Making strawberry wine is one way of using up the excess of berries brought back from that tempting Pick Your Own farm day out. And although the recipe is easy to follow, the resulting delicately flavoured rosé wine has to be treated with care if it isn’t to fade its colour and oxidise all the taste away.
Keep it clear
Clear glass bottles and demijohns will not protect the wine from the fading properties of strong sunlight or constant exposure to electric lighting. Defy convention and bottle the finished wine in green wine bottles to stop those pesky UV rays getting through, and also protect the fermenting brew by wrapping the glass demijohn in a clean towel or brown paper if you have it.
Commercially made rosé wines can suffer similar fates if left too long on the shelves as although the clear glass wine bottles enable us to buy with our eyes, that pretty colour can succumb to what is known as ‘light strike’ where bright lights can break down the wine inside into a stinky mess. So avoid the rosé that’s been on the shelf too long – tell-tale dust settled on the bottle shoulder is another give-away.
Treat your own homemade country rosé with care all the way through the wine making process and add a crushed Campden tablet at the start of the fermentation process and at every racking afterwards (see blog Height Advantage: Wine racking made easy) to stop oxygen breaking down the lovely strawberry aromas and flavours in your wine.
Ferment the fruit or eat it?
Start by dissolving granulated sugar with two kettles of boiling water in your clean plastic fermentation bucket – use 1kg (2 ¼ lb) of sugar if you want a dry style strawberry rosé, or 1.3kg (3 lb) for a medium-sweet result. Wait for it to cool and stir in 1 teaspoon of citric acid plus 1 teaspoon of pectic enzyme and 0.5 teaspoon of powdered tannin.
Put 2kg (4 lb) of freshly picked really ripe strawberries (remove the green leafy part from the top of each fruit) into a muslin straining bag which sits inside the plastic fermentation bin – ensuring fruit and bag is low enough in the bucket to be in the sugar solution. Then sprinkle a crushed Campden tablet onto the fruit and mash the whole lot up with your hands or use a potato masher.
Put the lid on the bucket and leave for 24 hours. Then stir in your choice of yeast and yeast nutrient and pop the lid back on.
Take a peek
But you’ll be wanting to know what’s going on won’t you? So when you lift the lid each day to take a look also give the fruit a stir with a long handled plastic spoon.
After a week the wine will be ready to strain. Do this by lifting the straining bag and allowing the liquid to drain into the bottom of the fermentation bucket (see blog Fruits of the Freezer Wine for tips on how to do this) and then pouring into a demijohn. Top up the demijohn with cold boiled water to just below the bottom of the glass neck and then fit a bung and airlock.
Keep the demijohn in a dark place or wrap in a towel and come back in a month. You’ll need to rack the finished wine off the surprisingly large amount of sediment into another demijohn at this point. Keep for at least another month before bottling and then enjoy.
Summer Strawberry Rosé recipe
(makes 1 gallon/4.5-litres and fills one demijohn and then 6 wine bottles)
2kg (4 lb) freshly picked really ripe strawberries
1kg (2 ¼ lb) granulated sugar or 1.3kg (3 lb) for a medium-sweet result
1 teaspoon citric acid
1 teaspoon pectic enzyme
½ teaspoon tannin powder
1 teaspoon yeast nutrient
Wine yeast (use Mangrove Jack’s CY17 or general wine yeast)
3 ½ litres (6 pints) boiling water