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Wine-makers calendar - September

(in progress)

Depending on where you are in the country, September can either be the start of 'winding down' from the most frantic brewing period of the year, or it can be the big month for getting fruit brews going! For me, its a time for trailing off, putting on the last few batches of fruit wines, and the time to start thinking about meads, and for some of the winter vegetable wines to come.

September is perhaps the best month for apples, although of course the apple season starts earlier (discovery and beauty of Bath make good wines, and they appear in August) and goes on way later, but get out and forage now and you'll see hedgerows groaning with apples.

So, to begin with a selection of apple wine recipes

Basic Apple Wine
6 lb apples, mixed varieties
1lb raisins
2 1/2 lb sugar
1 lemon
1 tsp pectinase
1 gallon water
1 teastpoon yeast nutrient
yeast and nutrient

Chop the apples and raisins into small pieces and bring to simmer in 1 gallon water. Add the sugar, juice of the lemon and yeast nutrient and boil for about 20 minutes. Pour into a sterilised bucket and cover tightly. When cool, add pectinase and activated yeast, and give it a good mix. Cover again, and let the fermentation commence!

Give it about two or three days in primary, then rack off into secondary. Should ferment out fast and be ready to bottle in 6 months or so.

Now, if your apples are really sweet you'll get a full bodied, sweet wine, if they're really dry the wine will be more crisp. Don't worry about getting too much or too little sugar in, use extra or even less apples if you choose, the wine will be fine.

Simple Cyser (apple mead)

Replace the sugar in the above recipe with honey (use 3lb of honey in place of 2 1/2 lb of sugar). A cyser is a simple and easy way of getting in to making fruit meads. Very much worth trying. As you boil the mix, remove any scum that floats to the top.

Apple and Mint Wine

Add four cups of loosely packed mint leaves to the apple wine recipe above, and you have brew that is quite potently minty. Spearmint works well, watermint works better.

Apple Metheglin

Make as for the simple cyser above, but add in to the first boil a spice bag containing a cinnamon stick, an inch of brused ginger, loads of allspice berries, some cloves, a scraping of nutmeg, and some mace. Leave that in the bucket too for an hour or two, take it out when the mixture has cooled.

Sloe Wine

3lb sloes
1/2 lb raisins, or 1 small tin of grape concentrate
3lb sugar
1 teaspoon yeast nutrient
1 teaspoon pectinase
1 gallon water
Red wine yeast

Boil the sugar and yeast nutrient with the water, put the sloes and raisins into a straining bag, and put the bag in a sterile bucket. Pour on the boiling water, cover tightly, and when cool add the activated yeast and pectinase. Give it a good week in primary, then rack off, ferment out and mature as normal.

Sugar beet wine
4lb sugar beet
2 1/2 lb sugar.
1. gallon water.
1 lemon.
1/2 lb raisins
Yeast nutrient
All purpose wine yeast

I was given this recipe by an old timer a while ago, and for the first time I've grown sugar beet this year and I plan to make this recipe. If you haven't grown it then September is when most sugar beet is harvested, you shouldn't have any trouble blagging a few pounds of it if you live in a beet producing area.

Wash and scrub the beets, and cut them up. Put them in the pan with water, sugar, and yeast nutrient and boil for 20 minutes or so. Pour through a nylon bag into a sterile bucket, so you catch the beets in it, and add the raisins to the bag. Careful now, that waters hot. Add the enzyme and activated yeast when its cool, and allow a week or so in primary before racking into a demijon.

Sweeeeeet Damson wine
7lb damsons
5lb sugar
1 gallon water
1 teaspoon yeast nutrient
1 teaspoon pectinase
Hich alcohol or champagne yeast

This is a very sweet damson dessert wine. Gorgeous stuff, but beware, its lethally strong and very sweet

Pack the damsons into a straining bag, and put it into a sterile bucket. Boil the water, sugar and yeast nutrient, pour it on, and let it cool (covered). Add the pectinase and activated yeast; really does need to be something tolerant of high alcohol and sugar.

It needs a good week in primary, and get all the gooey stuff squeezed out of the damsons. Rack as normal, and be patient. Seems to ferment out fast, but really let it finish or it'll go again in the bottles. Ferment out and bottle as norma, and its ready to drink even when very young in the bottle.

Cabs Famous Elderberry and Blackberry Wine

4lb fruit (made up of elderberries, blackberries, and any stray blackcurrants from the freezer)
2 1/2 lb sugar
1 teaspoon yeast nutrient
1 teaspoon pectinase
1 teaspoon citric acid
1 gallon water
red wine yeast

Don't get me wrong, elderberries are great, but elderberry wine is better cut with a few blackberries too. But really, whether its 4lb of blackberries or elderberries or a mix of the two even with a few black currants it'll be fine.

Put the fruit in a straining bag in a sterile bucket, boil the water, sugar, citric acid, and yeast nutrient and pour on to the fruit. Cover, let it cool, add pectinase and activated yeast. Give it a week in primary, ferment out as normal in a demijohn.

Is it too early for chequers?

Up here in Scotland, September is the beginning of peak wine-making season, with everything starting to ripen, even in a year like 2007 when fruit is supposed to be earlier. The hedgerows are heavy with rosehips, hawthorn berries, and the first of the brambles; elderberries should be ready before the end of the month (though mine are still green); sloes are just starting to change colour; and the main stone fruit harvest will come soon : plums and damsons. Plenty of rowans still to be had in the hills at the beginning of this month; the odd bilberry and handful of wild rasps. Crab apples do seem to be early, in some places at least, some falling already, others ready about mid-month.

I'll be spending most of September out and about foraging, with a view to making at least some of the following wines, either in real-time, or later, from the freezer.

Plum Wine

Damson Wine

Crab Apple wine (light)

Rowan Wine
Rowan Sherry-weight wine

Rosehip Wine

Elderberry wine

Will fill in as I get time

tahir wrote:
Is it too early for chequers?

As in service berries?

Do we need much more for this if Gil's bit is added in? It would be nice to publish it while it's still September. (Aimed at me 'cos I forgot to do August's.)

There is the Harvest Moonshine recipe that I posted the other day - Mine is bubbling along nicely

Thanks Jo. I'll give it another couple of days anyway but we'll add it in.

cab wrote:
tahir wrote:
Is it too early for chequers?

As in service berries?


sean wrote:
Do we need much more for this if Gil's bit is added in? It would be nice to publish it while it's still September. (Aimed at me 'cos I forgot to do August's.)

Yes, I've got more to add too.
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