If you grow your own blackberries, or you have a patch of wild blackberries near you, consider turning some of them into blackberry wine. This sweet, unique wine contains only blackberry juice, not grapes, so it has a very distinct flavor and mouth feel. Learning how to make blackberry wine can fun way to use up your excess blackberries, and create gifts for friends and family that are sure to be appreciated.
Making Your Own Wine
Making your own wine may sound like a difficult or complicated process, but it’s actually fairly simple. The key is patience; it takes several weeks to months to make the wine, and a lot of the time is spent waiting for enough time to pass so you can get to the next step.
If you’ve taken a course in wine making, you’re probably already familiar with most of the steps needed to make blackberry wine. Because wine can be made out of nearly any sugary liquid, including honey, apricots, strawberries, apples, and blackberries, the basic process remains the same; slight variations and adjustments are necessary to account for the fruit or liquid being used.
Mass wine producers often invest in state of the art equipment to help them make consistent batches of wine, and to constantly make improvements to their craft. And while climate controlled cellars, and special pressing equipment is helpful when producing large amounts of wine, none of it is actually necessary when brewing your own at home.
Remember that even large wine makers often started out small, and produced some of their first bottles before they ever thought about purchasing new equipment. If you study some of the more recent wine makers in California, you’ll find many of them started the same way; with only the equipment necessary to produce a gallon or so at once.
To make your own blackberry wine, you’ll need to make sure you have the following pieces of equipment on hand:
- Plastic bucket that can be sterilized – this may mean you need a bucket that can be run through the dishwasher on a sanitizing cycle, or one that can be boiled. If you choose to boil it, it must withstand the temperature of the water, and you’ll need a pot big enough to hold it.
- Muslin or straining device – this is necessary to remove the pulp from your liquid. Muslin or cheesecloth will work well if you do not have a fine strainer.
- 1 gallon jug – this recipe will produce one gallon, or 6 bottles of wine. Using a gallon jug will allow you to make the entire batch at once and divide it once it’s done.
- Cotton wool – cotton wool is necessary for stuffing or sealing the neck of the jug.
- Balloon large enough to cover the neck of the jug – a balloon with a hole pricked in it will allow the CO2 to escape very slowly from the bottle, at just the right rate, while protecting the wine from oxidation and any outside contaminates.
- Siphon – you will need to remove the wine from the jug to a container, and then return it to the jug again once it’s been sterilized. A siphon will help make this process much easier.
- Funnel – a funnel is used when you are transferring your finished wine into your bottles.
The Process of How to Make Blackberry Wine
Blackberry wine is made in four stages. The first three stages can take a week to 10 days or longer to complete, with the entire process taking upwards of about a month. There is no set time for when the third stage ends, but the first two stages need to be followed carefully and taken care of at the seven and 10 day marks exactly to help facilitate the process.
- 4-1/2 pounds fresh blackberries – you can use wild or store-bought giant blackberries; each will yield a different flavor
- 2-1/2 pounds granulated sugar
- 7 pints distilled water
- 1 package red wine yeast
Instructions for Stage 1
- Sterilize a plastic bowl or bucket large enough to hold the blackberries, sugar, and 5 pints of water.
- Place the blackberries in the bucket and crush them well. You can use a potato masher, spoon, or your hands provided what you use is clean and crushes the berries thoroughly.
- Add 2 pints of distilled water to the blackberries and stir. Allow the mixture to sit for 2 hours.
- Put 1/3 of the sugar into a pan and add 3 pints of water. Bring this mixture to a boil for one minute until a sugar syrup forms.
- Allow the syrup to cool.
- In a separate bowl, pour the yeast into 4 ounces of warm – not hot – water. Allow the yeast to proof for 10 minutes.
- Pour the cooled syrup and the yeast mixture onto the berries. Be sure the syrup has been completely cooled before doing so; otherwise this may kill the yeast.
- Cover the bowl or bucket with a clean cloth and set in a warm place for seven days.
Instructions for Stage 2
- Strain the pulp out of the liquid with a piece of muslin or cheesecloth, or with a straining device. If using cloth, be sure to wring the excess liquid out of the cloth when you are done.
- Transfer the strained liquid to a gallon jug.
- Place 1/3 of the sugar into a saucepan with 1 pint of water and bring to a boil for one minute.
- Allow the syrup to cool completely, and then add it to the jug.
- Stuff the neck of the jug with cotton wool keeping it above the liquid to seal it.
- Prick the top of a balloon with a pin and stretch the neck of the balloon over the top of the jar to allow the CO2 to escape.
- Place the jug in a warm place for 10 days.
Instructions for Stage 3
- Siphon the wine from the jug to a container.
- Sterilize the jug, and then return the wine to it again.
- Boil the remaining 1/3 of the sugar with the remaining pint of water for one minute.
- Allow the syrup to cool completely, and then transfer it to the jug with the rest of the wine.
- Fill up the neck of the jug with fresh cotton wool and stretch the balloon back over the top.
- Place the jug in a warm place where you can observe it for several days to weeks. The wine will be fermenting during this time frame. The fermentation process will appear as bubbles forming within the jug and traveling to the top. The balloon may appear to be partially filled with air, or it may stand up off the neck of the jug.
- Continue to check on the wine daily until the fermentation process has stopped. When you stop seeing bubbles forming or moving, and the balloon appears to be empty of air, the wine has finished fermenting. The time frame for this stage will vary depending upon the fruit, the heat of the area where the wine is, and the size of the jug. Do not disturb the wine until the fermentation process has stopped.
Instructions for Stage 4
- Siphon the wine into a container.
- Sterilize your wine bottles and place a funnel in the necks.
- Carefully transfer the wine into the bottles, filling them up to the neck, and seal them with a cork.
- Store in a cool, dry place until you use them.
Now that you know how to make blackberry wine, you may want to branch out and try a few variations for your next batch. Blackberries combine well with a number of other fruits and flavors, allowing you to come up with your own unique mixture. Once you’ve sampled pure blackberry wine, try one of these variations, too:
- Elderberry/blackberry wine
- Blackberry/blueberry wine
- Blackberry/cranberry wine
- Blackberry mead, made with honey
- Blackberry/apple wine
- Blackberry/strawberry/apple wine
- Blackberry/grape wine
If you choose to use more tart-tasting fruit, you may want to increase the sugar slightly, or use a blend of a few different sweet and tart fruits to balance out the flavors. You may also want to experiment with aging your wine, or leaving it sealed in a cool area for months to years to see how this affects the flavor, and whether or not this is something that you enjoy as much or more than the original.
Start Your Wine Making Today
Once you’ve learned how to make blackberry wine, you may find that you want to sign up for a wine course to learn how to appreciate the various flavors of more complex wines. This could help you learn to develop your own palette and unique blend. You may also want to sign up for a course on food and wine pairings so you can learn what to serve with your blackberry wine when friends and family come to visit. Making your own wine can be a fun and rewarding hobby that allows for nearly endless creativity and personalization. Get started on your first batch of blackberry wine today and learn to sample some of the sweeter things in life.