A quince is the Quasimodo of the fruit world, seemingly the love child of a lemon and an apple. Makes delicious wine… so I have been told. I have made 3 batched now but the first I believed erroneously had become infected, the second is bottled and maturing – still got at least two months and the third batch is the one you see being made now.
Quince is a winter fruit and prices vary depending on the season in Britain. Buy too soon and they are expensive and weedy and this is easily the most expensive fruit wine I have made. I chose to wait a few weeks and some giants appeared that were clean and bruise free. Like an apple or pear they bruise easily and the flesh discolours so have a good look at them when buying.
The recipes are very standard with little variation. This is because quinces need to be prepared correctly boiling them for no longer than 15 minutes so that pectin is not extracted in excessive measure. They are reasonably tannic and high in sugar so you do not need to add much to them except raisins to add some body. I imagine a handful of rose petals could be added in the last month to give a Membrillo like flavour. Quince wine can be left totally dry or be back sweetened after stabilisation to your own taste.
QUINCE WINE 4.5L
Suitable Yeasts – CY17, MA33, D47
Can be totally dry to a sweet desert wine
20 to 25 Quinces
2 lemons – juiced
700g sugar (aprox) to SG1.09
Add 50g of rose petals at the end of fermentation if desired. The zest from the lemons can be added if desired.
Rinse your quince to get rid of any gunk on them. Get the 4 litres of water starting to heat in a huge pan so that you can control the amount of time they are boiling. Slice the quinces removing the hard cores and use a food processor to grate or slice the fruit, skin and all, throwing it in the water as it heats.
Most recipes say that you need between 20 to 25 fruit for 4.5 litres of wine but this is a bit vague as quince range from apple to grapefruit size. the 20 – 25 ratio is for apple sized quince in my view. I had some whoppers and only used 14 and knew to stop when the quince stops being submerged in the water. As this gets to a rolling boil and the fruit starts to soften it will become totally submerged with space to spare. After 15 minutes it will be soft but not a mush so remove from the heat and allow to stand for two days for juice, flavour and aroma to be extracted. Keep the pan lid on at all times to keep any pests being attracted.
Draining the liquid from the flesh is fiddly, messy and time consuming. I luckily had a giant pasta colander (God bless TK Maxx) that really helped but a sterilised muslin and funnel will do. Let the liquid drain naturally with out squeezing the pulp as this will extract an unholy amount of pectin. Just let gravity and time do the work – about 6 hours maybe even longer if you can. As it drains throw in a teaspoon of pectic enzyme to break down the dreaded pectin and wait another 12 to 24 hours.
Now the fun begins. Add sugar – a hydrometer really is needed for this recipe and get the Start Gravity to 1.08 or 1.09, add the juice of 2 lemons then the yeast and yeast nutrient then wait for the magic to start. Quince makes an aromatic white wine so choose a less vigorous white wine yeast to keep the scent from boiling off as it ferments.
As there is no pulp in the wine you do not need to stir the must during primary fermentation which is fortunate as you will be knackered from all the preparation that occurred earlier in the recipe. Once the primary fermentation starts to die down after 4 to 7 days syphon into a sanitised and air-locked demijohn and rack at 6 weeks then every 2 to 3 months after.
Bottling can occur at six months but the longer in bulk aging the better. There will be a lot of particulate suspended in the wine as the fruit is oddly “granular” this is entirely natural and over three months or so it will settle with a definite band of clear and hazy forming. Try to resist the temptation to disturb the demijohn as much as possible as this just shakes it all up and when racking it is advise to move the demijohn and then leave to resettle for a couple of days.
It takes at least a year for this Cinderella wine to mature, but many people say it can easily go two years before you open the first bottle with this being one of the few white fruit wines that matures gracefully.