Last year I made about 9 differing red and white wines that all differed with the base fruit used and if they were foraged or bought ingredients. Some were sweetened just before bottling and some were left to ferment to dryness. A few of the heartier reds like the elder and black and blackberry wine were aged on oak chips while others like the elderberry were not. A few recipes were refined versions of previous wines I have made while others were totally new and experiments.
About a year ago decided to make oak leaf wine simply because it sounded interesting and unique. I think it was the first blog post I ever did and I have now been able to taste the results. Fermented totally dry it is a light crisp wine with a slightly woody herbal taste and quite different to what I was expecting when picking the leaves. There are are often dire warnings of how tannic it can be but this seems to have mellowed nicely. The next bottle may not be opened for another six months to allow it to mature even more and as I am experimenting with walnut leaf I may not make another batch. The neutral-ness that errs towards the herbal may mean it could be a good base wine for a vermouth so I may well experiment with it further though.
The rowan wine is a far stranger beast and I have no reference to what it should taste like as no one has described it in online recipes. Rowan is hardly a regular in any kitchen as it is generally bitter and often thought to be poisonous due to the parasorbic acid in raw berries. Fermentation and freezing removes the acid but the wine is still very bitter though an age away from the must that was like a fermenting battery factory. It might well age out and with some back sweetening be a genuine surprise but lets be honest there may well be a reason no one has described the taste. When I open a bottle this could be the first wine I do not drink but at pennies to make it will be no great loss. Lovely colour though!
Although not yet ready to bottle the beetroot wine has had a final rack. In three months it will be thrown into a bottle for a years ageing. When young the beetroot wine was earthy and unpalatable with a zinc-ish bite but that is changing steadily to be a more pleasant umami with an almost raspberry like after taste. It certainly seems like a far better experiment than the rowan. There is not much I can do with it but wait as it seems unsuitable to oak even though it is a red wine so only time will tell if this is a recipe worth repeating.
My quince and rose petal also seems to be a success but I have to wait 18 months to really see what happens and it that time the slight rose infusion will blend with the quince. Tasting the still young wine it was still as if there were two flavours competing rather than complementing each other. It has given me a few ideas to test if I make it again next year or the year after – I may age it on the lees using battonage to give a fuller mouth feel and also oak it ever so slightly even though it is a white wine.