wine

Crude Guide to Fruit Wine Making

July 27, 2020

You can make wine from any fruits containing sugar. Not just from fruits, flowers and wood saps are viable raw materials too. If the sugar concentration is not enough, adding more is a quick fix.

By definition, wine is an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting grape must – grapes with seeds, peels and stalks mashed together. If you want to use other fruits to achieve similar feat, add fruit’s name before “wine”. Mango Wine, Bignay Wine and Duhat Wine are popular examples.

Wine is basically ethanol – a kind of alcohol. Yeast acts on sugar in a solution to produce ethanol and carbon dioxide gas. Using the concept, water and sugar are enough to get started. Flavors can be added afterwards.

It’s an easy mass production. Less natural with less worry about variation among batches.

Natural product is what we want, so we will stick to the basics. Use freshly extracted fruit juice, including fibers and peels whenever possible. Retain all nutrients, antioxidants and flavors that can withstand the process.

Natural product with a troublesome quality control process. But, may command higher price point in the end.

Getting The Equipment

When I was working at university, getting equipment and ingredients was a pain. I browsed great deal of catalogs with no success. I called hundreds of local suppliers only to find out they never had the things we needed.

Now, you can get them with few button clicks without the need to leave office or home. Adding to the fact, merchants and couriers are more than willing to pay custom charges on your behalf and deliver the items to your doorsteps.

pH meter

Measures juice acidity.

Yeast has acidity requirement for optimal fermentation. At pH 4-4.5, yeast can proliferate well while others can’t, except for molds – that will be dealt later.

Juice pH also affects sensory properties and shelf life. Near neutral pH is void of fruitiness and at the same time encourages microbial growth.

Sugar refractometer

Measures sugar concentration, as the name implies.

Add extra sugar because fruit juices sugar content is usually below the minimum requirement of 20%. It will go down further as some recipes suggest dillution.

According to our previous study, sugar palm and coconut flower sap can have up to 20% sugar.

At collection time, sap ferments spontaneously as soon as it reaches the collection chamber.

So, our observed 20% sugar is only true briefly. Worst case scenario, getting the sap hours later is likely to give vinegar.

Air lock

Fermentation happens in absence of oxygen — anaerobic. Yeast gets its energy by breaking sugar molecules, producing ethanol and carbon dioxide as products.

Also, air removal arrests aerobic microbes growth — microbes needing oxygen — allowing only the production of ethanol. So the molds — which are aerobic microbes — has been dealt with.

  1. Make a cheap but reliable air lock.
  2. Get a flexible hose, rubber plug and small water bottle.
  3. Simply fit the hose through rubber plug and apply silicone sealant for air tight seal.
  4. Dip the other hose end into water container that is filled to half capacity.
  5. Attach the contraption to fermentation bottle to allow escape of carbon dioxide gas but prevent entry of external air. It will create a perfect anaerobic environment for wine making.

Fermentation bottle

I recommend a narrow neck glass jar. It is inert and won’t affect wine flavor in any way. Making it air tight is pretty easy too, jut fit with a rubber plug.

It makes your wine making life a bit easier.

However, no one forbid the use of wide mouth jars. Convert a food grade pail to a fermentation tank as you wish. But, take extra effort to seal all air entry points!

Use stainless steel tanks for bigger capacities. However, not all stainless steel are created equal. Be sure your choice can resist acidic fluids.

Thermometer

Monitor juice temp by inserting a stainless steel(ss) probe thermometer in fermentation jar. I mean digital thermometer with long ss probe.

The setup is ideal but not economical for large volume production with numerous small fermentation tanks. Do random installation at first for monitoring purposes. Then, add more as you see fit.

Monitor room temperature. Install one for a relatively small area. Add more as the space gets bigger.

Regulate room temperature in accordance to yeast strain. Install ventilator, exhaust fan, air conditioning unit or combination of as needed. Each strain has its own temperature requirement for optimum performance. I recommend choosing the one which best suits your region climate.

Alcohol refractometer or alcohol hydrometer

I recommend refractometer. It is easier to use and more durable.

Wine alcohol content ranges from 7 to 14 percent.

Getting Ingredients

Fruits

  • Make a list of available fruits in your area.
  • Review its properties and know if someone has already made wine from it.
  • Study its preparation methods if the maker permits. You may find steps specific to a particular fruit that might save you time, effort and cost.
  • Take note of the fruiting seasons so you can prepare ahead.
  • Process fruits as it come to minimize use of refrigeration facility.

Sugar

Refined white sugar is ideal. Washed, brown and even molasses may do. However, other types may contain dirt and residual flavors that might affect wine. It’s alright if that’s what you’re trying to achieve.

Tartaric acid

Juice pH is important. Although you think it isn’t. I cannot blame you because most wine recipes you’ve read never talked about acidity.

Sour fruits like mango don’t need pH adjustment. That’s probably true, if cut open at the right stage of ripeness. It needs otherwise. And, mangoes in a container won’t go ripe evenly.

Tartaric acid is ideal for acidity adjustment. Not calamansi or citric acid.

Citric acid encourages souring of wine. I didn’t believe it at first, but we experienced it during dragon fruit wine research. All the wine batches with citric acid added became sour.

We sold it as vinegar. So, soured wine was not gone to waste.

Campden tablet or sodium metabisulfite.

Before adding yeast, you can pasteurize the juice to kill unwanted microorganisms but loose delicate flavors as consequence. Using sodium metabisulfite instead can eliminate microbes while preserving delicate flavors.

Don’t worry too much about the chemical. Metabisulfite evaporates along the wine process.

Do you want to retain delicate flavors without adding any preservative? You may skip both pasteurization and metabilsulfite addition.

Go inoculate yeast directly. It’s a hit or miss process that is likely to fail than succeed. And, for the ultimate gamble. Just rely on naturally occurring yeast for spontaneous ferment.

The result might be erratic, but at least, you don’t have the guilt.

Campden tablet is easier to find than metabisulfite. Especially if you are looking on online stores. The two are basically the same but campden tablet is formulated for wine use.

The maker indicates juice to campden tablet ratio. For sodium metabisulfite powder, add 5 ml of 10% solution per gallon of juice.

Juice Preparation

For juicy fruits.

  • Extract juicy fruits by squeezing with a cheesecloth or by passing through any juice extractor.
  • Then, add three parts water for every part juice.
  • Lessen the water for stronger flavor.
  • Don’t add water if you wish.

Putting fruits in a blender is a good option. Besides, grape must is prepared similarly.

  • Remove peels and seeds.
  • Put in blender with three parts water.
  • Whir for few minutes.
  • Proceed.

For hard fruits like guava.

  • Chop.
  • Add one part water for every part fruit.
  • Boil for about 30 minutes.
  • Set aside the liquid used for boiling.
  • Subject the softened fruit through juice extractor or in blender.
  • Combine the two liquids.
  • Proceed.

Try using fruit peels

It taste differently so do not go adding them all to future batches. Do low volume trials first. Then continue those exhibiting good results.

Adjust sugar concentration

Adjust it to 20% for dry wine and to 25% for sweet wine. Add more sugar for sweeter taste. Do little at a time, stirring and getting the reading with refractometer. Tabulate data. You can do next batch faster by using the previous data as reference.

Measure acidity with pH meter

Adjust pH accordingly. It’s a bit confusing at first because the pH will go lower as you add more tartaric acid powder. If it’s a downward trend, then then you’re in the right direction.

Fermentation

  • Transfer the juice to a clean and sterile fermentation bottle, filling only to half capacity.
  • Add Campden tablet or metabisulfite solution.
  • Set aside for 24 hours. The chemical needs time to do its job.
  • Add wine yeast following the instructions set by the manufacturer.

An alternative is use of wine yeast cultures in test tubes which requires microbiology skills. First time wine makers without first hand micro lab training will have hard time to start.

  • Cover the tank with prepared or store bought air lock.
  • Wait for a moment, bubbling will occur. A good sign that yeast is doing its job well.
  • Be patient because it may take longer.

If there is no bubbling, the yeast might have lost viability. It is good to have a regular fresh yeast and do a 300 -500 ml fermentation trial to assess yeast viability.

  • Monitor room temperature and solution temperature.
  • Include color changes and other noticeable appearance deviations.
  • Record

Harvesting

  • Wait 3-4 weeks or until the bubbling stops.

Take note that yeast dies of alcohol. Each strain has different tolerance level. Some can survive as high as 18%.

  • Regulate alcohol content by mixing high and low ferments.
  • Alternatively, use yeast strain with specific alcohol target.
  • Or, deactivate the yeast midway, with heat of course.

Harvest wine

  • Decant, taking care not to disturb the settled solids and the floating scum.

Take it from me. It is easier this way than getting the mixture hastily and using filter paper to get rid of unwanted solids.

  • Add extra Campden tablet to compensate for the used up metabisulfite.

Previous and subsequent operations might have introduced microbial contaminants. It is better safe than sorry. If you opt for heat treatment, then do it instead.

Clarification and Aging

  • Do the two simultaneously.
  • Store wine without any disturbance to allow the solids to settle.
  • Then, siphon out the clear liquid carefully leaving the rest.

Wine is ready after six months. But, waiting longer develops flavor and pumps the price up. Seeing “10 year old” labelled wine is common.

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