Apricot wine

What follows is a recipe for apricot wine - the best dry, white, non-grape table wine that home winemakers can produce. Also included are instructions and links to winemaking manuals for a fuller understanding of the techniques and equipment of the winemaker's art.

15 lbs fresh ripe apricots
1 quart white wine grape concentrate (or 26 oz chopped raisins)
9 lbs white table sugar
6 quarts hot water
2 Tsp yeast nutrient
4 Tsp liquid tannin (or 8 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 (malic, tartaric and citric acid prepared for white wines)
1 package Champagne yeast (Lalvin EC-1118)
bentonite finings
Remove the pits from the apricots. Squish the apricots manually into a nylon straining bag. Put the raisins into the bag if using, 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 1.100 by adding sugar. With an acid testing kit, shoot for about 5.5 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 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 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 3 months. Drink.

Some recommend using sanitizers to clean fermentors, carboys and hoses. Most of these sanitizers contain peroxides and other poisonous compounds. They must be rinsed completely off whatever they touch, or the wine will be ruined. A better option is automatic dishwasher detergent in crystal form. Dissolve 1 Tbl into a cup of warm water. Crystal detergent rinses away more readily than sanitizers, and it is dirt cheap.

For the general "sterilizing" of fermenters, hoses, carboys and bottles (after cleaning), a sulphite solution should be made and used. Dissolve 2 ounces of potassium meta-bisulfite crystals in 1 gallon of warm water. Do not inhale the resulting fumes, as some are allergic to sulfites, and their potency could take your breath away.

In this recipe, the acid and sugar levels have been deliberately calculated high and the water levels low, so that the carboy can be topped off with tap water to yield a wine with ~12% alcohol and an acidity of 6.5 g/L. Older recipes call 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.

The importance of not racking the wine until it ceases fermenting in the carboy cannot be over-emphasized. If wine is racked that has not fermented to dryness, the fermentation process could get stuck. It's very difficult to get stuck wine started again.

To make a siphon, get a length of 6 foot by a 3/8 inch Inner Diameter food grade plastic hose and a racking cane.

Though it may sound silly - if you never siphoned before, practice on a carboy of water. Sucking up lees, through bad racking spoils the taste of wine.

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

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

From Purdue, fining with bentonite. Bentonite is clay, i.e. dirt. It's not prepared in some lab. It's mined.