Tag: Sparkling 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.

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.


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

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.

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.

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.

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.


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 Wine 14 weeks

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.


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


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.


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!