Thursday, August 20, 2009

Plum Wine

When I was making wine, and that was a while ago, and the Italian prune plum tree in my Dad's backyard that I gathered the fruit from is also long gone, I made it from this recipe. This comes from a book called Over 200 Wine Recipes for the Home Winemaker, by C.F. Lord, which I believe was published and sold in Coles bookstores (again long before they became a Chapters, or Indigo-Chapters - when they were the World's Biggest Bookstore). What it made was a dry plum wine, my favourite, very tasty. To a winemaker, I don't need to explain the ingredients, but perhaps they have improved or found better alternatives since 1980 when this book was written. The Benerva, or vitamin B1, is an important growth factor for yeast; pectic enzyme breaks down the natural pectin of the fruit, otherwise the wine will be hazy; ammonium phosphate is a good source of nitrogen for the wine yeast; potassium phosphate is also a growth factor for the yeast, but is optional because there usually is enough of it in the ingredients you are making the wine from; magnesium sulphate, or food-grade Epsom salts, is a source of magnesium, an important growth factor for yeast, but might be optional depending on your water source; succinic acid helps the wine form esters which give it extra flavour and vinosity, but this is optional as it requires two years maturing time if used. The boiling water assists in colour extraction and with the later pulp fermentation will produce quite a deep colour. I'm not going to give any primers on winemaking, it's been a while since I've made any myself, just suffice it to say, that this makes a very tasty and satisfying fruit wine and is fairly easy to achieve a dry wine.

Plum Wine
1 tablet Benerva (3 mg vitamin B1)
1 tsp pectic enzyme powder
1 tsp ammonium phosphate powder
1/2 tsp potassium phosphate (optional)
1/4 tsp magnesium sulphate (Epsom salts) (optional)
1/4 tsp succinic acid (optional)
2 kg plums
140 mL grape concentrate
1-1/4 kg sugar
wine yeast
water to 1 gallon

Prepare yeast starter in a wine bottle with the grape concentrate, 420 mL of water and the yeast. Plug bottle with cotton wool and stand in a warm place (24C/75F). When starter is active, wash plums and place in a plastic bucket and crush with a block of wood. Add 3360 mL of boiling water and 1 Campden tablet. Cover and add remaining ingredients and yeast starter 24 hours later. Ferment on plums for 4 days, and once a day (with clean hands), extract as many plum stones from the must as possible. After 4 days, strain off must from pulp into a gallon jar, top up with cold water and ferment to dryness under an airlock.

Add 1 Campden tablet and rack into another jar 3 days later. Rack again after two weeks if a heavy pulp sediment forms. Otherwise, mature for 9 months with rackings each 3 months, topping up the jar with with water each time and adding 1 Campden tablet.

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