Homemade Plum Wine Results

The prize.

The prize.

We finally bottled my plum wine a few weekends ago, and for a first batch, it was actually drinkable. Strong as hell, not the tastiest, full of room for improvement, but drinkable.

Strong as hell

I did two fermentations. Twenty-four hours after the campden tablets dissolved, I made a sugar solution in a quart jar with 2.25 pounds of sugar, 16 ounces warm water, and plum juice and stirred it into the juice in the bucket. I then made a yeast solution (with champagne yeast, recommended for fruit wines) and added that.

When the yeast activity slowed, about 12 days later, I transferred the liquid to a carboy, and did another fermentation with the same recipe of sugar solution. This means I added 4.5 pounds of sugar to 4 gallons of straight plum juice. The wine then sat for about 4 months in the carboy.

When I siphoned the stuff into the bucket for step one of the bottling process, just having it in my mouth gave me a gentle buzz. When I had a less-than-8 oz glass with dinner that night, the buzz did not seem alcoholic as much as it seemed other-drug-like. Relaxing and pleasant, nonetheless.

Not the tastiest

Sarah and I both have a sweet tooth, and this wine is sour. It has a nice fragrance and does not smell vinegary, but it is sour. We experimented by adding sugar to the desired sweetness. This made the wine more palatable, but if it weren’t homemade, I can’t honestly say I’d be drinking it. I sent a bottle off to Richard, my plum wine-making mentor, who prefaced his responding email, ‘DO NOT DUMP THIS WINE!’ He’s very positive. He thought the wine was too acidic, but has good color and is decent for a first attempt.

In the meantime, after we bottled it, I discovered all kinds of online literature that pointed to sweetening wine before bottling it, but cautioned that the yeast may undergo another round of activity. A home-brewing friend said champagne yeast is rather notorious for behaving this way and suggested sweetening after opening the bottle.

Full of room for improvement

1. I don’t even really like champagne or other dry wines. And the back-taste of champagne is quite present. I think I’ll research other suitable yeasts.

2. The plums weren’t necessarily ripe. The tree had been stripped clean, plum ready or not. I think I’ll opt for ripe fruit next time, or a bit overripe, or some combo.

3. Yes, I will add more sugar.

4. But I think I’ll taste-test more along the way, too. Doh!

5. Did I let the wine sit in its yeast debris too long? Maybe I should have siphoned it off, then let it sit. I remember Richard saying he strained before letting it sit for a few months.

Drinkable

It is. It has a great color and clarified nicely (an attribute of champagne yeast apparently). It isn’t horrible, it’s just not as good as it could be. I think I have 10 bottles. I used it to cook a pork roast one night. The more applications, the better, I think.

Cheers!

Pre-siphoning. The wine clarified nicely.

Pre-siphoning. The wine clarified nicely.

Bottling the wine after siphoning and filtering.

Bottling the wine after siphoning and filtering.

 We made improvements in our 2013 plum wine! Check out Homemade Plum Wine, 2013 for details. If you want to try making the best plum liqueur we’ve ever tasted, read up on Not-Traditional Umeshu.

9 Responses to Homemade Plum Wine Results

  1. Wine making is a bit like beekeeping ~ so many opinions on how and when to… etc. I rack homemade wine about 2 weeks after fermentation has ceased which then allows it to sit and quietly settle without a yeast sediment but I’d never say I’m right, it’s just something that’s been suggested to me over the years by those more experienced. Unripened plums will be sour but you seem to have compensated with the amount of sugar used . Did you remove the stones before boiling the fruit? If not they’d possibly add a somewhat bitter flavour.

    Your friend Richard is right, if you can bear to be patient tuck the bottles away in a cool, dark place for a year and then come back to it because I once made gooseberry wine with the same results and slowly used it except for one bottle that collected dust for nearly 2 years. That one bottle contained the best wine I ever tasted and I kicked myself for drinking the rest too soon.

    Those bottle tops of yours should avoid any messy explosions but keep an eye on it!

    • Hi Jackie:
      Thanks for your ever-helpful comments! I think your comparison of wine-making to beekeeping might be the best I’ve ever heard for either. God knows, I never feel 100% sure I’ve done the right thing with the bees – unless I leave them alone – but I would like to be able to produce a decent wine.

      I did not boil my fruit. I juiced the plums by hand, and it was this juice that I used to make the wine, with no water added (save miniscule amounts in the sugar solution). I wish I had done more tasting along the way. If I’d had, I might know whether the juice itself was sour, or whether the wine is close to the edge of vinegar. Thanks to you, however, I will hold out some hope that the stuff will get better with age.

      What yeast do you use in your fruit wines? I would like to try others than the champagne yeast.

      Tomorrow, we are going to rack my persimmon ‘beers,’ one of which was a natural fermentation. I may have sat on that one too long; we’ll see. These are actually wines, if you want to call them that. Should be interesting!

  2. Hello Kelly, sorry to read about your knee injury. There can be nothing more debilitating or painful. Hopefully you can still get to the kitchen to rack your beer ~ priorities dear!! Persimmon sounds wonderful for a beer since in the UK we have nothing much more exciting than hops and nettles but I can understand why it would more likely make a wine.

    I’m lucky enough to have a hardware shop in town that also supplies wine and beer making equipment and amongst all the gear I came upon a box with a variety of sachets of yeast. For my blackberry wine I used a simple red wine yeast but have no idea what the difference would be to ordinary yeast, in fact you now have me wondering and I’ll check with the staff the next time I’m in there!

    The next time you make a fruit wine you could try placing it in a bucket and pouring a jug of boiling water over it then cover and leave for a few days, stirring every now and then. You can then squeeze it all out in your hands before running it through a muslin bag or equivalent until the last drop has dripped!! Then when you dissolve the sugar in the juice you check the flavour as you go before adding the yeast. It’s all down to experimenting and discovering likes and dislikes but good fun along the way!

    • Hi Jackie:
      The recipe I followed for persimmon ‘beer’ was a traditional recipe used in the South (US) with the native persimmon (D. virginiana). While many recipes call for making a cake-like loaf with persimmons to use in fermenting, I used the straight fruit. It’s thus more like a wine.

      The results were, uh, interesting. I had taken the extra ‘creative’ steps of adding fresh ginger, sarsaparilla, and molasses. I am beginning to realize that one’s first brewing adventures really invoke ‘mother love.’ No one will be drinking this brew except me. We’re still due to bottle the naturally fermented batch, so maybe there is hope.

      Check out Making Wild Wines and Meads by Pattie Vargas and Rich Gulling. There is a table describing the attributes of various yeasts in wine and mead-making. I’m going to consult this in the future, as well as follow some of the recipes. I procured the book recently and am looking forward to using it!

  3. Kelly, what I find is, once they know alcohol is involved most of my friends are always prepared to try my experimental concoctions and after one or two glasses don’t care what it tastes like!! Copious amounts of brandy were added to my blackberry wine and lemon peel in the gooseberry mix so I think your persimmon beer with its additions should have a fascinating taste. In my old wines, syrups and cordials bible there’s a reference to mead and metheglin which evokes a wonderful sense of community when I read ‘Brewer’s or baker’s yeast can be used to make a good mead but it is preferable to use a suitable mead yeast. In most counties the beekeeping officer is prepared to distribute this yeast for a small charge’. I’m thinking the next time we invite the local bee inspector to take a look at our hives we’ll insist he pops some mead yeast in his pocket to bring along with him!

    Many thanks for the book referral, I’m off to Amazon to search it out.

  4. ​I have a great video on how i made Plum wine here:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvjMKoWMGZw

  5. Hi,
    Noticed your comments re your plum wine.

    I also make a very very good plum wine, one thing that may be of interest to you and save you a heap of work. “You do not need to juice the fruit” – simply cut the plums in halves, remove most of the stones, mash slightly, add water etc etc + yeast and let it ferment for about 5 days on the “Must”!!

    Then rack off and leave for about 3 – 4 weeks until fermented out.

    Bottle and leave for a minimum of 6 months before drinking !! The longer you can leave it the better.

    Mine is called “Spicy Plum Wine” – Its more of a liqueur, magnificent on a cold winter evening !!

    Hope that helps
    Cheers
    Doug (from Downunder)

    • Hi, Doug. Yes, I know I do not need to juice the plums, but have you juiced yours? I would be most curious to compare the final products of a juice or fruit mash fermentation! Thanks for writing.

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