Blackcurrants are sometimes described as the 'forgotten fruit'. A traditional British favourite, they are nowadays often unfairly overlooked in favour of other berries. Yet they are an extremely versatile fruit, bringing a delicious sweet sharpness to tarts, cakes, buns, puddings, and jam. They also have many health benefits, since they're packed with antioxidants and Vitamin C (four times as much as oranges!).
Your childhood memories of blackcurrants may revolve around chugging back Ribena, but for a more grown-up tipple, have you thought about upgrading to blackcurrant wine?
A batch of blackcurrant wine is a fantastic way to make the most of your summer harvest. As well as being good for you, blackcurrants are sharp, tart and juicy, making them one of the best fruits for wine.
Below we talk you through the kit you'll need, and step-by-step instructions for making blackcurrant wine at home. Wine-making is both a science and an art, so after your first time you might want to experiment to find your perfect recipe!
Find your blackcurrants
Blackcurrants are easy to grow in large quantities in your garden, with an established single bush able to produce between 4-6 kg of fruit a year. It's worth thinking about planting a bush just for wine!
They're not commonly sold in supermarkets, but you may find them in a higher-end supermarket (like Waitrose) during the summer.
Finally you can find them at pick-your-own farms up and down the UK, which makes a great family day out. The ripest berries possible are the best for wine. Blackcurrants also freeze extremely well, so stock up in July and August to make wine all year round!
What you need to make blackcurrant wine
- 900g of Blackcurrants
- 3.8L of boiling water
- 1kg of Brewing sugar
- 1 x Potato Masher
- 1 x Funnel
- 1 x 10L Fermentation Bucket
- 1 x Demijohn
- 1 x Thermometer
- 1 x Syphon
- 1 x Plastic Paddle or spoon for stirring
- 1 x Hydrometer (optional – to test fermentation and alcohol level)
- 1 x Red wine yeast – Burgundy
- 1 x Sachet yeast nutrient
- 1 x Tsp Pectolase
- 1 x Sachet Wine Finings (Vin Clear)
- 2 x Muslin Bags
- 6 x Corks
- VWP Steriliser or equivalent
- 6 x Wine Bottles (reused or new). These should be dark glass rather than clear, to preserve the colour.
The list may seem long, but once you have the set-up it can be used again and again to make different wines – just a few gallons is a great return on your investment! Our Country Wine Starter Kit includes everything you need.
Blackcurrant wine recipe
Stage 1 – Mashing
- Dissolve 1 tsp of steriliser in the 10L bucket with 4 litres of warm water.
- Sterilise your bin, masher, hydrometer and anything else that will come into contact with the wine. Infection is one of the main reasons for bad homebrew.
- To prepare the blackcurrants, pick out any mouldy or damaged blackcurrants and remove the leaves and the stems. Rinse them well. If you're using frozen blackcurrants, thaw them first (which will actually give you a head start in releasing the juices, compared to fresh).
- Put the blackcurrants in your sterilised fermenting bucket and mash them with the masher.
- Dissolve the sugar in the boiling water.
- Pour the boiling water over the blackcurrants and stir well.
- Cool the water to room temperature.
- Mix in the pectolase (which stops the fruit making your wine cloudy), yeast and yeast nutrient.
- Cover and leave somewhere warm (approx. 20C) for 5-7 days. Stir the wine twice a day with a sterilised spoon.
Stage 2 – Fermentation
- After 5-7 days sterilise your syphon and bucket/demijohn. Rinse your muslin in hot water.
- Strain the wine through the muslin into the other bucket/ demijohn to remove the sediment. You may need help for this part! Leave around 3 cm at the top to allow fermentation.
- Re-cover and leave in a cool place 16 C – 20 C and leave for about a month to allow the fermentation to complete. If the wine is still producing air bubbles, then it is still fermenting and you need to leave it a little longer.
- Pro tip: If you have a hydrometer, you can use this to check whether the fermentation is complete. Two identical hydrometer readings in a 48 hour period means the process is complete.
Stage 3 – Racking
- You now need to remove the sediment from the wine (known as 'racking'). Transfer the wine (without the sediment) into the sterilised fermentation bucket using the syphon and add wine finings to clear the wine. Return the wine to the demijohn.
- Re-sterilise the bung and fit tightly. Leave in a cool, dark place for six months.
Stage 4 – Bottling
- Now it's time to bottle your wine! Sterilise your syphon and wine bottles.
- Transfer your wine to your bottles, leaving 1 inch at the top.
- Cork all your bottles and label them with the fruit and bottling date (it's surprisingly easy to forget!).
- Ideally, leave in the wine rack for 6 months to mature, as blackcurrant wine definitely improves with age.
Stage 5 – Success!
When the wine is ready, have some friends over to drink and enjoy! Blackcurrant wine is a lovely dessert wine, especially for the cheeseboard. Like a fruity medium-bodied red wine, it also pairs wonderfully with red meat.
Once you have made your first batch of fruit wine, there are so many more possibilities to try! For the autumn, why not check out our blackberry wine recipe?