Tag: Sparkling wine

CREATING SPARKLING WINE

The first sparkling wine I made nearly took my eye out with the explosive force when we popped the cork. After Ms Gazette had stopped laughing and the cat was found we had a great strawberry champagne that was far beyond what I had imagined I could make and was better than the commercial bottle I used as a control. The second was a little nerve racking as it was 12 bottles for a friends wedding but that all went swimmingly too… he still talks to me at least.

strawberry-champagne
Strawberry Sham-pagne

I already plan to make an elderflower shampagne and might make a dandelion fauxseco this year and have just turned last years gooseberry wine into the latest batch of er… sparkling wine. Crisp dry whites are probably best but I may well try and carbonate a second run medium bodied elderberry & blackberry wine about this time next year. You’re making it so go crazy as the world is your lobster.

I am assuming that like me you are making a small batch of champagne – six to twelve bottles using a British gallon or two of wine. If you are making a bigger batch have a read through this exhaustive guide by Jack Keller: http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/sparkling.asp

The process is surprisingly easy using a simplified “méthode champenoise” to create a second fermentation in the bottle. As the new fermentation happens the gas is trapped and dissolves in the wine creating all those lovely bubbles. As there is a lot of pressure created you must use champagne bottles. They are made with thicker glass, stronger necks and may well be shaped or have a domed base to deal with the pressure. Along with those you need some hollow plastic corks and cages. The bottle is stored upside down so that the yeast collects in the corks cavity and either compacts enough to be removed when opened or the bottle can be riddled – freezing the wine in the cap then swapping it for a new sediment free one. The cage and upturned bottle keeps the cork in place so the pressure does not create a wine time bomb popping the cork out.

Sparkling wine corks
Hollow plastic “corks” for sparkling wine.

There are a few yeasts that can be used for the second fermentation and the most popular is EC1118 though others like Premier Curvee, WLP715 or CL23 are all available. The yeast does not need to be used for the the initial fermentation when making the base wine so you can match two yeasts to make the best base wine and then carbonate with the sparkling wine yeast. Most people will just happily plough through with EC1118 as it is easy, dependable and tastes excellent.

The gooseberry wine was over six months old and at the age I normally bottle. When making it I did not use any campden after the primary fermentation so that there is little to hamper the new yeast as it is already being introduced to hostile alcohol rich environment. The wine was totally dry at 0.99 gravity so I know how much it will carbonate as the sugar is directly responsible for the carbon dioxide produced thus pressure created. No sediment was falling being nice a clear and almost totally degassed naturally. 17g of sugar will make an American style four atmosphere fizz and 25g creates a French style six atmosphere fizz. Sparkling wines are always more carbonated than bears that will be between one and a half to three atmospheres. If using a young wine with lots of carbon dioxide still dissolved plan for the US style four atmospheres for safety.

Sparkling wine kit and ingredients
All you need to turn your wine to sparkling wine.

Two days work will need to happen before bottling so make sure you have the nights set aside. Also kit needs to be scrupulously sanitised as you go.

First a starter needs to be made to kick start the second fermentation. Separate 750ml of wine from the demijohn into a sanitised litre bottle or jar. Reseal the demijohn and pop it away safely, as there is head space here is a slight chance of oxidation but unlikely. The wine needs 13g of sugar and perhaps a 1/4 tsp of yeast nutrient stirred in before adding the yeast. Some yeasts like Vintners Harvest/Mangrove Jacks have the nutrient already present so have a check. When the yeast is added seal the bottle as you would with any other fermentation with a bung and airlock and allow the yeast to sit and hydrate for a couple of hours. Some yeast may float some may fall but if it is happy it will start to swell and dissolve and it is then ready to stir in thoroughly.

Sparkling wine seperated
Starter and base wine separated. The yeast makes the starter look paler.

There will never be a heavy bubbling during this second fermentation as the yeast is really pushing towards its limits in an alcohol rich environment. There may be small bubbles rising, some may collect on the surface and there will certainly be gentle airlock activity. The must should be kept at more or less room temperature rather than in a cooler bulk ageing environment.

Sparkling wine starter
Happy yeast fermenting in the starter.

After 24 hours add 40ml of sanitised water to dilute the new alcohol and add another 13g of sugar to feed the yeast and leave for another 24 hours. This time will allow the yeast to acclimatise as much as possible and minimise the chance of a stuck second fermentation.

It might be a good time to start and clean and sanitise the bottles and caps at this point. The bottles should be spotlessly clean as always and the caps can either be boiled for ten minutes and left to cool or sanitised in campden or no rinse sanitiser. If boiling the caps to sterilise them be sure to make sure they are cool and thus strong enough to push into the bottles. Hot caps are soft and deform easily!

Recombining to make the sparkling wine
Recombining the base wine, starter and sugar.

Once the starter is viable and happy the remainder of the wine should be prepared. Decide on either a four or six atmosphered wine. Four atmospheres will need 17g of sugar added per bottle thus 102g per British gallon. A European style six atmosphere wine will need 25g per bottle thus 150g per British gallon. Add the sugar to the demijohn and stir into the wine thoroughly. Then add the starter and stir thoroughly again.

Filling the bottles
Wheeeeeee…

This sugar and yeast rich wine is now ready to pour into the champagne bottles and cap. Personally I choose to use a jug rather than an auto-syphon as it allows the wine to be stirred between pours dispersing the dense sugar and yeast evenly. Cages are essential should be used twisting to get a good tight seal – this may take a few attempts as the brittle wire will tear if over tightened. Once capped upend and stand on their heads and cellar. After a month give the bottle a swift twist to encourage the sediment to settle into the caps but resist the temptation to shake the bottles.

 

Sparkling wine cork and cage
Caging wild sparkling wine is not cruel.

Fermentation may take about a month but the originating fruit will determine how long the wine should be matured. Rhubarb and gooseberry will need at least 18 months from the initial fermentation, elderflower about a year and strawberry possibly as little as six to nine months.

Advertisements

ROSEHIP WINE RECIPE

Rosehip wine at 8 days
Rosehip wine at eight days old.

Rosehips as every one tells you are packed 10000% vitamin C and can destroy the cold virus at a hundred paces. Natures little apothecary cabinet wrapped up in a little red berry thing. Screw that were making wine.

Picked Rosehips
Harvested rosehips.

Rosehips can be harvested around September onwards and have a decent sized window to grab them. Traditionally they were picked after the first frost as this changes starches into abundant sugar in the flesh of the hips. Now we have freezers that can be picked when they are plump with a slight give when squeezed but not wrinkled or squishy. The freezer will do the job of a frost and means they can be kept indefinitely. If you cannot wait till the autumn dried rosehips are common in mung been selling health shops and brew shops online. Dried rosehip wine is made with a different ratio of hips as the extraction differs.

As I had a full compliment of wines ageing in all my demijohns I was unable to start the wine when I picked the rosehips. I sliced the woody end off the top and then froze them for a couple of months. Topping them means that the woodier taste will not infuse when the wine is in primary fermentation and the softer flesh is exposed to the water to extract as much flavour and sugar as possible. Slicing the tops was labourious and I was contemplating slicing them down the middle and removing the fur covered pips too. This was basically impossible as it would have taken an absolute age to do. The seeds have tannins in them and this adds body to the wine naturally rather than adding it with a tannin or tea additive.

Thawing rosehips
The frozen hips were allowed to defrost over night.

Once a demijohn freed up I left the hips in a sanitised stainless steel pan to defrost over night. A blanch of boiling water was used to kill any wild yeasts and bacteria that might have clung on during the freeze. I have seen a few differing ideas on preparing the hips but personally I did not want to chop them in a food blender as this will rupture the bitter seeds and there was no need to strenuously mash or boil the fruit either as the soft flesh purées easily during the fermentation.As rosehips are high in pectin I added pectic enzyme to break this down allowing a generous 24 hours for it to do its work.

Fermentation was gentle with the VR21 yeast I selected with little foam and a nice perfume given off as it happily bubbled away A slower fermentation means that aroma will kept better than a faster more vigerous fermentation. Any white wine yeast would probably do and EC1118 may be another good choice if you like the classic champagne taste. The flavour is seems more suited for a slightly sweet or sweet wine and would probably be good for a sparkling rosé. It tastes good even at a young age entering secondary fermentation but almost all reports state to leave it 2 years to mature. I am hoping that this may challenge the elderflower wine as a versatile floral white with the advantage it can be made in the autumn and winter months rather than the elderflower’s springtime harvest and ferment. A nice easy wine to make this is ideal for a beginner.

 

ROSEHIP WINE – 4.5 Litres

Floral fruity white/rose wine suitable to back sweeten or make into a sparkling wine. White wine yeast needed and should probably be un-oaked. Batonnage may be good to provide a more complex flavour. 24 months to age.

INGREDIENTS

1.5kg rosehips

About 1kg sugar to 1.08SG

Juice of 3 lemons

4.5l water

Yeast

Pectic enzyme

Rosehip wine ingredients
With so few ingredients this is an easy wine to make.

 

METHOD

Pick the rosehips and slice of the woody end and pick off any stems still left on. If before a frost has occurred freeze them for at least 24 hours (leave to defrost if frozen)

Mash the rosehips with a sanitised potato masher or rolling pin to break the flesh a little then pour over 4.5 litres of water and leave to return to room temperature. Add 1tsp of pectic enzyme and leave for 24 hours to allow pectin to be destroyed.

Pectolase and gravity
Pre and post pectic enzyme and hydrometer reading.

Add the juice of three lemons and the sugar until it hits 1.08SG and then pitch the yeast.

Leave to ferment to 1.01SG and then transfer into air-locked secondary fermentation by pouring through sanitised muslin/cheese cloth. The rosehips can be squeezed to extract maximum flavour if desired.

Fermentation at 1 day and 3 days
Top – fermentation begins. Bottom – day three of fermentation.

Rack if needed to remove the sediment that builds up at week five or six and then further if needed.

Bottle after six months – the wine is suitable to stabilise and back sweeten to your own taste. Drink two years after pitching the yeast.

 

SEVILLE ORANGE WINE SURPRISE

Seville Orange Tasting
Seville orange wine at 11 months

After the bountiful harvests from July to October for various wines and infusions, the hungry months of December to February can be a fallow time for fruit wine makers. I tend to alternate each year making a quince or a parsnip wine which provides some surprising good tastes despite their rarity in drinks. Quince has a nice delicate fruitiness and the quince is a dryer more sherry like wine.

orange-wine-ingredients
All you need…

Last year the Seville orange wine was an afterthought when I had some space in demijohns. Initially I was not impressed when it was fermenting as the smell is almost non-existent and the colour was pale but upon opening a bottle after a year it has really improved. The colour is richer and a deeper orange than when it was bottled – the exact opposite of what I was expecting. The taste has developed into something really unexpected and delicious. It is orangey but towards the savoury if that is possible with the profile more like Aperol minus the botanicals as a lot of zest was added to create a more complex base. This is certainly not like an alcoholic Fanta or a glass of sweet orange juice. Serving the wine as cold as possible really adds to it.

SEVILLE ORANGE WINE RECIPE

As the oranges are juiced and the skins are large zested strips there is very little sediment to fall out so the wine clarifies quickly. When opened the wine had a little fizz as it was bottled young. Usually I would be disappointed by this as there has not been enough time for a natural degas but the slight sparkling effervescence really suited the character and Ms Gazette is interested in a fully sparkling version like a prefab Buck Fizz! This may be a good wine to add some rhubarb to build a little more depth.

orange-wine-recipe-1-day-old
Seville orange wine during primary fermentation

There are several sniffy reports that citrus wines taste like vomit, which may be true, but certainly not for this. Using Seville oranges has given a richer depth of flavour than fermenting some Sunny D and it has come out a genuine triumph. I am hoping I can keep these until the summer months for a nice cold spritzer in the evenings.

LATE SEASON STRAWBERRY WINE

Strawberry Wine 14 weeks
10L Last years wine that became half still half sparkling and er… half vermouth

A friend at work helped me out doing some colour changes to my wine labels. As a thank you he got a bottle of elderflower wine… the poor bastard. He must be a sucker for punishment as he commissioned, as in bullied me into making him some wine for his upcoming wedding. They are making some elderflower champagne for the ceremony and I am making some for the reception or vice versa – I pretty much blacked out with fear as I worked out what I had agreed to. All I can think of is guests being blinded by it or poisoned, or blinded and poisoned.

strawberries
24 punnets for 10 litres of wine

A mad dash got me the last of the seasons strawberries as ideally I want to get it started this year so it can have 10 months ready for the ceremony.

CLICK HERE FOR THE BASIC STRAWBERRY WINE RECIPE AND METHOD

Strawberry wine – 4.5 Litres

Champagne Yeast EC1118 or CY17

2kg firm strawberries
1kg-ish of sugar to 1.08SG
About 4 litres water
1 tsp citric acid or juice of 1 lemon
half cup of tea
1 tsp pectolaise
1 tsp yeast nutrient
Yeast

Ready in six months, better after nine!

Strawberry wine has a unique maceration treating the fruit with care so not to extract too much bitterness. First strip the greenery off the strawberries cut any bruising away. Mash the fruit then pour over 1 litre of boiling water and leave it for 24 hours – 36 or 48 if it has not puréed into a smooth goo. As it sits boil the remaining 3 litres of water and let it sit covered to cool.

strawberry-wine-mashing
Prepping strawberries to macerate

So far so violent! The gentle care come when extracting the juice. Pour the pulp into a funnel lined with clean sterilised muslin/cheese cloth and let the liquid drip through. As space starts to appear pour in some of the cooled water and let that drip through so it can extract more of the flavour. You can stir the goo but do not squeeze the bag as this forces out bitter tastes you do not want. It will probably take at least an hour for all the water to pass through.

strawberry-wine-soaking
Strawberries macerating

As I am eventually making champagne I need to keep the sugar to a maximum of SG1.08 when I make this. Champagne is made using a secondary fermentation after the wine has matured a little. As there is a lot of alcohol made there is an upper limit the new yeast can tolerate when it gets added just before bottling. If you are making a still wine you can go to SG1.09 or higher of you want something strong. I had to add about 800g of sugar.

strawberry-wine-fermenting
Fermentation after 24 hours

Another wait is needed if you add pectolaise to break down the pectin. this is not essential but is desirable. So another 24 hours passed with the wine covered and safe from bacteria. A half cup of strong tea is added after pectolaise as the enzyme likes to gobble tannin as well as pectin. Tannin adds body to the wine as strawberries lack this essential element unlike grapes. Yeast and nutrient are added and then after three hours there were signs of fermentation which picked up in power until 24 hours later there was a loud and vigorous bubbling happening.

After 5 days I racked into secondary with an air lock and all looks good. It will sit in the wide necked demijohn for 5 or 6 weeks protected with its blanket of carbon dioxide preventing any oxidation and then at this point I will rack into a narrow neck demi as the smaller surface area is exposed to oxygen and possible oxidation. The current wide neck demi allows easy cleaning afterwards as there will be a lot of lees settling.

Chaptilizing is adding yeast and sugar as a secondary fermentation and I plan to do this around month 4 or 5 as it gives enough time for the wine to clear initially. Strawberry wine is quick in many aspects. The over all time from pitch to pop is just 9 months although it ca mature for up to a year and a half. With in this fermentation always seem explosive and I have had some foam out the air lock. Yeast settles quickly too with a very clear wine after 2 or 3 months – further time may be needed to off gas the dissolved CO2 though.

CLICK HERE FOR STRAWBERRY CHAMPAGNE GUIDE

strawberry-champagne
The early season strawberry champagne. Best wine I have made!

One thing I may try next April is also adding banana as this can create further depth in a white fruit wine – reds similarly use raisins that would overpower the strawberries creating a muddled taste. As I have no leeway with this batch I am sticking to tried and tested methods. I can experiment when my only client is myself.

STRAWBERRY CHAMPAGNE

STRAWBERRY CHAMPAGNE

Strawberry Wine 14 weeks
10L STARWBERRY WINE

Strawberry wine is a great wine for beginners to make. It is an easy process requiring not too much work and it is very forgiving of mistakes and versatile making a sweet or dry wine.

STRAWBERRY WINE RECIPE

I had 10 litres maturing and decided to get creative with it dividing it into 2 separate demijohns with a little left over. One demijohn will be further divided next month to make 3 bottles or traditional table wine and 3 bottles of strawberry vermouth.

JACK KELLER’S EXHAUSTIVE CHAMPAGNE MAKING GUIDE which formed the basis of my experiments

STRAWBERRY CHAMPAGNE STARTER
STRAWBERRY WINE STARTER

So that left the rest to be turned into champagne, well sparkling wine as Walthamstow is not in the designated Champagne region. The “left over” suddenly became very useful being plopped into a small bottle to start a secondary fermentation. This was a stroke of luck that it took the bung as if it was made for it rather than some Heath Robinson style recycling. The strawberry wine is totally dry so I did not have to worry about residual sugar messing my calculations in it. I use the term calculations loosely by the way. I dissolved 17 grams of sugar into the 750ml of wine and added some yeast nutrient to provide a head start. Then I added the yeast which was EC1118 and was dropped onto the top and left to hydrate – the image shows the yeast 10 or so minutes later.

After 2 hours I stirred the yeast into the must and noticed to my surprise that it was happy and bubbling so very must active. The grains has swelled showing confirming this. The next day I added 40ml of water to account for the extra alcohol created and added another dose of sugar to keep things rolling along. 24 hours after starting I felt confident it was ready to add to the main body of the demijohn. I removed a litre or so of the wine to make space which went straight into the sterilised champagne bottles. The must was sweetened (chaptilised for the technically minded!) with the equivalent of 20g of sugar per bottle meaning 140g was added for the 7 bottles. Then the yeast infused starter was mixed into it and then promptly poured into the bottles, corked and caged to keep them secure when the pressure builds. Always use champagne bottles for this as they are thicker walls with a stronger neck and dome at the base to hold their shape. If you use a standard wine bottle you are going to have a bad day when it explodes.

The plastic corks are hollow and over the next few days the wine will upended and mature upside down for two reasons. The first is that it allows the sediment to collect in the hollow cap over time. When it comes to opening it can be “riddled” freezing the cap and popping cork for sediment free sparkling wine! Secondly the weight of the bottle (and the cage) means the cork is less likely to pop creating a sparkling wine volcano.

STRAWBERRY CHAMPAGNE
ONE BOTTLE OF VERY YONG STRAWBERRY CHAMPAGNE

Fingers crossed. No idea how long it will take but strawberry wine is quick to mature, a regular bottle only needs nine months so I am possibly three months away from tasting… if it carbonates! If anyone has any time frames for this please let me know!