Cherry wine

Sweet cherries are abundant in many regions. They ferment and clear very well. Cherries are noted to produce a wine with "body" and "chewiness". However, avoid sour cherries. They are not suitable for making table wine. The dry wines sour cherries yield are odd-tasting and spicy.

15 lbs fresh sweet cherries
1 quart red wine grape concentrate (or 26 oz chopped raisins)
13 lbs white table sugar
6 quarts hot water
2 Tsp yeast nutrient
2 Tsp liquid tannin (or 4 Tsp dry tannin made into a thin paste with water)
2 Tsp pectic enzyme powder
3/4 Tsp potassium metabisulfite made into a slurry with water
8 quarts cold water
acid blend (tartaric, malic and citric acid prepared for red wines)
1 package (Lalvin Bourgovin RC 212)
bentonite finings
Crush the cherries manually into a nylon straining bag. If using raisins, put them into the bag and tie it off with sterile string. Place the bag, sugar and hot water into a food grade 6-8 gallon primary fermenter. Stir.

Add the next 5 ingredients. Stir.

Adjust the specific gravity with an hydrometer to 1.105 by adding sugar. With an acid testing kit, shoot for about 5.0 g/L by adding acid blend (see the manual of your kit for specifics).

Raise or lower the temperature of the must to keep it a constant 75F.

Prepare the yeast to package directions. Add the yeast. Cover the fermenter with a lid or food-grade plastic. Stir the must twice daily. When fermentation kicks in, move the primary to a cooler location (65F) - if possible. Check the specific gravity every day. (A 10 point or more drop per day should be expected.)

When the specific gravity hits 1.020, squeeze the bag to release most of the juice, then siphon the new wine into a clean, 5 gallon glass carboy. Attach an air-lock to a 6 1/2 size white, rubber bung, fit the bung into the neck of the carboy then fill the air-lock half-full of water.

When fermentation entirely ceases, rack (siphon) the wine into a clean carboy. Top off the carboy with cold, tap water, leaving no more than two inches of head-space between the wine level and the bung of the air-lock. Attach an air-lock. Allow the wine to rest for 4 weeks.

Rack the wine into a clean carboy. Add the bentonite finings (prepare as the directions on the package indicate). Top off the carboy with water. When the wine becomes sparklingly clear (about 2 weeks), rack it into a clean carboy. Sulphite the wine with 1/4 Tsp potassium metabisulfite made into a slurry with water. Top off the carboy with water. Attach the air-lock. Bulk age 3 months.

Bottle the wine. Bottle age 6 months. Drink.

In this (and other fruit wine) recipes, the acid and sugar levels have been deliberately calculated high and the water levels low, so that the carboy can be topped off with cold tap-water to yield a wine with ~12% alcohol and an acidity of 6.5 g/L. Older recipes called for keeping excess wine in smaller jugs, then topping off the carboy with it. However, small quantities of wine are susceptible to spoilage; Cold tap-water is risk free, and it will not dilute the finished wine.

Some winemakers insist that bentonite is not suitable for fining red wines. They reserve it for whites. KC Finings have been palmed off as "the perfect fining agent for red wine". However, I have not had success with KC Finings. I suspect that the chemical constituents (Kieselsol and Chitosan) were old, and they made the wines cloudy, which only bentonite could clarify!

Refer to my Apricot wine recipe for a fuller understanding of the winemaking process.

Here is a comprehensive, online wine making manual by Lum Eisenman - a must for beginners: The Home Winemakers Manual.

Here is another fine, though somewhat technical guide by the apostle of home winemaking Stanley F. Anderson: Winemaking.