Since we were out of homemade wine, I looked around on our terrain to see what options I had. And I saw beautiful red fat rosehips. Rosehip wine!? Yes, everything is possible! Wine is just fermented juice so anything you can make juice of, you can make wine with.
I’m not a professional wine maker and to be honest I even never made wine from the most common thing to make wine with: the grape. I only made fruit wines, berry wines and flower wines. Most of them delicious, some disastrous. My first dandelion flower wine was horrible but the second and third time I got a beautiful light white wine with a hint of spring dandelion on the back of my tongue :-). My plum wine was great for 3 years in a row, but every year it was a completely different wine. Wine from blackberries and elderberries is always delicious, and when I add a bit more sugar the elderberry wine is like port. In the year that we had many kilos of peaches from our trees, I made a delicious sweet desert wine.
Rosehips are best picked at the end of fall or in early winter, because a night of frost makes them sweeter. But if you’re in a hurry, pick them when they are red and put them in the freezer overnight.
You might think that it is more macho to pick them without gloves, but please try fingertip-less gloves or wrist warmers at least! Picking rosehips hurts.
Making wine with rosehips
I asked my best friend Google and found some useful rosehip wine recipes. Some of the recipes told me to crush the rosehips softly and others said to boil the hips for 5 minutes to make them softer. Not longer than 5 minutes because otherwise it’s hard to clear the wine. But because after the boiling you have to puree the hips and take the seeds out, I thought the crushing-recipes would be much easier.
So I chose the easiest recipe I could find:
1,5 kg rosehips
1 kg sugar
1 teaspoon citric acid|
3,5 liter water
Take the ends off the rosehips and wash them. Crush them softly (don’t crush the seeds). Put them into a 5 liter fermentation vessel, add the sugar and pour on 3,5 liters of boiling water. Stir until all the sugar has dissolved. Let it cool to 20-25C before you add the wine yeast.
If you’re using a 5 liter bottle, you can close it with a water lock or with some cotton balls. The purpose is to let the air out but no fruit flies in.
Put it in a warm room (kitchen?), 18-20 degrees Celcius, for about 10 days, giving the mixture a good stir each day. After a few days, when it is fermenting, you should stir it 2 or 3 times a day to prevent the wine from turning acidic.
After 10 days, filter your pulp and strain off the liquid into another clean, sterilized 5 liter bottle, topping up to if necessary. Fit an airlock (or cotton balls) and allow fermenting out.
After 2 to 3 months, use a tube to siphon the liquid over to a new, clean bottle and throw away the sediment in the “old” one.
Allow the wine to mature for a minimum of three months before bottling.
Making wine is easy*
So, how hard was that! Fruits, sugar, water, yeast and time. The hardest part is probably having the patience to wait for the maturing.
Wine yeast you can buy in the super market (in the middle & south of Europe), in an agricultural shop or on the internet.
I also made wines without adding wine yeast, but there is a chance that it turns sour. When you start the fermenting process quickly, other micro organisms don’t have a chance to ruin your wine.
* Of course there are many advanced techniques and tools, not to mention problems and “diseases” to make the process of making wine very difficult. But the wines that I make are simple, easy & delicious, I usually make 10 or 20 liter batches and it’s not the end of my world when something goes wrong.
I usually siphon my wines about 3 times: after 1, 3 and 5 months. The first time depends on the fermenting process. When it stops fermenting or when I think my wine has enough alcohol, I start siphoning.
Tomato port, stinging nettle wine and carrot sherry
These crazy wines are on my wish list; I didn’t make them yet. But what I did make, with great result, is elderflower champagne. A beautiful sparkling deliciously refreshing summer wine from the earliest blossoms in April. It was such a nice surprise to drink the first glass on a warm summers day!
Also very nice was my peach wine. I wasn’t able to clear it (too much pectin? Or too much starch in the wine?) so it looked like juice, but this was delicious juice to get very drunk with!
You can make fruit wine with almost all kinds of fruits (including tomatoes), even dried or canned fruits. If you make a flower wine: don’t wash the flowers because you’ll wash off all the good. With most berries it’s best to make a port like wine: add more sugar and let the fruits, ferment longer.
For me the best part in making wine is that I can drink organic, tax free wines that are impossible to get in a store. And that gives my wines an excellent taste!