Though majority of the wine recipes available today, even those for homebrew wines, are dependent on use of grapes as the fruit juice source, it is actually very possible to learn how to make homemade wine by using fruits aside from just grapes all the time. The key is to use garden-fresh fruits so your homemade wine can be made in an affordable manner.
Quality Fruit-Based Wines
You might be inclined to think that wines brewed at home using fruits aside from grapes will be of sub-standard quality. That is not true – you can make excellent fruit-based wines such as apricot wines and red currant wines that can be comparable with the expensive grape-based wines you can buy at wine stores. The process for how to make homemade wine using fruits other than grapes is just the same as the homebrew recipes for grape-based wine, and will require the same level of care.
Necessary Adjustments during Wine Making
A key difference between using fruits other than grapes and using grapes themselves for wine making is that you will have to make some adjustments to the fruit-based wine blend prior to fermentation – grape-based wine will not require any or much adjustments prior to fermentation because grape juice happens to lend itself well to the wine making process. That is one major reason why more wineries use grape and grape juice than other fruits. Still, fruits are still acceptable for wine making once you get over this challenge.
With the fruit-based wine blend, you have to adjust: a) the precise proportion of fruit per gallon that should be prepared; b) the degree to which available sugars have to be checked then adjusted; and c) to what degree your fruit juice acidity has to be determined and then adjusted too.
If you can cope with having to do these adjustments to your fruit-based wine blend (and they won’t require much effort on your part after all), then fruit-based wine making should be easy for you to undertake.
Fruits to Use for Fruit-Based Wine Making
When you try to make homebrewed wine using fruits, you can use fruits like persimmons, pineapples, pears, grapefruits, boysenberries, gooseberries, blackberries, peaches, watermelons, plums, and strawberries. You might also want to experiment with other fruits that are not on this list to see how well you do.
The quality of the fruit you will be using will dictate the final quality of your fruit-based wine. In this sense, fruit-based wine making is just like grape-based wine making. So you should always start out your homebrew attempts by carefully choosing the best fruit you can get for your homemade wine. Avoid fruits that have bruises or mold. Try to get completely ripe fruits and always rinse them off well prior to fermentation. Avoid fruit that has not reached total ripeness because the wine that results lacks the character your fruit wine should have.
Determining How Much Fruit is Necessary for Making Fruit-Based Wine at Home
After you have chosen the right fruits and ascertained they are of excellent quality, you can start preparing the fruit juice itself. Fruit juice differs from grape juice in that you have to eke out fruit juice with water prior to fermentation – grape juice, on the other hand, can be used in its pure undiluted form for wine making. This is because certain fruits are too potent in flavor, may have exceedingly high acid levels, and may create homebrewed wine that tastes too sharp.
There are some fruits though that can be used in their pure undiluted form as well, such as apple juice. You have to check sometimes via trial and error which fruits are to be diluted and which should not.
It depends as well on what type of wine you want your fruit juice to turn into. Some may be seeking dessert wines, which are much sweeter than other types of wine. Others might like their homebrewed fruit wines to be light-bodied and crisp. Still others may prefer the heavier variety of fruit wines. So check the fruit wine recipe you are using for the right proportions of fruit juice to use so you wind up with the correct wine.
A general rule in fruit-based wine making is that the fruit pulp will add more character, body and color to your final product, when left with the juice in the primary fermentation stage. If you use pectic enzymes, much of the fruit pulp will be processed anyway into liquid juice so that substances in the pulp like tannins will leach into the fermenting juice solution. A side benefit of adding the fruit pulp to the fermentation process is that the wine that results will be more stable and can keep flavor and color for a longer time afterwards.
Determining How Much Sugar is Necessary for Making Fruit-Based Wine at Home
The starting sugar level of your fruit juice prior to fermentation should be adjusted using a wine making hydrometer so that you can compute accurately the proportion of alcohol that will be produced when the sugar is processed by yeast into wine. This step will also help you gauge how much additional sugar will be needed by your fruit juice to make it taste better (or suit your taste preferences.)
Be careful as well with which type of sugar you will use to add sweetness to your wine blend. There are various sugars available (like cane sugar, beet sugar, rice sugar, and brown sugar, to start with) and each of these can change the quality of your final wine product accordingly. Corn sugar and cane sugar are the least expensive so you could do trial batches using these and progress to other sugars in future batches.
Some might opt to add honey to their wine blend too, but this may also change your wine blend solution in a way that will surprise you. Some like honey because it gives a more rounded flavor to their wine.
Determining How Much Acid is Necessary for Making Fruit-Based Wine at Home
The acid level for each type of fruit you use for making wine will dictate the balance and character of your final wine product. You may not consider a certain type of fruit to have any acid because tasting it doesn’t make you pucker up, but all fruits have a certain degree of acid in them. So you really have to check and adjust acid levels well to come up with good-tasting wine.
How to make Homemade Wine: Final Adjustments to Make
You can amend your fruit-based wine even further just prior to bottling. This is where many interesting variations on your fruit wine can be made, according to your taste preferences. To come up with a good blend though, you should test what you plan to do to your wine in small amounts first. This way you avoid ruining the entire batch you just made with your new ideas.
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By: Randy T. Slabey Copyright 2008 RTS Leasing, LLCFor more free how to make wine articles and a free e-course, please visit the author's websites at http://www.howtomakehomemadewine.info and http://www.winemakingequipment.biz