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summersolstice 08-17-2008 12:31 AM

Cherry Wine
Cherry Wine

I had a request for a cherry wine recipe. This is one I've used for a couple of years. I thank my friend Steve for this recipe, tweaked just a little. The recipe makes five gallons.

This really needs to be back sweetened just a little to offset the tartness.

16-18 lbs tart cherries
8 cups sugar, or enough to bring SG up to 1.080-1.085 (11.5% ABV)

1 tbsp bentonite, dissolved in 1/2 c. hot water
1 tbsp pectic enzyme
1 tsp tannin
1 tbsp yeast nutrient
24 oz. dried cranberries (optional)
12 oz. raisins (optional)
2 oz. french oak powder (optional)
1/4 tsp potassium metabisulfite, or 5 crushed campden tablets
1 packet Lalvin 71B-1122 yeast

Do not add these ingredients until called for:

1 package of Super-Kleer KC (do not add until step 2)
2-1/2 tsp. potassium sorbate (step 3)
Additional sulfite or campden tablets (step 3)
2-3 oz. LD Carlson Cherry Flavor Extract (optional - step 3)

My numbers before pitching (yours may vary):

Starting SG: 1.082
Temperature: 71 F


In a 6+ gallon primary bucket, mix the water, bentonite slurry, pectic enzyme, tannin, yeast nutrient, and metabisulfite (or campden) and mix everything real well. Rinse and drain fruit, including the raisins and cranberries (if you use them) put it in a straining bag, if desired, tie the bag shut, and add to primary. Take your initial SG reading and add enough sugar to bring the SG up to 1.080-1.085. I ended up using 8 cups of sugar, but you may have different results.

Optionally, you can also add oak powder at this point. For those who don't care for the taste of oak, it doesn't add a noticeable oakiness, but rather more of a vanilla flavor. I used a good quality french oak powder with medium toast.

Put the lid on the bucket and allow to set overnight. The following morning, move the bucket to a warm room (68-75 degrees) and sprinkle the yeast on top of the juice mixture. Do not stir. Place the lid loosely on the primary.

In a few hours you should see the yeast begin to foam. When the foam covers the entire surface of the juice, stir it in gently.

The bag will float on the surface. Just flip it over a couple of times a day to keep it moist. Check the SG daily. When it reaches 1.000, proceed to Step 2.

Step 2 - Transfer to Secondary. Proceed to this step when SG reaches 1.000 or less

At this point, the wine should no longer be foaming but will still be producing small bubbles. If the wine is still producing considerable foam, leave it for another day or so until the foaming subsides.

With clean hands, gently squeeze out the bag of fruit (if used) and discard. Transfer the contents of the primary to a 5-gallon carboy. Try to avoid transferring the oak powder (if used), but some lees are fine and even desirable at this point. The level of the wine should come at least halfway into the shoulder of the carboy, but not into the neck. If the level is too low, add water to bring it to this level.

Fit an airlock on the top of the carboy. Continue monitoring the SG until it no longer drops further and remains stable for 2-3 days.

To begin clearing process, add packet # 1 (kieselsol) of the Super-Kleer. Stir vigorously for 2-3 minutes. The stirring will cause some foaming and help release trapped carbon dioxide, which will aid in clearing. Add packet # 2 (chitosan) and continue stirring for another minute or two. Top up the wine (with another wine or some water) to within 2 inches of the opening and replace the airlock.

Allow the wine to sit until clear (normally a week to 10 days) before proceeding to Step 3.

Step 3 - Stabilize and Bottle

After a week to 10 days, the wine should be completely clear. You can check this by shining a flashlight through the carboy. You should not see the beam. If it isn't clear, allow it to sit for another week and check again.

Rack the wine into a clean carboy, leaving all of the lees behind. Add 2-1/2 tsp potassium sorbate and 1/4 tsp potassium metabisulfite (or 5 crushed campden tablets) to 1/3 cup of cool water and mix well. Add sorbate/sulfite mixture to the wine and stir.

If you plan on sweetening the wine (recommended), you can make up sugar syrup as follows. For each 1% residual sugar of sweetness desired, add 1 cup of sugar to 1/2 cup of wine in a small saucepan. Heat on low, stirring constantly until sugar is completely dissolved. Allow to cool and stir into finished wine.

If you prefer a stronger cherry flavor, you can also add 2-3 ounces of LD Carlson cherry extract.

The wine may be filtered (optional) and bottled at this point. However, if you are not bottling immediately, top up the carboy and replace the airlock.

BigKahuna 08-17-2008 01:05 AM

That Looks very good. Revvy and I were just discussing last night the potential complexity that Raisins and Dried Cranberries could lend to a pear wine we're working on.
Have you had variations both with and without? I'm looking for confirmation that they do in fact add a lot without adding "Cranberry Flavor"

summersolstice 08-17-2008 01:46 PM

I've had variations of several wines with and without raisins and I've found that raisins do indeed add considerably to a finished wine. It adds mouthfeel and contributes to the fullness of the wine, even in a lower end wine kit. Bananas affect wine in a similar fashion (frozen,thawed - peel and all). White grape (Niagara) concentrate is also a very good addition to lighter fruit wines and meads.

Although I've tried the dried cranberries, I haven't tried the same wine with and without so I can't say one way or another if there's an advantage. However, I do know that the addition of other fruits (dried, fresh, and juice) adds a level of complexity.

Scallywag 05-13-2009 12:28 AM

It looks delicious. I reviewed the recipe and must have missed what kind of juice you use.

summersolstice 05-13-2009 11:54 AM

I guess it isn't too clear, is it? This isn't a juice recipe - I used three and a half pounds of fresh frozen cherries for each gallon of water to make a 5 gallon batch. I'll edit the post to make it clearer.

noisy123 07-07-2009 01:39 PM

The recipe looks really good. I have just finished pitting 100 lbs of tart cherries. Sheesh. Its not clear to me how the cherries should be prepared for this recipe. Should they be mashed, or blended in a blender? Should I include the cherries in the straining bag you refer to above? Thanks much for the recipe and help.

summersolstice 07-07-2009 01:47 PM


Originally Posted by noisy123 (Post 1418635)
The recipe looks really good. I have just finished pitting 100 lbs of tart cherries. Sheesh. Its not clear to me how the cherries should be prepared for this recipe. Should they be mashed, or blended in a blender? Should I include the cherries in the straining bag you refer to above? Thanks much for the recipe and help.

I hate to tell you this now that the work's finished but there's really no need to pit the cherries. As for the fruit preparation, freeze them and then thaw. Squeeze them with your hands either before or after placing them in the straining bag.

noisy123 07-07-2009 02:48 PM

Its ok. I am making a kriek, jelly, and pies (I think I'll be pretty sick of them soon).

noisy123 07-11-2009 03:06 PM

Am I supposed to add water besides the 1/2 cup? I don't think there is 5 gallons worth of juice in there.
Thanks for the help.

summersolstice 07-12-2009 03:48 AM

Add water to 5 gallons

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