Strawberry wine is a great wine for beginners to make. It is an easy process requiring not too much work and it is very forgiving of mistakes and versatile making a sweet or dry wine.
I had 10 litres maturing and decided to get creative with it dividing it into 2 separate demijohns with a little left over. One demijohn will be further divided next month to make 3 bottles or traditional table wine and 3 bottles of strawberry vermouth.
JACK KELLER’S EXHAUSTIVE CHAMPAGNE MAKING GUIDE which formed the basis of my experiments
So that left the rest to be turned into champagne, well sparkling wine as Walthamstow is not in the designated Champagne region. The “left over” suddenly became very useful being plopped into a small bottle to start a secondary fermentation. This was a stroke of luck that it took the bung as if it was made for it rather than some Heath Robinson style recycling. The strawberry wine is totally dry so I did not have to worry about residual sugar messing my calculations in it. I use the term calculations loosely by the way. I dissolved 17 grams of sugar into the 750ml of wine and added some yeast nutrient to provide a head start. Then I added the yeast which was EC1118 and was dropped onto the top and left to hydrate – the image shows the yeast 10 or so minutes later.
After 2 hours I stirred the yeast into the must and noticed to my surprise that it was happy and bubbling so very must active. The grains has swelled showing confirming this. The next day I added 40ml of water to account for the extra alcohol created and added another dose of sugar to keep things rolling along. 24 hours after starting I felt confident it was ready to add to the main body of the demijohn. I removed a litre or so of the wine to make space which went straight into the sterilised champagne bottles. The must was sweetened (chaptilised for the technically minded!) with the equivalent of 20g of sugar per bottle meaning 140g was added for the 7 bottles. Then the yeast infused starter was mixed into it and then promptly poured into the bottles, corked and caged to keep them secure when the pressure builds. Always use champagne bottles for this as they are thicker walls with a stronger neck and dome at the base to hold their shape. If you use a standard wine bottle you are going to have a bad day when it explodes.
The plastic corks are hollow and over the next few days the wine will upended and mature upside down for two reasons. The first is that it allows the sediment to collect in the hollow cap over time. When it comes to opening it can be “riddled” freezing the cap and popping cork for sediment free sparkling wine! Secondly the weight of the bottle (and the cage) means the cork is less likely to pop creating a sparkling wine volcano.
Fingers crossed. No idea how long it will take but strawberry wine is quick to mature, a regular bottle only needs nine months so I am possibly three months away from tasting… if it carbonates! If anyone has any time frames for this please let me know!