Tag: Quince Wine


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.

Oak leaf wine tasting
Light and refreshing oak leaf wine


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.

Rowan wine bottled
Lovely colour but questionable character!


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!

Beetroot wine
Beetroot claret!


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.

Quince and rose petal wine bottled
Quince and rose petal just before an 18 month nap.

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.



Quince and rose petal wine

So spring has sprung, the grass is riz, I wonder where the foragables is… sorry…

Spring is finally here. Elder flowers are starting to bloom and other more esoteric ingredients like oak leaves, gorse or dandelions are starting to become available for wine making. In a few days the elder flowers will be picked, plucked and starting to ferment, a few weeks after that I hope to make a walnut leaf wine for the first time. This means there is pressure on the demijohns to free up ready for new brews, not that space should determine if a wine is bottled.


Quince wine bottled

My quince wine has had six months since it was started and I have decided to bottle it. The taste is good, no starch or pectin haze is visible and colour is a lovely amber hue… Ms Gazette described it as a, “rose gold” as she wandered off planning her drunken quince debauchery. I say, “bottle” but it was only half of it as I am playing about with the remainder. Quince wine takes two years to mature and currently there are 12 bottles unopened in the “cellar under the stairs” and this will be joined by 7 more of the most recent batch. The remainder is becoming quince and rose petal wine inspired by Spanish membrillo.

Rose petals, pre and post boil.

Quince is a good wine bone dry but I want to quince and rose petal to be totally different with a sweeter taste to compliment the floral rose petals. Adding the rose petals is easy – making a tea out of dried petals to add to the remaining British gallon (4.5 litres) of quince. I used 5 grams of petals boiled in about a mugful of water and it made a heady perfumed brew with a fair amount of tannin present, there is plenty of time for this to mature out over 18 months. Boiling not only extracted the flavour and aroma but also sterilised the brew too. Once cooled it was dropped in to the target demijohn that I racked the quince into.

Stabiliser by itself is not enough! Use a two pronged attack like a buffalo

Adding this flavour is easy but adding sweetness is more arduous. If sugar is added to wine it can start a secondary fermentation due to dormant yeast having a nice new sugar banquet to dine on. Yeast can happily live for 18 months in a dry wine ready to rise from the grave. If a sweet wine (sweet in any form rather than just dessert wines sweet!) is wanted you have to inhibit the yeast. There are a few ways to do this and even more myths about how to do it. The important thing to remember is that a two stage attack is needed. Campden with its sodium metabisulfite will be a chemical cosh to knock any tired yeast back and then a stabiliser with potassium sorbate will be a chemical condom stopping them reproducing. Other processes could help like cold stabilisation making the yeast temporarily dormant but these are all moot compared to the chemicals. Some prefer to “max out” the yeast so that alcohol kills the yeast stone dead but this means the yeast determines your flavour and recipe rather than you – why be a slave to the properties of the yeast rather than your taste buds?

Don’t fear the foam – as the wine stabilises it foams but it will dissipate.

Now we have the wine violence and prophylactics out of the way you need a little time and effort stirring these chemicals through once a day for four days to make sure it is dispersed and active to be effective. It should be noted that the yeast can still ferment during this time, probably intangibly to the home wine maker though. A hydrometer test with three days unchanging readings is a definitive test but generally after four days it is safe to add sugar as there will be no more fermentation and risk of exploding bottles at worst or an unintended balance of sugars to acids and tannins otherwise.




A quince is the Quasimodo of the fruit world, seemingly the love child of a lemon and an apple. Makes delicious wine… so I have been told. I have made 3 batched now but the first I believed erroneously had become infected, the second is bottled and maturing – still got at least two months and the third batch is the one you see being made now.

Quince: Fruit designed by the work experience kid

Quince is a winter fruit and prices vary depending on the season in Britain. Buy too soon and they are expensive and weedy and this is easily the most expensive fruit wine I have made. I chose to wait a few weeks and some giants appeared that were clean and bruise free. Like an apple or pear they bruise easily and the flesh discolours so have a good look at them when buying.

The recipes are very standard with little variation. This is because quinces need to be prepared correctly boiling them for no longer than 15 minutes so that pectin is not extracted in excessive measure. They are reasonably tannic and high in sugar so you do not need to add much to them except raisins to add some body. I imagine a handful of rose petals could be added in the last month to give a Membrillo like flavour. Quince wine can be left totally dry or be back sweetened after stabilisation to your own taste.



Suitable Yeasts – CY17, MA33, D47
Can be totally dry to a sweet desert wine

20 to 25 Quinces
2 lemons – juiced
250g raisins
700g sugar (aprox) to SG1.09
4L water
Yeast nutrient

Add 50g of rose petals at the end of fermentation if desired. The zest from the lemons can be added if desired.


Rinse your quince to get rid of any gunk on them. Get the 4 litres of water starting to heat in a huge pan so that you can control the amount of time they are boiling. Slice the quinces removing the hard cores and use a food processor to grate or slice the fruit, skin and all, throwing it in the water as it heats.

Grate or slice the quince and pour into water so it does not start to brown.

Most recipes say that you need between 20 to 25 fruit for 4.5 litres of wine but this is a bit vague as quince range from apple to grapefruit size. the 20 – 25 ratio is for apple sized quince in my view. I had some whoppers and only used 14 and knew to stop when the quince stops being submerged in the water. As this gets to a rolling boil and the fruit starts to soften it will become totally submerged with space to spare. After 15 minutes it will be soft but not a mush so remove from the heat and allow to stand for two days for juice, flavour and aroma to be extracted. Keep the pan lid on at all times to keep any pests being attracted.

quince-pansDraining the liquid from the flesh is fiddly, messy and time consuming. I luckily had a giant pasta colander (God bless TK Maxx) that really helped but a sterilised muslin and funnel will do. Let the liquid drain naturally with out squeezing the pulp as this will extract an unholy amount of pectin. Just let gravity and time do the work – about 6 hours maybe even longer if you can. As it drains throw in a teaspoon of pectic enzyme to break down the dreaded pectin and wait another 12 to 24 hours.

Now the fun begins. Add sugar – a hydrometer really is needed for this recipe and get the Start Gravity to 1.08 or 1.09, add the juice of 2 lemons then the yeast and yeast nutrient then wait for the magic to start. Quince makes an aromatic white wine so choose a less vigorous white wine yeast to keep the scent from boiling off as it ferments.

Popped the top off to see quince wine in a gentle primary fermentation at 24 hours

As there is no pulp in the wine you do not need to stir the must during primary fermentation which is fortunate as you will be knackered from all the preparation that occurred earlier in the recipe. Once the primary fermentation starts to die down after 4 to 7 days syphon into a sanitised and air-locked demijohn and rack at 6 weeks then every 2 to 3 months after.

A lively quince wine at 36 hours after pitching yeast

Bottling can occur at six months but the longer in bulk aging the better. There will be a lot of particulate suspended in the wine as the fruit is oddly “granular” this is entirely natural and over three months or so it will settle with a definite band of clear and hazy forming. Try to resist the temptation to disturb the demijohn as much as possible as this just shakes it all up and when racking it is advise to move the demijohn and then leave to resettle for a couple of days.

It takes at least a year for this Cinderella wine to mature, but many people say it can easily go two years before you open the first bottle with this being one of the few white fruit wines that matures gracefully.