Making Blackberry Wine

Making Blackberry Wine

Beer and wine have been around for thousands of years. One need only attend Sunday school to hear the story of Jesus turning water into wine. In all likelihood this could be very close to the truth. Any grape eater will have, at some time or another, eaten some left over grapes, from the bottom of the bag, and afterwards felt a bit lightheaded, a bit drunk. Some human, several thousand years ago, being a hunter gatherer, had this same revelation eating the season ended half wilted grapes off a vine, and as a grape grower, took some juice and set it out for a few days, allowing free floating yeasts to settle in and convert the sugars to alcohol. Voila, wine was born.

Making your own wine should be as simple. One of the first things to remember and keep in consideration is cleanliness. Nothing will ruin a brew quicker than bacteria. And while no death causing pathogens can survive in alcohol, bacteria, on the other hand, is an entirely different matter. Bacteria can cause bitterness, cloudiness, and even a good old fashioned stomach ache. So by all means, keep it clean.

Start with good clean fruit. Make sure all blackberries are devoid of stems and leaves. Also visually inspect the fruit and cull any damaged, unripened, or moldy fruit. If you wouldn’t serve it to a dinner crowd don’t use it in your wine. Gather enough blackberries to equal approximately two and half to 3 quarts blackberries per gallon of wine to be made. Set aside 3 pounds of sugar and half of a lemon per gallon.

From you local home-brewing and wine shop, you will need 1 Campden tablet and  2 nutrient tablets per gallon. You will also need 1 pectin enzyme tablet and 1 packet of wine yeast per 5 gallons. In separate containers of a half cup of water dissolve Campden and nutrient tablets, as well as dissolving sugar with 3 pints of water. 

Press berries, add all ingredients, juicing the half lemon and adding water as needed to equal one and one eighth gallons of mixture to one gallon of wine. Bring mixture to simmer for 5 minutes and cool, covered, for 24 hours. 

Sprinkle on 1 packet of wine yeast per 5 gallons of must and ferment as regular wine, checking brix, specific gravity and temperature regularly. Remove seeds when Specific Gravity approaches 1.07

For a finished wine of between 11 and 14 percent alcohol, The must needs to be brought to a brix of between 20 and 24, and a specific gravity of between 1.080 and 1.100. First racking should be done as soon as fermentation is complete, and and then again after the sediment has dropped. Always keep in mind that air is the enemy, and should be protected against at all costs, unless of course you are wanting to make a wine vinegar. 

In the absence of berries, or in a pinch, any store bought frozen berries will work. It should also be noted that unique flavors can be mixed by using not only different cultivars, but different berries as well. The addition of other fruit can further blend flavors into rich exotic tastes.  Blackberry / Raspberry / Pomegranate anyone?