Blackberry Wine

31/2 to 4 pounds ripe blackberries, fresh or frozen

1 Campden tablet (sulfites), optional

1 teaspoon pectic enzyme

2 pounds sugar (adjust to taste)

1 package wine yeast

1 teaspoon yeast nutrient

Crush the berries with a potato masher in a 5-gallon plastic bucket. Strain out 1/2 cup blackberry juice and reserve at room temperature. Add the Campden tablet, if desired. Let stand for 24 hours, covered. The tablet eliminates all bacteria and foreign yeasts, but will leave sulfite residue.

Pour 4 quarts boiling water over mixture. When cool, add the pectic enzyme, which digests pectin that otherwise may leave wine cloudy. Stir in the sugar.

Make a yeast-starter culture, combining the reserved 1/2 cup tepid blackberry juice with the yeast and yeast nutrient in a Mason jar. Cover, shake vigorously and let stand in a warm place until bubbly, 1 to 3 hours. Add this to the "must" (wine at its beginning stage). Cover bucket loosely with a towel, let stand 4 to 5 days at room temperature. Stir daily.

After mixture stands, strain it, using a funnel, through cheesecloth or a fine strainer into a 1-gallon glass jug that has been sterilized for 10 minutes in a 200-degree oven. Recycled cider jugs work well. Add enough water to measure 1 gallon of wine, leaving 21/2 inches of airspace. Attach airlock stopper in neck to release carbon dioxide and keep out oxygen.

Sterilize bottles in a 200-degree oven or in boiling water. Siphon wine through plastic tubing into bottles, leaving 1/2 inch headroom. Wine may also be kept in jug to dispense as needed. Cork bottles. If you don't have a corker, you may pound corks in with a rubber mallet.

Let bottles stand upright 5 days, before laying on sides for storage. This allows corks to pop out, instead of exploding, if wine is still fermenting. Store bottles on side for a good seal.

Let age. Six months is fine. A full year is better.

NOTE: Supplies are available at Black Bird in Medford and Harmon's Home Brew in Central Point.

— Recipe courtesy of Carla David

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