tell whether it lasts that long. Thankfully, we believe in the concept of table wine. We’re just shooting for that, rather than fine wine.

We’re likely to stick with these three varieties until the growing season allows us to expand into cottage wines like rhubarb and  wild berry. I’m also thinking of trying spruce wine, hopefully creating a beverage similar to the spruce honey we make. That would be excellent. A failure in that attempt would likely not be so excellent.

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4 Responses to Homemade Wine Varieties

  1. Dave Zeiger says:

    Thinking of the possibility of spruce wine failure, remember the old Tenakee motto, “Taste isn’t everything!” 8)

    Anke and I like prunes, but we prefer to call it PLUM Wine. Dunno. Just sounds better. Spanish Plumk?

  2. Dave Zeiger says:

    BTW, we’re sipping at some apricot wine that came out great… very strong and not at all clear. But tasty!

  3. Mark Zeiger says:

    Hi Dave,

    A bad batch of spruce wine might override the great Tenakee motto! I’m imagining something sweet and citrusy, like spruce honey, but fearing something more along the bouquet of turpentine. “Hmmmmm . . . Repulsive, painful, with a hint of auto shop and a paint pot top note!”

    I don’t know what to do about calling a prune a prune. I know that we were taught that prunes are to plums as raisins are to grapes, but we often hear talk of prune trees. Maybe it’s intent–I don’t think the Wilsons ever referred to their raisin ranch as a grape arbor?

  4. Mark Zeiger says:

    Cloudy indicates roughage. I’m thinking “health drink.”

    “Wine–it’s not just for breakfast anymore!”

    Wish we could be there to taste it!

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