Homemade Cherry Wine Pt. 1

July 6th, 2009
Make mine wine -- Black Tartarian cherry wine

Make mine wine -- Black Tartarian cherry wine

This year was a big year for cherries in the Pacific Northwest. Our friend planted two backyard cherry trees a few years ago — a Rainier and a Black Tartarian — and both had full boughs loaded with big, tasty fruit this June. The birds got some, as usual, but by the time the cherries were ripe and ready they’d had their fill and it was time to pick. So pick we did. The Black Tartarians ripened first.

We had ideas for lots of different cherry preparations and one that we followed through on was cherry wine. I used Sandor Ellix Katz’s basic fruit wine recipe from his book Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition and Craft of Live-Culture Foods. If you want to check out an abridged version of the recipe head over here for a fruit wine story I wrote earlier this summer for Portland’s alt. weekly Willamette Week.

Cherry wine is really easy, like most country wines, and the hardest part is having the patience to wait the nine-plus months till it’s ready to drink.

We picked three gallons of Black Tartarian cherries for five gallons of wine and then we rinsed and sorted them into two large food grade buckets. We covered them with boiling water and let them steep, buckets covered with towels, overnight.

Black Tartarian cherries steeping

Black Tartarian cherries steeping

The next day, when the buckets had completely cooled, we added a packet of champagne yeast. For the next few days we stirred the wine regularly — I’d say six or seven times a day. Once the bubbling had slowed a bit we made a big vat of simple syrup and added that to the buckets.

The wine bubbled and fermented a lot with that for several days. Again, at this stage we stirred the buckets regularly. After a couple weeks once the fermentation had slowed and the bubbling had settled down we filtered the wine.

Bonnie milking cherry udders

Bonnie milking cherry udders

And then we funneled it into a 5-gallon carboy. Next we took the fermented cherries, covered them with water, and mashed them by hand to create enough juice to fill up the remaining space of the 5-gallon carboy. For the record, mashing cherries by hand feels great — especially when the mash is cool and it’s a hot day.

Sitting pretty -- homemade cherry wine

Sitting pretty -- homemade cherry wine

I tested the sugar content today and it’s good to go — I don’t need to add any more. Now it’s the waiting game. In two months I’ll rack the wine — siphon it into a clean carboy — but until then it’ll sit pretty in a corner of the kitchen. I’ll keep you posted on its gurgling.

Homemade Cherry Wine Pt. 2

If you’re still thirsty you can read about my dandelion wine here and here.

Read about my dandelion wine here.

Ready about my hard cider here.

6 Responses to “Homemade Cherry Wine Pt. 1”

  1. It’s On — Portland Fermentation Festival THIS WEEK!! | Food Lover's Guide to Portland Says:

    […] A LOT about DIY fermented food and drink on this blog — about my hard cider adventures, cherry wine making, kimchi fermenting, kraut making and dandelion winemaking. I’m head over heels for fermented […]

  2. The Sun Magazine — My Interview with Sandor Ellix Katz | Food Lover's Guide to Portland Says:

    […] bookshelf more times than I count. From it I’ve learned how to make sauerkraut, sour pickles, fruit wine, dandelion wine and much more. It’s my kind of book — lots of back to basics recipes, […]

  3. Linda Ziedrich’s The Joy of Jams, Jellies, and Other Sweet Preserves | Food Lover's Guide to Portland Says:

    […] over and we make things to carry through the season and into the fall and winter like plum and cherry wine, kiwi preserves and fruit spiked hot sauces and […]

  4. Homemade Cherry Wine Pt. 2 | Food Lover's Guide to Portland Says:

    […] cherries. So heavy, in fact, that we decided to use three gallons worth for some old fashioned homemade cherry wine. Neither of us had made it before and we decided to use Sandor Ellix Katz’s basic fruit wine […]

  5. Homemade Plum Wine | Food Lover's Guide to Portland Says:

    […] that’s similar to DIY wine) and this summer I got to bottle both my first attempts at homemade cherry wine and now plum […]

  6. Liz Crain has an idea on how to spend that $5 in your pocket « Portland Farmers Market Blog Says:

    […] her daughter every spring. Fruit wines came later and began with plums, as you know, followed by ¬†Black Tartarian cherries¬†because our friend’s tree […]

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