Results of Making Chokecherry Wine

Drum roll please…..

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Well, it’s been about a year since I brewed the chokecherry wine. It needed to sit for a year and I have patiently waited for the final product.  I was nervous because choke cherries are named that for a reason, they are puckeringly sour and a smidge bitter without two tons of sugar.

Friends, those old timers that wrote that recipe knew a thing or two about turning ordinary wild berries into wine to keep the spirits warm for winter.

The initial scent was of yeast and fruit, sweet berries, and summer.  A taste proved similar to meade with a hint of bitter on the end.  Not too shabby, Folks.  Not too shabby.

For the recipe, see my initial blog post here for making Chokecherry Wine.

(Note: Six months after writing this post we served another bottle and it was smoother and more delicious.)

How to Make Chokecherry Wine

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A year from now we’ll have a tasting.  The tiny sip I had of the dregs was delicious.  Not vinegary at all and I am excited to see how it transforms itself in the next year while resting in the back of the closet.  I have wanted to make wine for some time.  It’s been on my Homesteading To-Do List of skills I must learn.  And in homesteading fashion I used what I had…some nice Pinot Noir grapes?  Nope, chokecherries.

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An old recipe in my friend Sandy’s book read as so:

Grind fruit.

Add 1 1/2 parts boiling water to 1 part fruit.  Let stand overnight.

Strain juice and add 3 pounds of sugar to 1 gallon of juice and 1/5 of a package of yeast.

Put in wine thingy (not its exact words) and there you go.

I was stuck on the first part.  Grind the chokecherries (which are mostly pits) with what?  I changed the recipe right off.

I prepared the chokecherries as I do for jam.  Boil in 1 1/2 parts of water until pits are showing and the color is a glorious pink/purple.  Then let set so that the sediment falls to the bottom.  The first batch I set overnight and it is a more vibrant color.  The other is lighter in flavor and color that set only a few hours.

I strained it and true to original recipe added slightly less than a pound of sugar to slightly less than a gallon of juice so that it would fit in the gallon jug I purchased for this event.  I poured it in.

The back of the yeast label said to only use about a 1/5 of a teaspoon for this whole mix so I minded and followed the yeast’s instructions rather than the original recipe.  I added that to the juice and sugar mix and placed the cool looking top on (the gallon jug and top contraption cost me seven dollars).  One pours a smidge of sanitizer into the curvy contraption.  I opted for rum.  I like to know what is possibly dripping into my wine.

I did two batches.  The first one was with the juice mix that sat overnight.  Richer in color and flavor I used brown sugar instead of white and red wine yeast.  The second one I boiled with a slice of ginger and used white sugar, adding a bit more sugar than the other batch, and used Champagne yeast.

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They then sat for six weeks.  The red wine batch bubbled incessantly and really gave a good show while the lighter one bubbled modestly.

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I am indebted to all the folks that work in homebrew stores.  They are your best sources for getting around the world of homebrew without making you feel like a complete idiot.  I could not fathom what I would brew the wine in or how on earth to bottle it or how to keep the air out or….they set me straight and sold me $70 worth of equipment to bottle with.  A dozen old fashioned looking bottles, a siphon, a pump, and a siphon valve.

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Place the siphon valve in the bottle.  This is attached to a tube that leads from the bottle to the gallon jug of fermenting wine.  Attach the end of the tube to the pump and hand pump the wine into the bottle.  I didn’t hold each piece firmly to the bottoms of the bottles so I got more air in than I would like but perhaps it will be more like Champagne…or something.  Once the bottle is full, pull out the siphon valve from the bottle and it leaves the exact space needed in the neck.  Close up the bottle (or insert cork) and let sit for a year.

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There are many books and recipes on how to make wine.  You can make wine out of anything from apples to dandelions.  For an investment of $80 I have seven and half bottles of wine.  I can reuse the bottles, the jugs, and the equipment so next time the cost is limited to the two bucks for yeast.

Now I do need to get a vineyard growing here….