Blackberries are one of the easiest fruits to forage for, many of us picked them of local hedgerows as children. While delicious fresh, another great use for your fresh fruit is making homemade blackberry wine.
This sumptuous fruit wine is the perfect way to use up a huge crop of fresh berries, to break out at Christmas, or any time you feel like it!
We’re here to share this delicious blackberry wine recipe, as well as some interesting information about this sumptuous summer wine.
Unlike Moscato wine, which originates from Italy, blackberry wine is drunk in the French Alpa and Pyrenees as an “apres-ski” delight.
The main flavors in blackberry wine combine the sharp kick of alcohol with the sweet tang of the blackberries, this fresh fruit wine is the perfect winter treat.
Let’s jump in and find out about the whole process, from fermentation to bottling, to make mouth-watering homemade blackberry wine.
How to make Blackberry Wine?
Step 1: Gathering the Ingredients
Of course, you can buy a few punnets of fresh blackberries from your local grocery store, but we think any fruit wine tastes much better when you forage for the product yourself. Hit up all the local hedgerows and gather as many of these sweet, juicy, purple berries as you can find.
Things to keep in mind:
- When selecting your fruit, keep an eye out for plump berries with a deep black color. If you see red or purple berries, they aren’t ripe yet so leave them behind. Using underripe berries will ruin the taste of this sweet dessert wine, so select only the best fruit.
- Smaller underripe blackberries sometimes look like raspberries, but don’t be fooled- these berries are sour and could even make you feel sick. A ripe berry will pull free from the blackberry plant with only a slight tug, any more effort required and you should leave the fruit on the branch.
- There are hundreds of different species of blackberry worldwide, but a few main types are commonly seen in our gardens and hedgerows. As well as the variety, other factors such as sunlight can affect the taste and sweetness of your blackberry crop.
- If you feel your fruit is a little too sour or bitter, don’t be afraid to add extra sugar to sweeten the mix. About 100g grams of granulated sugar should do the trick. Like the best red and white sweet wines, your homemade blackberry wine will be a delicious sugary treat.
Blackberry picking tip: If you’re foraging on a well-used trail, or alongside a public road, you may want to avoid berries on the lower branches. If you’re in a popular dog-walking area, there’s a chance these berries have been “watered” by passing pups. Either way, it’s always best to thoroughly wash your produce before using it.
What to use for fermentation?
- We recommend using a red wine yeast for your blackberry wine, as opposed to regular wine yeast. We prefer this option as it really enhances the rich hue of your homemade wine, as well as contributing towards a fuller taste.
- You’ll need to check out the specific instructions on your brand for quantities to add to the recipe, and of course, you can use regular wine yeast if you prefer.
- You have the option to add a pectin enzyme to your homemade fruit wine, which helps break down the solid pieces of fruit during fermentation. We like to use a pectic enzyme as it makes straining and bottling easier later on, and you get more out of your fruit too.
- Citric acid or lemon juice can also be added, this simply depends on your personal taste. Campden tablets are often added to homemade wine as a sterilization measure, in order to prevent your delicious wine from turning to vinegar. When making wine from fresh fruit, the standard is to add one Campden tablet per gallon of fresh wine.
Here’s the full ingredients list for our blackberry wine recipe (makes 1 gallon, 6 bottles):
- 3.5 pounds of fresh blackberries
- 1 tsp pectin enzyme (optional)
- 2.5 pounds of white granulated sugar
- 1 Campden tablet (optional)
- 1 tsp of yeast nutrient
- Red wine yeast (amount according to package)
- 1 tsp red wine enzyme
- 1 tsp citric acid or lemon juice (optional)
- Water, to make up to 1 gallon
Step 2: Equipment You’ll Need
When brewing some blackberry wine, you’ll need some specialist winemaking equipment. Novice winemakers might already have most of this basic gear, and if you’re trying to get into winemaking then we recommend starting to build up a collection of basic supplies.
None of this equipment is specialized for making blackberry wine, so you can use your new purchases to make all manner of delicious homebrews.
You will need:
- A food-grade sterilized fermenting (brewing) bin -1 gallon
- 2 glass demijohns -1 gallon plus
- Simply fitted airlock and bung
- Nylon straining bag
- Vinyl siphon tube – minimum length of 3 feet
- Glass wine bottles, with twist tops or with corker and corks
- Plastic funnel
For your fermenting container, you can use a specialized brewing bin, but you don’t need to buy one especially for this purpose. A large food-grade plastic storage container or bucket will be the trick, look for one with a capacity of five gallons.
Instead of buying a winemaking fermentation container, you can save a lot of money with a cheap but functional plastic box. Your glass demijohns need to have a capacity of over one gallon, to allow for a little extra room during the fermentation process.
Step 3: Preparing the Blackberries
Now you’ve gathered your fruit, as well as the other ingredients and equipment, it’s time to get started preparing your blackberries, to turn them into delicious homemade wine.
Pests to look out for:
- If you’ve freshly foraged your fruit for yourself, try to clean the fruit as soon as possible. Fresh blackberries are likely to contain a few bugs and insects, it’s just a part of making your own wine. However, you don’t want flies or caterpillars to make it to your final brew, so properly clean the fruit before starting the winemaking process.
- If you’re careful when gathering your fruit, you can avoid the majority of bugs such as larvae, weevils, and other microscopic pests. Most of these unwanted additions to your brew prefer over-ripe, slightly rotten, and generally spoiled berries.
- Luckily, you want to avoid these berries altogether when foraging, but unfortunately, there are a few critters that prefer ripe berries. Caterpillars and vinegar flies can ruin otherwise desirable berries, so watch out for them and try to get to the blackberries as soon as they’re ripe.
Process of preparation of Blackberries:
- Firstly, sift through your crop and pick out any imperfect berries. You’ll need to discard any blackberries that might have made it into your bucket before they’re fully ripe. Tough and underripe blackberries, as well as overripe and mushy berries, should be picked out before washing.
- Soak your gathered berries in a large sink (or tub) of clean water for about 10 minutes. Any creepy crawlies should float to the top, so you can easily dispose of them. Clean and rinse all your blackberries fully, then transfer them into your chosen brewing container.
- Make sure your bin or tub is fully clean and sterilized at this point, as once you add the berries, there’s no going back. You can crush the clean and prepared berries slightly in their container, to release some of their juices.
Now you’re ready to start the process of making your own delicious homemade blackberry wine.
Step 4: Brewing your Blackberries
So, you should now have a large sterile container filled with 3.5mlbs of slightly crushed blackberries.
- Start by adding 1.1 liters of boiling water to the mix, and stir carefully. Stirring will maximize the amount of juice you pull from your berries, as well as separating out any last remaining bits of dirt and bugs.
- Wait for the mixture to cool, then add one teaspoon of pectin enzyme. Pectin is a substance found in fruit which helps it to hold its structure, it’s added to products like jam to help it set. In fruit wines, pectin can cause the end result to have a haze, so your brew won’t be fully clear. To avoid a hazy wine, pectic enzymes are added to the brew to reduce the amount of pectin.
- Leave the mixture to stand for at least 12 hours before moving on.
- Next, boil another 1.4 liters of clean water. Dissolve the 2 and a half pounds of sugar in this hot water while continuously stirring, until all the sugar is incorporated.
- Add this mix to your blackberry brew, and again stir it well. After your blackberry mix has cooled once more, you can add in the final ingredients before fermentation begins.
- The final addition to your homemade blackberry wine brew is the yeast nutrient and wine yeast. We recommend using red wine yeast, which will convert the fruit sugars in your blackberries into that all-important alcohol. The yeast also produces carbon dioxide during this process, which is released as a gas.\
- Check out our article on degassing homemade wine for more information on this process.
- The other addition at this time is a teaspoon of yeast nutrients. These simply help the wine yeast along in the fermentation process, helping you attain a more complete and rapid result.
Your homebrew is now ready for fermenting!
You’ll need to store your brew bin in darkness for 5 days, stirring the mixture every day. The ideal temperature during this process is around 21 degrees Celcius, or 70 Fahrenheit. This is about room temperature, so a store cupboard in your home is the ideal place to ferment your fruit wine.
It’s important that you don’t let the temperature get too low during fermentation, as this could stop the yeast from working, and negatively affect the final product.
Step 5: The Fermentation Process
- During the process of fermentation, the blackberries in your brew will break down into a strong liquid.
- After 5 days of fermenting, you’ll need to judge the viscosity of your mix. If you find it to still be thick and jam-like, an extra few days of fermentation will break down the blackberries further. When your brew is fluid in its entirety, then primary fermentation is complete.
Tip: Waiting until your mixture is fully liquefied is recommended, as it produces better-tasting wine.
- Once you’re happy with the consistency, it’s time to put your wine through the strainer. You’ll need to filter out as many seeds and as much sediment as possible. Stretch your straining bag or muslin bag over a sterile pot or container, even a plastic bucket will do, and pour in all the blackberry wine liquid.
- Squeeze the bag to get out as much juice as possible. If you aren’t happy with the result, you can repeat the straining process as many times as you’d like.
- Now that the primary fermentation is complete, it’s time to transfer your brew into a glass demijohn.
Demijohns, or carboys, are bulbous narrow-necked bottles that are used to bottle your wine while it continues to ferment. You might need to ask a friend to help with this step, as to be stable you’ll need to hold the glass demijohn, plastic funnel, and container of wine at the same time.
- Fill up your demijohn carefully with blackberry wine. If there’s still a little room in the bottle, top it off with bottled or filtered water.
- Put the rubber bung in the demijohn to seal it off, and secure it with a few taps from a hammer to ensure it’s airtight. Press in the airlock, and now your wine is bottled and ready to go back in the cupboard. Place your bottle of fresh blackberry wine back in the same dark storage spot, at room temperature once again.
- You’ll need to leave your brew to ferment for six weeks.
Step 6: Racking Your Blackberry Wine
After another 6 long weeks of waiting, your homemade blackberry wine is almost ready to enjoy.
When you retrieve your demijohn, don’t worry if you notice that the top section of wine is lighter, or if you notice dark sediment at the bottom; this is completely normal. To rack your wine, you’ll need your second demijohn, as well as a sterilized siphon and a level surface to work on.
The process of racking your wine removes yeast solids and sediment from the mix. For blackberry wine, it’s the same process as racking any other wine. However, when it comes to blackberry wine, there can be more sediment due to the skin, tiny hairs, and microscopic seeds found in blackberry fruits.
- You might want to take a little extra care when racking homemade blackberry wine, because of this additional threat of sediment.
- If your demijohn isn’t quite full once you’re finished racking, you can fill it up with filtered water and 1-2 tablespoons of sugar syrup. Then, simply reseal the demijohn with a new bung, and put it back in your fermentation cupboard for a final two weeks.
- If you’re using a hydrometer, aim for a specific gravity measurement below 0.999. Don’t worry if you’re a novice winemaker, using a hydrometer isn’t necessary and your wine will be just as delicious without.
Step 7: Bottling the Final Product
The amount of time you let your demijohn sit, the drier your final wine will be.
If you prefer a sweeter drink, you can start the bottling process two to four weeks after racking. For a drier wine, leave the demijohn to sit for longer.
How do you know if you like the taste?
Simple, it’s finally time to sample your creation! Taste your blackberry wine, to see if it fits your preferences. To sweeten the blackberry wine, feel free to add sugar syrup, or concentrated red grape juice.
- If you prefer a drier blackberry wine, you can continue to let the mixture to sit for up to 8 weeks, until it reached your preferred flavor. It’s not recommended to leave your wine for any more than 8 weeks, as at this point there’s a chance an acidic taste will form.
- When you’re happy with the way your blackberry wine tastes, complete the racking process one final time. Ensure you use proper sterilization as always.
- Use a siphon tube to transfer your finished wine from the demijohn into bottles. With our recipe, you should have produced 6 bottles of delicious blackberry wine. Seal your bottles with corks or screw tops, and then it’s time for the final tantalizing wait.
- Make sure to label your wine bottles with the date and contents so they don’t get mixed up in your collection. If you can manage it, wait a few weeks before opening your first bottle. Your homemade wine is ready to drink now, but hold back just a little bit longer to improve the flavors.
This blackberry wine recipe is perfect to make in August when the fruit is ripe and ready to go. Then, the fermentation process will be completed just in time for Christmas, ready for some celebratory festivities! You could try warming your blackberry brew with a stick of cinnamon, a slice of apple, and a dollop of blackberry jam for a delicious homemade mulled wine.
If you like our blackberry wine recipe, why not check out some of the best Sangria recipes too? Then, you’ll have a delicious beverage to serve no matter the weather.
Bonus tip: Check out this video for some tips on racking your wine!
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