Beats by Dre are mega expensive bass boosting earmuffs worn by annoying people on the Tube. Beets… sorry beetroot is an unfairly maligned root vegetable that I hope will make some great wine in a years time. Unlike Beats headphones beetroot is cheap… and plentiful at this time of year with nice wee ones perfect for wine making that will be sweet rather than the woody behemoths later in the season.
Scanning the interwebs there were a number of variations and ideas about beetroot wine. Some said it could be drunk a few months after fermentation and others after a year. The recipes ranged from simple mounds of beetroot to the more spiced mulled style wine with cardamom, cloves or ginger. This is the only wine I have ever seen that can have demerera sugar instead of processed white sugar that all other fruit or vegetable wines use. I imagine this can pair well with the slight malt taste of the beetroot and I may try this another time. There was also down right odd beer-wine hybrid with hops and marjoram that looked intriguing but was ultimately rejected – where the hell can you buy fresh marjoram?
I want a full bodied wine with some vinocity so have 2.2kg of beetroot and 100g of raisins which is more than some recipes, sugar is high in the beet so only 650g of sugar was needed to be added to get it to a Start Gravity of 1.09. The yeast was SN9 to help build body from the vegetable base as well as some tea to pump it up too. With various recipes the acid added ranged from traditional lemon juice or citric acid to less usual ideas. I had a good tip about three oranges and their zest with 12 peppercorns added for a neutral spice and depth of taste (credit to u/mriguy) but this was after I started making it. I chose to use the juice of limes as the acid source as some recipes recommend to compliment the beetroot taste rather than fight it. I might use these ideas in a new parsnip wine recipe next year.
Fermentation is nothing short of violent and quick. The yeast seems very happy to party hard and in only a few days the taste has changed from vegetal to a riper berry like flavour that is rich and full. This will surely further mellow into a surprising, slightly malty wine, probably suited to a little back sweetening just before bottling.
Beetroot has too annoying colour properties as it stains everything blood red like a scene from a Dario Argento film and the wine is photosensitive so ferment and store in the dark so it does not go murky brown.
BEETROOT WINE – 4.5 LITRES
650g sugar to 1.09SG
Juice of 3 limes
Strong mug of tea
BEFORE YOU START COVER EVERYTHING FROM THE BEETROOT JUICE AS IT STAINS EVERYTHING BLOOD RED!
1. Weigh and then wash the beetroot to remove any soil. Remove the woody tops the then chop into small chunks – skin and all and place in the 4.5litres of cold water with the raisins.
2. Bring to the boil in a covered pan and simmer for 45 minutes until the beetroot is soft but not mushy. Leave in the cooling water for 2 hours for flavour to be extracted.
3. Remove the now unneeded beetroot from the water and allow the liquid to cool, add pectolaise and leave for 12 to 24 hours in the covered pan to destroy pectin.
4. Add the sugar, juice of 3 limes and tea and stir in thoroughly then add the yeast and nutrient. Stir in after 15 minutes as it rehydrates.
5. Leave in primary and stir twice a day until fermentation starts to slow.
6. Transfer to an air locked secondary fermentation and rack after 5 weeks and then 10 weeks after that. Keep the wine in the dark as it is photosensitive and will discolour if left in the light.
Bottle and leave to mature for a year. Serve with out telling victims it is made from beetroot!