Wine time

Things have been a bit slow on the home-productivity front, due to other commitments and occasional low morale. Still, when you’re feeling a bit crap it’s great to be able to mull things over with a glass of your very own fruit wine!

Fruit Wine

Each time I make rice wine I have a bunch of ricey lees left over, and thanks to a friend’s donation of about a hundred and fifty lemons, I decided to have a go at making some lemon wine.  I followed this recipe roughly, leaving out the raisins, estimating the amount of sugar required based on ignorance, and using rice-wine lees for yeast. After a few days the mix begun to bubble and the lees swirled around in the jar like a lava-lamp.

After about three weeks the wine had gone quiet so I decanted and strained it into bottles, getting 2 litres from the first batch. As promised in the recipe, the flavour changes with age. In the beginning it was best described as ‘refreshing’ and a good palate cleanser. After about a month and with one bottle remaining, the wine is not quite as harsh and has met with approval from about half a dozen tasters.

Success with the lemon wine led me to realise that you can make wine out of pretty much anything, so long as it doesn’t taste foul or inhibit the yeast. Onion wine? Apparently it’s good for cooking, but I haven’t gone that far yet. Instead I made Feijoa Wine (surprised to note that excellent feijoa flavour came from boiling the skins), which independent tasters have confirmed “tastes like feijoa”, and am currently fermenting a little persimmon wine, another batch of lemon wine, and a lemon marmalade wine that is helping me deal with the results of an imperfect batch of lemon marmalade.

I’m experimenting with adding tea for tannin, and have a few ideas for future fruit flavours. It’s a simple process regardless, and a great way to reuse the rice-wine yeast, deal with surplus fruit, and keep us stocked with cheap and interesting liquor.

Rice Wine

The rice wine is a personal favourite, by which I mean most people don’t like it. I have two 1 litre bottles aging in a cupboard, one sweet and one dry, and I try a little occasionally to see how the flavours have developed. I’ve read that it takes six months for the rice wine to come into its own, but already after three months the flavour is more complex and interesting than before. I’ve switched from Sushi rice to glutinous rice (sticky rice), which has thinner grains and seems to hold less water. For my current batch I also experimented with aspects of a sake fermentation process, creating a moto or koji and yeast starter, which I suspect failed at some point, leaving me to hastily sprinkle additional jiuqu or mould and yeast balls over the rice to give the all-important aspergillus oryzae mould a fighting chance.

I just checked it, and it was covered in mould, hopefully the right kind of mould:


I’ve got hold of some red yeast rice which carries a different mould and will produce a red rice wine. Apparently the wine tastes like punch, and the bright red lees are used in various Fujianese dishes.  I’ll let you know how it goes in about a month or so, assuming the current batch of rice wine doesn’t kill me.


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