Web Site Name

Barbara Pleasant

 
homemade fruit wines in carboys
Most of our homemade fruit wines include apple juice mixed with various berries. The large carboy at left shows the rhubarb wine at an early stage of secondary fermentation, temporarily in the light on racking day.
cut stalks of rhubarb\u

More Pleasant Reading on Rhubarb

 

At GrowVeg.com:

Making the Most of Rhubarb

Books I love and recommend to other home winemakers.

My newest book, for new gardeners and the people who love them.

Homemade Rhubarb Wine

February 14, 2011; Updated April 22, 2012

It was the first batch of country wine I made in 2010, starting with fresh rhubarb cut in May, but I was still amazed that my homemade rhubarb wine tasted so good after only 8 months. At that age, my other fruit wines taste so rough that racking day is not particularly fun. Not so with the 3-gallon batch of homemade rhubarb wine I bottled on New Years Day. Very well chilled, served in a glass with sugar around the rim, my rhubarb wine is pleasingly acid and delightfully light, lemony with a mellow nibble of earthy sweetness.

 

But there was trouble in paradise.

 

Taster's Complaints

Some tasters said the rhubarb wine was rough on their tummies, probably due to extreme acidity. Point well taken, so I'm experimenting with specialized yeasts (below) and using rhubarb as a blending wine. This is not an original idea! The folks at ECKraus discuss blending at the end of this article. They suggest blending acidic wines with those that taste a little flat. With this in mind, I'll be blending a little rhubarb with some apple-grape that needs some depth. And necessity can be the mother of invention! I had to ditch two inches of residue while racking a gallon of Asian pear-black raspberry, and I had to top that baby off with something. Rhubarb to the rescue!


Special Yeast for Homemade Rhubarb Wine


Recently I received a great tip from Minnesota winemaker Denise F. on using special yeast that processes excess acids to make homemade rhubarb wine. Denise suggested Vintner’s Harvest MA33, available at ECKrauss; BaderBrewing offers more detailed information on handling this particular yeast. The ever-generous Jack Keller thinks that Lalvin 71B-1122 offers the same benefits, though he points out that these specialized yeasts are known to reduce excess malic acid, but we don’t know what they will do with oxalic acid.


 

thawing pieces of rhubarb

Rhubarb Wine Recipes

I began with  RhubTerry Garey's Rhubarb Rhubarb wine recipe in The Joy of Home Winemaking. I also looked at other rhubarb wine recipes, including one made available online by  Jack Keller. I offer my updated recipe here because it shows measurements used for a 3-gallon batch, which I find easier to manage than larger batches and more rewarding than smaller ones. Besides, my small rhubarb patch produces about 20 pounds more than we can use fresh. Making one 3-gallon batch of homemade rhubarb wine leaves us with a bulging gallon freezer bag of frozen rhubarb for other uses through the winter months. 

 

rhubarb flower bud
rhubarb flower bud
Follow Me on Pinterest
Barbara Pleasant's rhubarb wine

Chemically speaking malic acid (above) and oxalic acid (below) look similar enough to expect similar degradation patterns. See Wiki (source of
these graphics) for more information.

Barbara Pleasant’s Rhubarb Wine Recipe (3 gallons)

12 pounds rhubarb, cut into one-inch pieces, frozen and thawed, placed in fermentation bag

5 pounds sugar, boiled with 2 gallons water

1 pound honey, boiled with 1 gallon water, foam skimmed

8 ounces frozen white grape concentrate

One-fourth teaspoon grape tannin

3 teaspoons yeast nutrient

One and one-half teaspoons pectic enzyme

1 packet Lalvin 71B-1122 or

Vintner's Harvest MA33  yeast

 

My notes indicate an unremarkable primary fermentation, with significant cloudiness persisting until the second racking, after two months. Set in the basement for four more months, the wine cleared nicely, at least to my standards. Some recipes include chalk to enhance clearing, but limiting rhubarb to no more than 4 pounds per gallon, and a prolonged secondary ferment (necessary with natural wines anyway) seems to do the trick.

homemade fruit wine

Tasteful Pairings for Rhubarb Wine

 

In Vermont, Boyden Valley Winery’s suggests serving its rhubarb wine “with Thai food or anything with curry or Cajun spice.” Among cheeses, Boyden Valley suggests gorgonzola or a well-ripened bleu.

Martha Stewart used Boyden Valley’s rhubarb wine to create a decadent raspberry cocktail bucked up with vodka, but I prefer to turn down the alcohol content by blending rhubarb wine with various mixers. All fruit juices work well, and Prairie Berry Winery in South Dakota suggests mixing its award-winning rhubarb wine with margarita mix.

 

Wine judge Jessica Yadegaran has called rhubarb wine “sassy,” and I agree. And, although I’m most likely to sip ice cold homemade rhubarb wine while cooking, the wine-and-food pairing experts at Lynfred Winery in Illinois do mention rhubarb wine as an accompaniment for sweet potatoes. Then there is the idea set forth by Countryman's Estate Winery in Ontario, to serve rhubarb wine with fresh strawberries.

 

Indeed, just as strawberry-rhubarb pie stands firm as a classic springtime flavor combination, strawberry-rhubarb wine can be exceptionally good. Last year, the strawberry-rhubarb wine made by Maple River Winery in North Dakota was named Fruit Wine of the Year in Purdue University’s Indy International Wine Competition. Such is the stuff that makes up the future dreams of home wine makers who also keep a garden.

Copyright 2011-2012 by Barbara Pleasant