How to Make Fruit Wines, A Guide for Starters

Last Updated on October 20, 2020 by marvin v

You can make wine from any fruit. Not just from fruits, flowers and wood saps are viable raw materials too. If the sugar concentration is not enough, adding more is a quick fix.

By definition, wine is an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting grape must – grapes with seeds, peels, and stalks mashed together. If you want to use other fruits to achieve a similar feat, add the fruit’s name before “wine.” Mango Wine, Bignay Wine, and Duhat Wine are popular examples.

Wine is ethanol – a type of alcohol

Yeast acts on sugar to produce ethanol and carbon dioxide gas. Using the concept, water and sugar are enough to get started. Flavors can be added afterward. It’s easy to scale with less worry about variation among batches.

A natural wine product is better

Consumers are more inclined to get natural products, so we will stick to the basics. Use freshly extracted fruit juice, including fibers and peels whenever possible. To retain all nutrients, antioxidants, and flavors that can withstand the process.

Natural product with a troublesome quality control process. But, may command a higher price point in the end.

Getting The Equipment for Wine Making

When I was working at university, getting equipment and ingredients was a pain. I browsed a lot of catalogs with no success. I called hundreds of local suppliers only to find out they never had the things we needed.

Now, you can get them with few button clicks without the need to leave the office or home. Adding to the fact, merchants and couriers are more than willing to pay customs charges on your behalf and deliver the items to your doorsteps.

1. pH meter

A pH meter measures juice acidity.

Yeast has an acidity requirement for optimal fermentation. At pH 4-4.5, yeast can proliferate well while other microorganisms can’t, except for molds.

Juice pH also affects sensory properties and shelf life. Near neutral pH is void of fruitiness and at the same time encourages microbial growth.

2. Sugar refractometer to measure and adjust the sugar content

Sugar refractometer measures sugar concentration.

Add extra sugar because fruit juices sugar content is usually below the minimum requirement of 20%. It will go down further as some recipes suggest dilution.

According to our previous study, sugar palm and coconut flower sap can have up to 20% sugar.

At collection time, sap ferments spontaneously as soon as it reaches the collection chamber.

So, our observed 20% sugar is only true briefly. Worst case scenario, getting the sap hours later is likely to give vinegar.

3. Airlock to allow the escape of carbon dioxide while preventing oxygen entry

Fermentation happens in absence of oxygen – anaerobic process. Yeast gets its energy by breaking sugar molecules, producing ethanol and carbon dioxide as products.

Also, air removal arrests aerobic microbes growth – microbes needing oxygen – allowing only the production of ethanol. So the molds, which are aerobic microbes, has been dealt with.

Follow the following procedure to make an airlock.

  1. Get a flexible hose, rubber plug, and small water bottle.
  2. Fit the hose through a rubber plug and apply silicone sealant for an airtight seal.
  3. Dip the other hose end into the water container that is filled to half capacity.
  4. Attach the contraption to the fermentation bottle to allow the escape of carbon dioxide gas but prevent the entry of external air. It will create a perfect anaerobic environment for winemaking.

4. Prepare the fermentation tank or bottle

I recommend a narrow neck glass jar. It’s inert and won’t affect wine flavor in any way. Making it airtight is pretty easy too, just fit with a rubber plug.

However, no one forbids the use of wide mouth jars. Convert a food-grade pail into a fermentation tank as you wish. But, take extra effort to seal all air entry points!

Use stainless steel tanks for bigger capacities. However, stainless steel have different grades. Be sure your choice can resist acidic fluids.

5. Get reliable thermometers for monitoring

Monitor juice temp by inserting the thermometer probe in the fermentation jar. I mean digital thermometer with long probe.

The setup is ideal but not economical for large volume production with numerous small fermentation tanks. Do random installation at first for monitoring purposes. Then, add more as you see fit.

Monitor room temperature. Install one for a relatively small area. Add more as the space gets bigger.

Regulate room temperature in accordance with yeast strain. If needed, install a ventilator, exhaust fan, air conditioning unit, or combinations. Each strain has its own temperature requirement for optimum performance. I recommend choosing the one which best suits your region’s climate.

6. Alcohol refractometer or alcohol hydrometer

I recommend a refractometer. It is easier to use and more durable. A hydrometer is made of fragile glass.

Wine alcohol content ranges from 7 to 14 percent.

Getting Ingredients

1. Fruits

  1. Make a list of available fruits in your area.
  2. Review its properties and know if someone has already made wine from it.
  3. Study its preparation methods if the maker permits. You may find steps specific to a particular fruit that might save you time, effort, and cost.
  4. Take note of the fruiting seasons so you can prepare ahead.
  5. Process fruits as it come to minimize the use of refrigeration facilities.

2. Sugar

Refined white sugar is ideal. Washed, brown, and even molasses may do. However, other types may contain dirt and residual flavors that might affect the wine flavor. It’s alright if that’s what you’re trying to achieve.

3. Tartaric acid

Juice pH is important. Although you think it isn’t. I cannot blame you because most wine recipes you’ve read never talked about acidity.

Sour fruits like mango don’t need pH adjustment. That’s probably true if cut open at the right stage of ripeness. It needs otherwise.

Mangoes in a container won’t go ripe evenly. So you must monitor and adjust pH.

Tartaric acid is ideal for acidity adjustment. Not calamansi or citric acid.

Citric acid encourages the souring of wine. I didn’t believe it at first, but we experienced it during dragon fruit wine research. All the wine batches with citric acid added became sour.

4. Campden tablet or sodium metabisulfite

Before adding yeast, you can pasteurize the juice to kill unwanted microorganisms but lose delicate flavors as consequence. Using sodium metabisulfite instead can eliminate microbes while preserving delicate flavors.

Don’t worry too much about the chemical. Metabisulfite evaporates along the wine process.

Do you want to retain delicate flavors without adding any preservatives? You may skip both pasteurization and metabisulfite addition.

Go inoculate yeast directly. It’s a hit or miss process that is likely to fail than succeed. And, for the ultimate gamble. Just rely on naturally occurring yeast for spontaneous ferment.

The result might be erratic, but at least, you don’t have the guilt.

Campden tablet is easier to find than metabisulfite. Especially if you are looking at online stores. The two are basically the same but Campden tablet is formulated for wine use.

The maker indicates juice to Campden tablet ratio. For sodium metabisulfite powder, add 5 ml of 10% solution per gallon of juice.

Juice Preparation

1. For juicy fruits

  1. Extract juicy fruits by squeezing with cheesecloth or by passing through any juice extractor.
  2. Then, add three parts of water for every part of juice.
  3. Lessen the water for a stronger flavor.
  4. Don’t add water if you wish.
  5. Putting fruits in a blender is a good option. Likewise, grape must is prepared similarly.
  6. Remove peels and seeds.
  7. Put in blender with three parts of water.
  8. Whir for few minutes.
  9. Proceed.

2. For hard fruits like guava

  1. Chop.
  2. Add one part of water for every part of fruit.
  3. Boil for about 30 minutes.
  4. Set aside the liquid used for boiling.
  5. Subject the softened fruit through a juice extractor or in a blender.
  6. Combine the two liquids.
  7. Proceed.

3. Try using fruit peels

Fruit peels taste differently so do not go adding them all to future batches. Do low volume trials first. Then continue those exhibiting good results.

4. Adjust sugar concentration

Adjust it to 20% for dry wine and to 25% for sweet wine. Add more sugar for a sweeter taste. Do little at a time, stirring and getting the reading with a refractometer. Tabulate data. You can do the next batch faster by using the previous data as a reference.

5. Measure acidity with a pH meter and adjust

Adjust the pH accordingly. It’s a bit confusing at first because the pH will go lower as you add more tartaric acid powder. If it’s a downward trend, then then you’re in the right direction.

Fermentation

Please follow the following steps to ferment.

  1. Transfer the juice to a clean and sterile fermentation bottle, filling only to half capacity.
  2. Add Campden tablet or metabisulfite solution.
  3. Set aside for 24 hours. The chemical needs time to do its job.
  4. Add wine yeast following the instructions set by the manufacturer.
  5. Cover the tank with a prepared or store-bought airlock.
  6. Wait for a moment for bubbling to occur. A sign that yeast is doing its job well. Be patient because it may take longer.
  7. Monitor room temperature and solution temperature.
  8. Include color changes and other noticeable appearance deviations.
  9. Record

An alternative is the use of wine yeast cultures in test tubes, which requires microbiology skills. First-time winemakers without first-hand micro lab training will have a hard time to start.

If there is no bubbling, the yeast might have lost viability. It is good to have a regular fresh yeast and do a 300 -500 ml fermentation trial to assess yeast viability.

Harvesting

Wait 3-4 weeks or until the bubbling stops. Take note that yeast dies of alcohol. Each strain has a different tolerance level. Some can survive as high as 18%.

Regulate alcohol content by mixing high and low ferments. Alternatively, use yeast strain with a specific alcohol target. Or, deactivate the yeast midway, with the heat of course.

Decant, taking care not to disturb the settled solids and the floating scum.

Take it from me. Decanting is easier than getting the mixture hastily and using filter paper to get rid of unwanted solids.

Add extra Campden tablet to compensate for the used up metabisulfite.

Previous and subsequent operations might have introduced microbial contaminants. It is better safe than sorry. If you opt for heat treatment, then do it instead.

Clarification and Aging

You may do the two simultaneously. Store wine without any disturbance to allow the solids to settle. Then, siphon out the clear liquid carefully leaving the rest.

Wine is ready after six months. But, waiting longer develops flavor and pumps the price up. Seeing “10-year-old” labeled wine is common.

1 thought on “How to Make Fruit Wines, A Guide for Starters

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *