Strawberry wine was the first home made wine that I got to drink. Being impatient for my elderflower wine to mature I made it to take advantage of the 6 – 9 month ageing rather than full 12 months for the elder flowers. It was more moon shine than wine as I had no hydrometer and as all British recipes always go for maximum alcohol I imagine it was about 17% abv. It got my parents in law absolutely spannered. I think it did anyway I was spannered too. Ms Gazette as well.
As I have become more refined I have been able to get a little more exacting in my recipes and methods. Strawberry wine is great as it can be sweet or absolutely dry and easily made into champagne…. well sparkling wine at the end of bulk ageing. Extracting the juice is nice and easy and after the initial maceration requires little work like other berry wines. It is quick to mature at nine months but best at a year old so suites a new brewer or one more experienced.
I am totally happy with the strawberry champagne I make as it is crisp and sharp with an unmistakable strawberry taste that is not overly pungent or too floral to be sickly. I say happy but its actually fucking great to open your own sparkling wine that costs about £3 to make and I personally think it better than the commercial version we used to drink on Ms Gazettes birthday.
The still wine although lovely still has room for improvement as it could have some extra body in my view. I have decided to experiment with banana added to create a more robust body. Banana is a recent idea that has been developed for country/fruit wine makers as it allows a more neutral taste than wine concentrates and raisins. The jury is out on how and where it can be used with some saying it is only good for tropical fruit, others for any berry based wines and others saying only white wines. As such I have no idea if this will work and I have a year to wait to a taste test so use the classic strawberry wine recipe below if you are the exacting type. Both will have advantages over many other recipes as it removes the fruit before any bitter after tastes can be extracted and forgoes any vigorous presses that squeeze out that bitterness.
If you do want to use banana you have to plan ahead as very ripe bananas are needed. Seriously they should be going black on the skins. Chop them into inch long chunks, skin and all and then pop into part or all of the water allocated to your recipe. Bring it to the boil, simmer for 15 minutes and then wait for the water to cool overnight. The pan should remain covered to stop any bacteria falling in and remove the chunks once it is nice and cool. Initially I was terrified by what I had made as the bananas look like HR Giger made some nightmare sausage rolls. The flesh swells out of the skin and I am glad I have no photos as they look freakishly bizarre bloated messes. The resulting water is a rich peaty brown colour. When this is added to your must it will discolour it but as most of the colour is particulates it starts to settle out and will not affect the final hue. The idea is that the poly saccharides – the long sugars give added mouth feel providing a more velty feel on the tongue and the “neutral” fruit taste compliments the tastes of your base fruit. At least that’s what I read…
EXPERIMENTAL STRAWBERRY WINE – 4.5 L
Suitable yeasts – Any champagne yeast like EC1118 or white wine yeasts like CY17 or SN9
2kg firm strawberries
2 very ripe bananas
1kg-ish of sugar to 1.09SG
About 4.5 litres boiled and cooled water
Juice of 2 lemons
Half cup of strong tea
1 tsp yeast nutrient
Sachet of yeast
1. Trim and wash the strawberries
2. Mash the strawberries with a potato masher, mix in most of the sugar in a litre of boiling water, cover and leave for a day or two until it pureés
3. Chop the bananas into inch cubes skin and all and drop into the rest of the water, bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes then leave to cool
4. Remove the banana chunks when the water is cold
5. Once the strawberries have puréed strain through sterilised muslin, then pour the now cooled banana water through it to extract all the strawberry flavour. It can be stirred but do not squeeze the mush as this extracts bitter tastes
5a. (optional) Add pectolaise and leave covered for 12 to 24 hours.
6. Adjust sugar level to 1.09SG, Stir in the strong tea, lemon juice and yeast nutrient and the yeast and leave in primary. The primary fermentation vessel needs be big enough to contain the explosive fermentation as strawberries tend to foam a lot!
7. Siphon into a demijohn when primary fermentation ends – this is usually very quick at 4 or 5 days,
8. Rack after a month, then 2 months after that if needed
Can be drunk after six months of pitching the yeast, ready in nine and great after 12 but this will not last beyond 2 years.