Blackberries are one of our favourite berries in the UK, we can all remember picking them as a child with abandonment; stained dark red face, red smeared hands and clothing. It is the one berry we will happily eat almost wherever we find it.
The first step of any great country wine is the foraging! And foraging for blackberries is a notoriously hazardous affair. You have the constant buzz of flies, stinging nettles and our fave, the vicious bramble thorns; but it’s these hazards that make the wine at the end taste so much sweeter.
What to consider when picking
- Wear a thick, long-sleeved shirt, and trousers rather than shorts – You can always get the tan later.
- Have one glove to hold the stem or to hold the brambles out of the way.
- Several baskets, as a good haul of blackberries, can lead to half dozen baskets full!
- Always leave some for the birds.
Choosing the right berries
I am sure you have noticed when you have been out foraging in the past that blackberries come in all shapes, sizes and taste. They can be small and sweet, large and juicy, early season or late… Well the reason is, I have been told, is that there are actually over 300 micro-species in the UK alone.
What do we take away from this? Experiment with picking in different locations, as soil, other plants and the particular species will all add different flavours. Once you have found your ‘sweet spot’ then stick to it. Come back each year and grab the same crop.
Making the Wine
What you need
- 2Kg of Blackberries
- 4.5 Liters boiling water
- 1.4kg Brewing sugar
- 1x Potato Masher
- 1x Funnel
- 2x 10L Fermentation Bucket
- 1x Thermometer
- 1x Syphon
- 1x Plastic Paddle for stirring
- 1x Hydrometer (Test fermentation and alcohol level)
- 1x Red wine yeast – Burgundy
- 1x Sachet yeast nutrient
- 1x Tsp Pectolase
- 1x Sachet Wine
- 2x Muslin Bags
- 6x Corks or screw caps (Ideally corks)
- VWP Steriliser or equivalent
- 6x Wine Bottles (Reused or new)
- Optional – 1x Demijohn instead of a bucket (It just looks more authentic)
- Using one of your buckets, dissolve 1 tsp of steriliser in your 10L bucket with max 4 litres of warm water.
- Sterilise your bin, wiping the sides and the lid with a soft sponge (to avoid scratching the sides with anything abrasive). Sterilise your paddle, thermometer and hydrometer as well.
- Make sure you have thoroughly sterilised all surfaces that will come into contact with the wine. Infection is one of the main reasons for bad homebrew.
- Put your 2kg of blackberries in your sterilised fermenting bucket. At this point, I like to get in there with my hands, to squish up the blackberries and feel all the flavour explode out of their skins. Obviously, this can get a bit messy so you can use a masher instead.
- Pour over your boiling water and give it a thorough stir, spend 2-5 minutes to ensure fully mixed.
- Add your 1.4kg of brewing sugar, stirring until fully dissolved.
- Place the lid loosely on the bucket, don’t clip it down. Leave to cool to 20 degrees centigrade.
- Optional: To speed this process you can put the bucket in a sink of ice.
- Once cooled, take a hydrometer reading (read this guide on how to take a hydrometer reading), and record this for later.
- Stir in the
pectolase, yeast and yeast nutrient.
- Replace the lid and leave somewhere warm (aim to maintain approx. 20C) for 7 days. Each day
givethe wine a stir with a sterilised spoon.
- After 7 days scold your muslin bags in boiling water, and sterilise your syphon and bucket/demijohn.
- Using the muslin bag and funnel, strain the wine into the other bucket to remove the sediment.
- Again replace the lid and now leave in a cool place 16 C – 20 C and allow the fermentation to complete. This will take about 4 weeks.
- You will know the fermentation is complete when you take two
successsivehydrometer readings in a 48 hour period and it shows the same result.
- Once fermentation is complete, transfer into the sterilised fermentation bucket and
addwine finings to clear the wine.
- Leave for one week to clear. Move it somewhere slightly cooler if you can.
Stage 4 – Bottling!
- Taste the wine. If you would like to sweeten and add body, add some Red Grape Juice Concentrate a tablespoon at a time until you get the right flavour.
- Sterilise your syphon and wine bottles (Need a bottle washer and rack? Makes the whole process a lot easier.)
- Transfer your wine to your bottles. Leave 1 inch at the top.
- Cork all your bottles.
- Leave for ideally 6 months to mature, but you could get away with a month or maybe less.
Stage 5 – When ready, Drink and Enjoy with friends
Once you have made your first batch of blackberry wine we are convinced you will be hooked on country winemaking. Maybe check out some of our other wine recipes.
Buy the kit?
Grab one of our Country Wine Starter Kits. They have everything you need to create this and many other country wines time and time again!