Learning how to make potato wine is exciting. Its simple fermentation process is similar to the one that produces great Burgundy and lowly pruno. The yeast does the work. It’s illegal but possible to distill potato wine into the famous Irish beverage called poteen.
Two basic methods produce potato wine, or three if poteen and similar beverages are counted as wine. One approach uses actual potato bits as the basis of the wine. The other uses potato water to condition and flavor wine that depends upon other materials for flavor.
Supplies and equipment are available at winemaking stores and online. Assemble all equipment and supplies in advance. Airlock, siphon, yeast, pectic enzyme, and perhaps Campden tablets are useful, as well as wine bottles and a way to seal them. Plastic bottles similar to watercooler bottles are handy for large quantities of wine, but for smaller amounts go with what you already have. Winemaking can be messy, so protect your work surface or work in a garage or shed.
Potato water wine
This wine is flavored with ginger and citrus. The recipe is modified from one on the informative jackkellerwinemaking website. The pectic enzyme breaks down plant materials that cause haze, the yeast ferments the wine, and the stabilizer stops fermentation.
5 lbs. potatoes
3 lbs. dark brown sugar
4 lemons, zested and juiced
2 oranges, zested and juiced
½ teaspoon pectic enzyme
½ oz. fresh ginger, thinly sliced
Wine stabilizer or Campden tablets
Do not use potatoes with a greenish tinge or sprouts, because they contain a mild poison that may taint your wine. Use sound potatoes with no bad spots. Do not peel, but scrub and boil the potatoes in a gallon of water for 20 minutes. Strain the water, reserving potatoes for another use.
Add two pounds of sugar to the water, along with the citrus zest and juice. When you zest the lemons and oranges, try to get as little of the white pith as possible, because it may be bitter. Add the ginger. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then simmer about 15 minutes, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
Remove and strain into a sterile container, and cover with sterile cloth. Cool to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and add the enzyme. Cover with cloth, and let rest overnight. Activate wine yeast according to package directions and add. Ferment for seven days, stirring each day.
Stir in remaining sugar, and let settle over night. Siphon into a new sterile container leaving sediment behind, affix airlock, and let ferment for 60 days.
Rack, and affix airlock again. After it settles, rack again, and reattach the airlock. After four months, stabilize with Campden tablets or wine conditioner, and rack into bottles.
Simple potato wine
This recipe, modified slightly from one at insightful indepthinfo.com, incorporates more potato essence in the mix.
3 pounds potatoes
4 pounds sugar
4 ounces chopped light raisins
1 tablespoon wine yeast
Scrub sound healthy potatoes and grate into a pot. Add 3 quarts water. Bring to a boil and then simmer, skimming off the protein scum that rises. The scum is harmless, but may spoil the clarity of the wine. Simmer and skim until the surface is clear.
Put the raisins and sugar into a large container with a lid. Strain the potato mixture onto it. Juice the oranges and lemons and add with enough water to make a gallon of liquid all together.
Let the mixture sit covered for about a week, with the cover slightly askew so there is just a slit for gases to escape. Then siphon the liquid into a container with an airlock.
After ten days, rack it into another sterile container, leaving the sediment behind, and airlock. Let it sit in the jug about six months. Bottle it, seal, and wait another six months to drink.
If wine continues to ferment in the bottles, you may hear pops from the basement as trapped gases escape from formerly sealed bottles. In fact, you may hear small explosions.
In the first recipe, a stabilizer stops fermentation to avoid this problem. In the second, the yeast should die as the alcohol it produces reaches a high enough concentration to kill it. One of the winemaker’s goals is to balance the sugar that feeds the yeast with the alcohol that kills it.
Potatoes make acceptable wine, as do persimmons, elderberries, carrots, and many other foodstuffs. Home winemaking is challenging and fun, and often produces a remarkable product.