About a week ago, the kids and I walked down to their school for them to play on the playground and for me to pillage the blackberry hill. I had already made one trip down and gotten about a gallon of blackberries, which I turned into jam.
This trip I picked some for the hubs to make a blackberry cobbler with enough left over to attempt making some blackberry wine. I didn't want to get stuck with a huge amount of rancid liquid in case of failure, so I started small. About 5 cups worth (or a pound and a half) of blackberries.
Making wine is a multi-part effort. I had attempted making some hard apple cider a few years back and it failed miserably, but I did have some leftover wine yeast to work with so I figured it was worth the time.
I'm planning on posting all parts of the process. If you are catching this later, this is the first part.
1.5 lbs blackberries
1/4 cup chopped raisins
1 1/3 cups water
1 pint water
4 ounces sugar (about 3/4 cup)
1/4 cup water (100 - 110 degrees F)
1/2 packet wine yeast
After rinsing and draining the blackberries, heat them with the water (1 1/3 cup) to a simmer and mash them down with a potato masher to release their juices. Add in the chopped raisins and stirred to mix.
Random notes: I added in raisins to give it more tannin flavors. Some people will throw in rinsed oak wood chips to impart an aged in oak flavor. Many recipes don't call for heating the blackberries, but I wanted to heat them to kill off any natural yeasts or other funky residues. Generally, people use campden tablets to kill yeast, but I didn't have any and didn't want to bother. So, we'll see how smart a move that is when I'm all done.
Leave the blackberry mixture to cool for a couple hours. While it's cooling, make the sugar syrup (basically bring the sugar and water to boil), so it also has a chance to cool to almost room temperature.
When the blackberry mixture and the sugar syrup are about room temperature (really, anything under 100 degrees is okay), mix the wine yeast with the warm water and then add the syrup and the yeast mix to the blackberry mixture, stirring it well together.
Pour the combined liquids into a sterilized container and cover with a clean cloth. I used a glass 1/2 gallon milk bottle. Be forewarned - you'll want to keep this mixture in a warmish area, but it does highly smell of yeast for the first day or so. So, if you don't want an area smelling like a bakery exploded, you might want to move this to an area not heavily trafficked.
Let this sit for a week and then you're ready for Part II.
Other random, smaller note: If you can't wait for all my posts on making wine, I'm basing my forays into winemaking on this set of instructions. It's also useful for those who want to make wine with larger quantities.