Strawberry wine is a great wine for beginners and it has become a staple recipe for me. I have adapted it from the initial 17% hooch I first made into a still white wine, sparkling “champagne,” some vermouth experiments and now into my first composite wine with two fruits used with Strawberry and Rhubarb.
The classic strawberry wine is a quick and easy wine ideal for the beginner. Forgiving as a sweet or dry wine and quick to age to perfection. As I am now more confident with flavours, methods and throwing myself into experimenting with recipes I have decided to try and modify it to a slightly fuller rose rather than white wine. The first experiment was started last week with bananas added to bring a subtle fruitier weight to a purely strawberry wine with a more velvety mouth feel. This strawberry and rhubarb wine has two ideas to test out. The first is that rhubarb compliments strawberries as a classic taste combination creating a rounder top note, the second idea is that the raisins add a fuller base just like the bananas.
When making the strawberry wine with added body I thought that the fruitiness of the bananas would fight the rhubarb making a muddled wine with three fruits fighting for dominance. Using raisins I hope will compliment rather than battle the tartness of the rhubarb with less perfumed scents floating about in the final bottle.
Using two fruits in combination adds some complexity in logistics and recipe. Ideally strawberries and rhubarb are macerated with different methods so it is more work to prep before the yeast is even pitched. Strawberries require an aqueous maceration and rhubarb uses sugar to draw out the liquid as it dissolves. Both methods are used for the same reason to minimise bitter tastes being extracted from the fruit with only liquid being present when the yeast is eventually added. As the must is overwhelmingly liquid you have an easier life when this is in primary fermentation with little stirring needed compared to say blackberries that require a labour intensive stir four times a day!
I chose to use MA33 yeasts as it can tolerate the harsh Oxalic acid in rhubarb and convert much of it to softer tasting Malic acid. It had hell of a party and was exceptionally quick to ferment taking only four days in primary with a thick foam present for much of that time. Initially it was a grimy brown as the yeast was held with in it but as they yeast coalesced it started to sink leaving a clean white foam instead. I chose to mix the yeasty foam into the must so that it did not have any chance to oxidise. As I want the rhubarb to compliment the strawberry I used it in a 1:2 ratio with with 700 grams of rhubarb and 1400 grams of strawberries per British gallon of wine. There are no hard and fast rules for this and you can change this ratio to match your own taste. Some even make two wines of each fruit and blend them just before bottling.
STRAWBERRY AND HUBARB WINE – 4.5 L
Suitable yeasts – MA33 or other white wine yeasts
1200g firm strawberries
1kg sugar to 1.09SG
About 4 litres water
Juice of 1 lemon
Cup of strong tea
1 tsp yeast nutrient
Sachet of yeast
1. Chop the rubarb up into small chunks and pour over 1 kg of sugar. Stir it then cover. Leave for 3 days and stir twice a day to extract the juice into the sugar
2. On day two trim and wash your strawberries and mash thoroughly in a pan. Boil one litre of water then pour over 1 litre of boiling water (the other water can be set asside in a covered pan)
3. On day three chop the raisins roughly and boil in the remaining water. leave it covered red to cool.
4. Once the strawberries have puréed strain through sterilised muslin, then pour the now cooled “raisin water” through to extract the flavour. It can be stirred but do not squeeze the mush as this extracts bitter tastes
5. Stir in the rhubarb sugar into the must and remove the rhubarb with a slotted sterilised spoon. Adjust sugar level to 1.08 (11%ABV could be made into champagne too) or 1.09SG (13%ABV) Stir in the strong tea, lemon juice and yeast nutrient and the yeast and leave in primary to ferment. The primary fermentation vessel needs be big enough to contain the explosive fermentation as strawberries tend to foam a lot!
6. Rack after a month, then 2 months after that if needed
Can be drunk after 6 months of pitching the yeast, ready in nine and great after 12 but this will not last beyond 2 years.