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Hand fasting & Wedding Wine

I designed this wine very carefully over several months, there were three previous batches made and tested before the winning formula was found.

I made the wine in a large 5 gallon batch for two reasons, the first was that it would allow us to open a bottle each anniversary for the next 10 years. Secondly it would allow us to give our special guests a bottle or two as a special memento of the day and toast us on our first anniversary.

I feel it is of utmost importance that only the best ingredients are used in the recipe and so this was probably one of the most expensive wines I have ever made.

A description of the wine
The wine is a medium dry full bodied white, when new and fresh it is a 3 - 4 on the sweetness scale but after a month or two drops to a 2 - 3. It has a light flowery flavour with a slight citric twang to it.

Ingredients, to make 5 Gallon
                        Instructions

  1. Follow the usual steps for cleaning and sterilising all of the equipment.
  2. Pour the sugar into your fermentation bucket/Demijohn.
  3. Bring a litre or two of water to the boil and pour onto the sugar.
  4. Stir the sugar until dissolved.
  5. Place Elderflowers (no large stalks) into a large saucepan, pour on spring water and simmer gently for 45 minutes, (add dried elderflowers directly to the fermentation bucket).
  6. Strain the Elderflowers through a cloth into fermentation vessel and discard flower heads.
  7. Add remaining ingredients.
  8. Bring fermentation vessel to the correct level with the remaining water and add yeast and shake or stir well.
  9. Place lid or insert your air lock and leave to ferment.
  10. Continue with usual stages once fermentation has finished.
What do I do next?
This is the hardest part of wine making, YOU HAVE TO WAIT. The wine can take anywhere from 1 - 4 weeks to ferment.

Can I speed up the process?
Yes the wine making process can be advanced by purchasing a heating mat or something similar. They keep the wine at the optimum temperature, this causes the yeast to grow quicker, the yeast eats the sugar to grow and a BI-product called alcohol is then produced. If you cant get hold of heating equipment find the warmest place in the house with the most constant temperature. You can also wrap the fermentation vessel in a blanket, this will help insulate it.

Can the Alcohol content be raised or lowered?
Yes, the alcohol content is governed by the amount of sugar at the start of the process. The more sugar used the more alcohol produced and vice versa. It is not wise to play with the sugar content unless you are experienced and have a hydrometer. The maximum alcohol in a wine is around about 18% alcohol by volume, the reason for this is because the amount of alcohol at this level kills the yeast and so no more alcohol can be produced.

When is my wine ready?
If you are using a hydrometer this will tell you when a wine is ready for bottling. If you don't have a hydrometer, the bubbles passing through the airlock should be no more than 3 per minute, per hour.

Your wine is now ready what next?
  1. You will need to sterilise all the equipment again.
  2. Carefully move your wine to a work top and slowly loosen the airlock to prevent it sucking the water in the airlock back into your wine.
  3. Because of the raisins you will need to place your T towel or muslin in the funnel this will act as a filter to stop raisins going into your clearing vessel.
  4. Take care not to stir up the sediment in the bottom of the fermentation vessel too much.
  5. Carefully siphon the wine into the clearing vessel through your filter, taking care not to suck up too much sediment from the bottom.
  6. Fit the air lock and wait. ( I find it is always a good idea to have a small sample while I'm siphoning off the wine, just as a tester.) Remember though the wine will only get better so don't be too disappointed if it isn't great at this stage.
  7. Do the washing up.
  8. Wait for your wine to clear.
I cant wait, I want to drink it now!
Wine can be drunk while it is cloudy, it is perfectly fine. It just doesn't look as appetising as a nice, bright, clear wine does.

Can I make it clear any quicker?
Yes, there are two ways of doing this, the first is to put crushed egg shells into the wine, however I don't like to use this method. I prefer to buy a clearing agent, the one I use has two bottles, the first contains a clear liquid the second a brown. When added in the amounts recommended on the box they can clear a wine within 24 hours. These clearing agents do have implications for veegans though.

What Next?
Your wine is ready for bottling and drinking, remember when bottled to store in a cold place, this will prevent the bottles exploding. This is caused by the yeast fermenting again and causing excess pressure building up in the bottles.
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Kcalb