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Plum wine?

We have a real glut of plums on our trees this year. Last night we made spicey plum chutney and the next thing on the list is some plum wine.

We'll be using the recipe from 'First Steps to Winemaking' by CJJ Berry.

There's very little to the recipe, its very simple indeed but the wine is described as being 'sweet'and we're not really sweet wine drinkers.

Here's the list of ingredients.

6lb of plums
A gallon of water.
3 and a half pounds of sugar.
Yeast and nutrient
Pectic enzyme

Is there anyway of making a drier wine out of plums, or are we stuck with sweet because of the plums?

I'm no wine maker Bodger but you well know the fermenting process is basically yeast converting sugar to alcohol and Co2.  The yeast will keep working whilst conditions are right and there's sugar to convert, until the sugar has gone or what usually happens is that the alcohol content kills the yeast off.  Maybe you could get a yeast with a higher attenuation that will keep going another point or two up the ABV scale but leave yoyu with a drier wine

Might be worth a call to a local Home Brew Shop.

in the begining of that book he gives a conversion table for adjusting how dry or sweet a wine will be depending on how much sugar you put in. I've found that when I adjust my wines to that (tho I am not dead accurate about my measurements, I'm a "that looks about right" kinda maker) they come out as you want them.

I wouldn't use more than 2.5lb sugar and add 0.5lb of chopped raisins if they are dark plums or sustitute sultanas if they are yellow ones.

We have some raisins left over from last nights chutney making. What do they add to the brew?

I made a very dry and extremely palatable hedgrow picked Mirabelle plum wine last year.

But for my brews I don't mess about with bought yeast, nutrients, enzymes, fermentation stoppers, or fining's etc. Nature and time are my home-brewing allies and partners, and I let them do all the work for me.

If you can pick the fruit yourself, you are almost guaranteed to capture the wild yeast already on the fruits. In my case I only needed 3 Mirabelle plums picked by the stalk and untouched by my hands, and I see absolutely no reason why this method will not work for a dry Victoria or other variety of Plum wine. The rest of my hedgerow picked Mirabelle plums were washed, stoned, chopped up and simmered in the sugar water solution for about 30 minutes, which was then transferred hot into a Demi-john and an airlock installed.

The 3 untouched by human hands and unwashed Mirabelle plums were placed in a jar that had been half filled with sugar solution.The top was left off the jar for 3 days and each day 1/2 a teaspoon of sugar and a little more previously boiled and then cooled water was added. On the fourth day the jar was sealed with it's lid, and left for another 3 days. On the seventh day these 3 Mirabelle plums were removed from the jar using a spoon, the remaining liquid was then added to the main Mirabelle plum, and sugar water solution, and the air lock reinstalled. After a few days days the tiny fermentation bubbles were spotted, and the demi-john was left only for  several months to ferment. The only important thing to remember is to ensure that the air-lock does not dry out and that there is sufficient water in it to provide the air tight seal needed to isolate it from the rest of the world.

In my experience dry wines are only achieved with patience; allow time for all the sugar to turn to alcohol. I currently have 2 litres of Ginger wine on the go that was started back in early January using a little of my Ginger beer starter and it is still fermenting now; 7 months on. We had a little sample of this brew last weekend and the taste is superbly dry, and it will be even better when it has fermented out completely, which could be up to another 3 months or even longer.

bodger wrote:
We have some raisins left over from last nights chutney making. What do they add to the brew?

Plum wine can be a bit "thin" tasting the dried fruit will add body and improve the taste and help fermentation. Some people add 1lb of wheat to plum wine for a similar reason but I think dried fruit is better. If you ferment it out with 2.5lb of sugar and the natural sugars from the fruit and raisins it should be right if you like dry wine[taste it when fermentation's just about finished]---it's always easier to add more sugar and/or ferment on than save a too sweet wine. I prefer to use a proper wine yeast--you can get some cracking wines usung natural yeasts but you can also get real problems especially because they are often not as robust as wine yeasts and can be stopped working by the rising alcohol level before it is high enough, and sometimes they are just not very "nice" yeasts. However it's personal choice--trial and error is the way to go--once you've made a few gallon you'll know what amount of sugar,methods etc suits you.

Re: Plum wine?

bodger wrote:
Is there anyway of making a drier wine out of plums, or are we stuck with sweet because of the plums?

Use a hydrometer to adjust the specific gravity then pick your yeast accordingly.  If you get in the habit of this you will know what your wine is going to taste like before you pitch the yeast.

A proper stoner !

Karen and I picked 6lb of these mini plums from the orchard this morning and then sat down with a few cups of tea and took the stones out.

We took Lotties advice and added some raisins.

The plum wine will soon be on the bubble.

Hope it turns out o.k. I've saved all the stones from the cherry plums I've discovered  and foraged over the last few weeks and I'm going to shove them in any gaps in the sloe trees and hawthorns round the field--if only a few take I'll be making gallons of cherry plum wine in a few years.

Tonight we strained the fruit and added the sugar and yeast.
The recipe says that we should have added 3.5 lbs of sugar but I have been reading up on this wine-making business and used a hydrometer for the first time to test the sugar content of the fruit to calculate how much sugar should be added to 'produce a wine of the desired strength'.
By my calculations I only needed to add 1 lb 10 oz of sugar which is slightly different from the instructions

Oh well - I can add sweetness at the end of the fermentation but I can't take it away so we'll see what happens
Rare one

how about this one

6 lbs plums
1-1/2 lbs fine granulated sugar
Water to one gallon
1-1/2 tsp acid blend
1 tsp pectic enzyme
3/4 tsp yeast nutrient
1/4 tsp yeast energizer
1/8 tsp grape tannin
wine yeast
Put water on to boil. Wash the fruit, cut in halves to remove the seeds, then chop fruit and put in primary. Pour boiling water over fruit. Add the sugar and stir well to dissolve. Cover and allow to cool to 70 degrees F. Add acid blend, pectic enzyme, tannin, nutrient, and energizer, cover, and wait 12 hours before adding yeast. Recover primary and allow to ferment 5-7 days, stirring twice daily. Strain, transfer to secondary, and fit airlock. Rack after 30 days, top up, refit airlock and repeat every 30 days until wine clears. Wait two additional weeks, rack again, stabilize wine, bottle. This wine can be sampled after only 6 months. If not up to expectations, let age another 6 months and taste again. I have aged plum wine up to four years and the result was exquisite, but that was only because the wine got covered with blankets and was forgotten. I suspect it was ready long before it took on its heavenly quality.

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