How to Make Raspberry Wine
I just started a batch of this the other day. I picked my raspberries right from the woods where I live. If you can get raspberries from a pick-your-own farm or a farmer’s market, I would recommend it. Otherwise, fresh or frozen store-bought raspberries will work just fine.
- 2 pounds raspberries
- 6 pints water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 packet wine yeast
- Put your raspberries in a plastic bag or two. Squeeze and squish them. Your goal is to get as much juice out as possible.
- Set a collander in a bowl large enough to contain the raspberries and the sugar-water. Dump your raspberry juice and raspberry pulp into the collander.
- Take out a spoonful of raspberry juice and put it in a separate container (a glass or cup will work well). Mix a little warm (not hot!) water with it. Add your yeast. This will make a yeast starter.
- Bring water to a boil. Add 1 cup sugar and stir until dissolved. Pour the boiling sugar-water over the raspberries. Using a large spoon, the bottom of a clean cup or bowl, or whatever else you can find, squeeze the raspberries into the collander, getting out as much juice as you can.
- Select a primary fermentation vessel. This could be a glass carboy, a glass or food-grade plastic bottle, or a plastic bucket. Whatever you use, makes sure it’s clean. The best way to ensure proper sanitation is to wash the bottle or bucket with soap and water, rinse away all of the soap, and then rinse it with a weak bleach solution (one cap full of bleach for one gallon of water). When using bleach, make sure you rinse it well. Usually if it still smells of bleach, you need to keep rinsing with cold water.
- By now, your yeast starter should be looking frothy and active! Pour the raspberry juice and sugar-water mixture into your (clean) primary fermentation vessel. This sweet, unfermented mixture is called the “must.”
- Make sure that your must is not too hot. Much over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and you will kill your yeast! I don’t run around my kitchen with a thermometer, so I tend to do the “feel test.” It’s also simpler this way, and I love simple. If it feels hot, it is hot, so wait; it if feels warm, wait a little longer just to be sure.
- Now, add your yeast!
- The next step is up to you: You have your raspberry pulp in the collander, right? You could add that to the must as well. I do! You could choose to add some or all of it. You could also put the pulp in a nylon bag and add that to your must, so that the pulp will be available to the yeast but will be kept separate from the juice. Your choice! Either way, the next steps should ensure that there is no pulp in your final product.
- Affix an airlock to your fermentation container. If you don’t have an airlock, you can use a rubber glove or just some plastic wrap fit tight with a rubber band. If using the rubber glove method (I’ve done this!), it can be really fun to watch the fingers of the glove inflate as the carbon dioxide is released during fermentation. Just be sure to release the pressure by briefly removing the glove, otherwise it’ll blow off!
- Over the next 5-7 days, fermentation will take place. If you’d like, you can stir. I usually stir for the first day or two, mainly out of curiosity, and my insatiable desire to smell it. If you’re using an airlock, you’ll probably stop seeing bubbles in about a week. Rubber glove users, you’ll notice after 5-7 days that you don’t need to “let the air out” of the glove as often.
Racking and Aging
Now you should rack the young wine into another clean container. Racking involves using plastic tubing to siphon the liquid off of the solid sediments that have settled at the bottom of the container.
I’d like to note that, while some wine and cider makers don’t recommend sucking on the end of the siphon tube to get it started, this has always worked just fine for me—just be careful! But you know, I really do love simple. Maybe you don’t have plastic tubes laying around, and don’t feel like going to buy them. In that case, you can basically achieve the same effect by pouring the whole concoction through cheesecloth. A little more crude, but it’ll work in a pinch.
This second bottle is for secondary fermentation. Now let the wine be! You should see more sediment collect at the bottom, but maybe not as much as in the primary fermentation process. After 3-4 weeks, give or take, you should rack the wine into yet another bottle.
At this point, you should sample some! Love it? Then skip the aging process. Want to age your wine? One year is recommended, but I’ll be surprised if it ever lasts that long. Typically, I taste-test every month or so and end up deciding it’s perfect somewhere between 3 and 5 months after I started. But I always try to set aside at least a small portion of every batch to attempt to age for one year.
During the first few months (if you didn’t drink it all yet!) you may need to rack it one or more times, until it “clears” (isn’t cloudy anymore).
And there you have it. Raspberry wine, here you come!