Right-on wine: Dry-hopping your wine kit

Hops spilling out from glass

Written by Paula Goddard

Paula started her home-made beer and country wine journey in the 1990s when she won the Tunbridge Wells Wine Circle Brookside Novices’ Cup, Ladies Trophy, E&R Jubilee Bowl and Wells Trophy. Which matched her move from the research team at a food packaging manufacturer and deciding to be more involved with the food inside the packaging while beginning teaching food and drink courses at adult education colleges. Tea tasting expanded into popular wine courses that were regularly over-subscribed. She now runs online wine courses with Buckinghamshire Adult Learning, and tasting events through her own wine website wineuncorked.co.uk. You’ll find her on social media dispensing tips, views and wine reviews as @wineuncorkeduk

14 March 2022

The homebrew wine world often reflects what’s going on in vineyard-made wines. And that’s infusing hops in finished white wines: dry-hopping them in a similar way to beer to add complementary fruity pineapple and lemon aromas.

Infusing your made wine with hops doesn’t add that well-known characteristic of hops – their bitter flavours – as these only come out with a boiling process. Boiling is part of the beer making process but not for wine.

What wines are dry-hopped?

A German winemaker dry-hopped their Riesling with Eukanot hops, while another infused Citra hops into a white wine made with the Muller-Thurgau grape variety (and also released a dry-hopped red and rosé to complete the mix). In American the Michigan Wine Company has made a slightly sweet tasting white wine made with the spicy tasting Seyval white grape variety and infused it with Citra hops for two weeks.

It’s fizzing over here

London’s Renegade Urban Brewery makes a hop-infused sparkling white wine called Bethnal Bubbles made with the juice from Pinot Noir grapes grown in Herefordshire and infused with three hop types – Sabro, Citra and Mosaic. Adding 10 grammes/litre of whole hop flowers provides the wanted hoppy aromas before the wine undergoes secondary fermentation in the bottle to add the sparkle (just as French Champagne and Spanish Cava wines do to get their wines’ fizziness). Renegade’s owner Warwick Smith warns against using the Galaxy hop in wine as it can add unpleasant aromas but a mix that includes Mosaic adds a touch of pineapple aroma to the wine.

Home winemakers are doing it too

An American winemaking club reports dry hopping a white wine made with Riesling grapes and infusing it with a very large 50 grammes/litre of five different hop types and describes the experiment as a “success.

Want to have a go?

Start by choosing and making a white wine kit:

And then infusing the finished wine with Citra, Mosaic or Sabro hop pellets for 2-3 days:

The choice of hop pellets means you use much less than with whole hops – at a rate of five-times less, adding about 2 grammes of hop pellets per litre of wine. So in a 4.5-litre demijohn used to ferment a six-bottle wine kit, add 9 grammes of your choice of hop pellets which is about 2 teaspoons or 8 actual pellets give or take a bit.

Suspend the hop pellets in a muslin bag (£1.40 for 2) within your demijohn, making sure they are completely immersed in the finished wine. You could also use a stainless-steel tea ball which, as its name implies, more usually sits inside your cup of just-boiled water and is filled with tea leaves to make a refreshing cuppa but repurpose it here for your home wine making.

If you’re thinking this is all a bit too modern and too right-on trend for your home winemaking then take a look the C.J.J. Berry’s reprinted 1987 classic book First Steps in Winemaking (£7.99) which has a recipe for Metheglin – a hop and spice-infused traditional mead (wine made with honey) with an imperial 1 oz (equivalent to 25 grammes) dissolved in the honey and ginger brew. He also has a similar recipe for Hop Wine, replacing the mead’s honey with granulated sugar and grape juice concentrate.

For more on hops take a look at Hops Under The Microscope

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