Give people a glass of parsnip wine and they will be surprised to hear it is made from an albino carrot. The wine has a naturally sweet taste with an earthy undertone and reportedly tastes like a Medeira – oddly a wine I traditionally hate. Personally I do think it is a sherry like wine and this year I may thoroughly oxidise a few bottles to see if it can get closer to that style.
If you are making this with your own crop wait until the first overnight frost as this changes the starches into sugars. If the parsnips are shop bought they will be loaded with sugar already. When boiling to extract flavour and sugars do not over do it as the remaining starch will be liberated and take an age to settle in bulk ageing – it is not impossible but does take a number of months at least. Most recipes suggest boiling roughly chopped cubes but I have better success with grated parsnips as this takes less time to boil and less time exposed to heat that could potentially destroy flavour. The flesh will be soft but not mushy and if they are finely chopped almost see through.
Parsnip wine is cheap and easy to make with few ingredients. No tannin needs to be added and it is in good balance naturally. A little extra body is generally needed either from raisins or bananas but some people prefer to leave it au naturel with a more “whiskey” like flavour. Lemon zest, orange juice and zest or ginger can be added for various different flavour additions. I was considering using lime juice as this pairs well with beetroot wine and I thought this may similarly benefit but that is an experiment for next year.
Leaving the wine pays dividends and it will noticeably mature between the 12 to 18 month mark though it could be left for a couple of years I’m sure.
PARSNIP WINE 4.5 litres
1 to 1.3kg sugar to 1.09SG
1 lemon juice and zest
2 oranges juice and zest
1 tsp pectolase
1 tsp yeast nutrient
White wine yeast
Wash parsnips then chop and boil skins and all for 15 minutes, Flesh should be softened but not breaking up.
Strain the parsnips through muslin into primary fermentation and discard.
Add the raisins and zests while liquid is still hot.
When cool add pectolase and leave for 12 to 24 hours to work.
Add sugar, lemon and orange juice and sugar to desired level.
Add yeast and nutrient then cover for primary fermentation.
Rack into secondary fermentation when it slows and rack when over. More may be needed if starch was boiled from the parsnips.
Age for one year at least and 18 months if you can.