Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Award Winning Strawberry Wine

After this year's WineMaker Magazine Competition I will have won medals of all types (gold, silver, bronze) for my Viognier, Amarone and Strawberry wines since 2008. My Strawberry wine has been a special project based on a local product I knew I could source.

We talked a lot about Strawberry wine while I was on the conference trip and luckily we brought some to share. I introduced the topic when answering a question about how I processed fruit a whole bunch of times. I said I froze it and then let it defrost so I could crumble it into straining bags, easily extracting pits if needed. Excitement was shared many times at how useful this practical trick is.

The response to the wine was amazing and we thank all of your for it. I never expected this fun hobby would net me such awesome feedback. I wanted to share my recipe for this wine and my thoughts on what this year will hold.

This year will be year four for us making Strawberry wine, and the recipe has never been the same from one year to the next. Here is the list of ingredients for the first batch in 2009 from frozen fruit.

2009 Strawberry Wine
(6 gallons)

1 tbsp Bentonite prepared in hot water
20 lbs sliced strawberries (in straining bags)
1.5 lbs golden raisins (in straining bags)
12 lbs sugar
1/4 tsp KMeta
1.5 tsp Pectic Enzyme
5 tsp Yeast Nutrient
1 tsp wine tannin
10 tsp Acid Blend
1 pkg Lalvin D-47 Yeast

This was the wine I brought to the competition and that won the gold medal. I sulfite the fruit after it defrosts and pitch the yeast 24 hours later. The fermentation process is really like any other, you need to macerate the berry bags twice a day and then when you are done there won't be anything left. It fermented nearly dry and halted easily. I did back-sweeten it with some white grape concentrate but only a few percent total volume. But here is my problem. This was frozen fruit and it didn't look as nice. Here is the second recipe we made from fresh fruit. We know the color and flavor is better here but we over-sweetened it and it lacked balance. Bronze medal though!

2009 Strawberry Wine #2
(6 gallons)

25 lbs sliced strawberries (in straining bags)
12 lbs sugar
1/4 tsp KMeta
1.5 tsp Pectic Enzyme
5 tsp Yeast Nutrient
1 tsp wine tannin
10 tsp Acid Blend
1 pkg Lalvin EC-1118 Yeast

Over two weekend days in June 2009 we picked 38 pounds of berries at Sunnycrest Farms in Londonderry, NH. It was fun and Margot picked on me for making her work. All in good fun!

You will notice a couple of changes right away. No bentonite up front, no golden raisins, more fruit and a different yeast. The fruit broke down to about 31 pounds and 6 was reserved frozen until the wine was complete to be used in a strawberry sugar syrup to flavor the wine. Otherwise I added the routine of adding yeast nutrient 1/3 of the way through. This wine fermented similarly to the past years.

We drank almost all of it, excluding a sweetened version made as a dessert wine that needs some age. Nothing lost in all of it for sure.

For this year I think I will use some amount of white grape juice where I had previously used golden raisins, and leave the fruit quantity the same as the second recipe. I am not sure if I will switch the yeast again, but what I can tell you is that I will use Go-Ferm to rehydrate the yeast and a good nutrient at 1/3 and 2/3 of the way through the ferment.

The sweetening syrup should have one cup of sugar to every 3 cups of fruit or less to start. Some water or white grape juice can be used to liquefy the reserve berries. If you need more sweet then add more plain sugar syrup or white grape juice in a second round. In the end I would expect you might end up adding 5-8 % of the original volume back up to 6 gallons in flavoring, it really depends on how dry the berries ferment. My second batch needed less than 5% fruit and sugar. Without the sweetener the wine is like a very light rose with clear fruit but quite dry.

I hope I can produce another good drinker because we are so low on it we are worried there might be panic! I hope anyone who tries it the best of luck. This can be the best wine with a blue cheese topped salad on a hot day.

If you have questions about this recipe or other wine and food topics just drop me a line at jasonphelps@yahoo.com or leave a comment on this post. I look forward to meeting many of you again and happy winemaking!



tam said...

Thanks for sharing your recipes!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jason,
How long did you aged it in the bottle before you drink it

Jason Phelps said...

The wine technically is ready to drink a few weeks after bottling. We have found it dries out a bit over the months, with 1-2 years being a sweet spot for enjoyment of the most of the batch.