The Secrets to Making Fruit Wine at Home

Fruit wine is a great way to use up the fruit harvest this season.

| July/August 2013

Country Wines

Country wine can be made with practically any fruit, including pears.

Photo By Fotolia/Christian Jung

Your peach trees are sagging from the weight of their fruit, but your pantry still has several jars of canned peaches from last year’s harvest. What can you do when your fruit trees — or bushes or vines — yield more than you plan to eat fresh, preserve, or sell at market? That’s easy: Just make fruit wine.

Wines made from fruit other than grapes are frequently called country wines. To understand how to make country wine, it pays to first understand why most commercial wines are made from grapes.

Grape wines are made by crushing grapes and adding yeast to the juice (or, in the case of red wines, the juice and grape skins). The yeast converts the sugar in the juice into alcohol and carbon dioxide through a process called fermentation.

Grapes are well suited to this because quality wine grapes contain everything needed to make wine. Good grapes contain enough sugar that creates a preservative level of alcohol when the wine ferments. They also have sufficient acid to balance the sweetness of the wine. Additionally, ideal wine grapes supply just enough tannin to add a bit of astringency — a slight puckering feel in the mouth — which adds to the enjoyment of the beverage. This characteristic is called structure, and many wines (especially reds) are aged in oak barrels to add more tannin structure.

The “problem” with making wine from fruit other than grapes is that most fruits do not have the correct ratio of sugar, acid and tannin to make great wine. The straightforward solution to this is to simply add whatever is lacking of those three to the unfermented juice prior to fermentation.

Nothing in the winemaking process can turn bad fruit into good wine, or even average fruit into good wine. Great wine comes from great fruit, so don’t use country wines as a way to dispose of inedible fruit and expect good results.

8/23/2013 2:22:59 PM

My wife and I are just starting out with growing our own fruits and vegetables, and we were wondering if anyone could direct us to a easy and low cost way to build our own Greenhouses and planting/work benches inside the greenhouses.

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