Jul 102011

Our blackberry wine is a delight. It tastes almost like port, rich and smooth with a good depth of ripe fruit flavour. This year everyone seems to be saying that the blackberries are earlier than ever, so I thought it might be useful if I popped up the recipe I will be using.

Bee on blackberry flowers

It’s really a very simple method: pick, mash, ferment natural sugars, ferment on added sugar, rack until clear, leave until developed.

Interested and want to have a go? Read on…

Blackberry wine recipe

You will need the following items of equipment:

  • A food grade bucket or large bowl that has a lid or you other way to cover for the initial vigorous fermentation.
  • A big plastic or metal spoon or paddle to stir with
  • Something to strain the wine after the initial fermentation. I use a funnel with integral filter. You can use sieves, muslin or similar.
  • A couple of glass or plastic demijohns for the later fermentation. The 5 litre square water bottles are good substitutes.
  • An airlock to stop bugs and things getting into the demijohn while the fermentation takes place and to allow the carbon dioxide produced to escape. You can substitute a cotton wool plug loosley secured with cling film and an elastic band.
  • A wine bottle to hold any excess ferment.
  • Some tubing to transfer wine between buckets & demijohns.
  • A thermometer
  • Six bottles and corks or a 5litre wine bag/box to store & serve your wine

I’m going to give you quantities here to make one 4.5 litre demijohn which will give you six standard size bottles. When we made this last year we did about 15 litres.


1.75kg blackberries (slightly more or less will make no difference)

1.5kg sugar (we use ordinary British white granulated)

4.5 litres water (boiling)

2 tsps pectic enzyme (this breaks down the pectin in the fruit which helps the wine to clear)

Yeast nutrient (follow your brand’s instructions. You can substitute 1/4 tsp of Marmite, yeast extract or malt syrup dissolved in a little hot water)

1tsp wine yeast

Some form of solution to sterilise your equipment. We use VWP Cleaner/Steriliser.


Have a read through this completely before you start. The make sure that all the equipment you need is thoroughly cleaned, sterilised and rinsed.

It’s best to pick the fruit when it’s nice and ripe and on a dry, sunny day.

Give the fruit a gentle wash and do your best to take out any bits of stem, leaves and bugs. You’ll not get all of it, so don’t worry too much.

Put your blackberries in a bucket and mash them with a potato masher or rolling pin.

Pour on your 4.5 litres of boiling water and give a stir. Check the temperature and wait until it goes below 21°C. Add your pectic enzyme, stir, cover and leave for at least 8 hours.

Next day add your yeast nutrient (or substitute) and yeast and cover again. Make sure the cover is not on super tight, if the fermentation really takes off a tight lid might prove exciting. Leave in a warm place, 20-25°C is ideal. Within 24 hours you should start to see fermentation begin with bubbles of carbon dioxide rising to the surface. At this stage it can become quite frothy.

Stir daily for the first 4-7 days using a sterilised spoon or paddle each time.

Once the initial vigorous fermentation has slowed, then you can strain the liquid off the blackberries.

Put the sugar into the clean & sterile demijohn. Using your filter funnel or substitute filter the ferment into the demijohn. Do this in stages so that you can swirl the demijohn to ensure that the sugar is fully dissolved. Top the demijohn up to its shoulder with ferment or water and insert your airlock.

We had spare ferment when we did this, so we used a cleaned and sterilised wine bottle to hold the excess in sealed with some cotton wool and cling film. You can then use this spare to top up the demijohn later as you rack the wine off the sediment. Leave the demijohn and bottle in a warm place.

You should see bubbles in the ferment and gas escaping through the airlock.

The wine will begin to clear after the next stage of fermentation lessens. You should be able to see sediment at the bottom of the demijohn. This is remaining pieces of fruit and dead yeast cells who have completed their job of converting sugar into carbon doixide and alcohol.

It’s good to periodically take the wine off of this sediment, which is called ‘racking’ the wine. Last year we made the wine in September and did the first racking in November and then again in March before bottling in June.

If you taste the wine by taking a sample each time you rack, you’ll be able to taste and feel how the wine changes. At first it’ll taste a bit like strong, sweet ribena. It will gradually change into a more complex, full bodied wine taste. It really is worth giving the wine time to develop before drinking it.

Once you are happy with your wine, rack it for a final time into your sterilised bottles and seal with sterile corks or use a sterilised 5 litre wine bag in a box.

I hope you enjoy your wine making. Let me now how you get on in the comments.

Iechyd da!

And please have a look at my Sustainable Foraging Guidelines for tips how to forage responsibly. 

 Posted by at 11:49

  213 Responses to “Blackberry wine recipe”

  1. hi carl, im using this method but with strawberries instead, would the amount of fruit to sugar be the same?

  2. Hi Carl
    absolutely amazing wine.! starting this year blackberry and blueberry crop wine today, will keep you posted ! thank you for your recipe !
    Im in Florida, have a lot of fresh papaya and mango from the yard…any ideas how to turn into wine? will be greatly appreciated. the recipes I have tried in the past have not been so great

    • Thanks Kelly – please do let me know how it goes.

      Let me have a look in my books for papaya/mango recipes. I’ll let you know if I come up with anything worthwhile 🙂

    • Thank you!
      Slight variation on your recipe this time.Run out of fruit! Started with 6kg blackberry ,0.5 kg blueberry and 0.5 kg strawberry for 18 littre demijohn. bubbling happy in the bucket.

      p.s papayas are ready now and mangoes in week or so. the only recipe I found for both fruit or individually is Champagne like drink.
      Thanks again

  3. I made a gallon of this in September. I’ve just bottled it (along with a batch of elderberry wine and a batch of elderberry & blackberry that I did at the same time). There was surplus blackberry wine, enough to fill a glass. I’m drinking it now. This stuff is amazing! It seems very strong, but sweet, with quite a rich flavour – a little like port, as you say in your description. The taste is more like strawberries than blackberries. It’s better than I thought it would be at this stage. I’m looking forward to cracking open a bottle after they’ve had another six months to mature. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Excellent news, you are welcome 🙂


      • Just a quick follow-up question. All of the other wine recipes I’ve been using add the sugar at the start, when putting the ingredients into the initial container. This means that it does the vigorous fermentation before it’s put into the demijohn. Your recipe, however, involves adding the sugar only once it’s in the demijohn. When I did this it didn’t seem to work very well. There was very little fermentation in the bucket. When I transferred it to the demijohn, I was unable to get the sugar to dissolve properly, and most of it seemed to sink to the bottom. It did gradually disappear, but the liquid only started really fermenting vigorously after it was in the demijohn, fizzing and bubbling out of the airlock like a geyser. It was a bit surprising, given how much of a mess it seemed to be, that it turned out so well. I decided that when I made it again I’d put the sugar in at the start, as with most other recipes, to avoid these problems again. But I wondered whether this would affect the final outcome. Is there a reason why your recipe is this way? I should add that the blackberries I used were sweet and very edible, not the nasty little sour ones, so it’s not like they were particularly lacking in natural sugars.

  4. Hi Carl – Help!
    I get very confused using the hydrometer. I racked my wine a month ago because it seemed to have finished and was starting to clear. However it did taste a little sweet. I decided to check the SG today and one was 1.038, quite sweet. The other was 1.014 which on my hydrometer is within the range it says for bottling for medium wine. There is no fizz on tasting so have they both finished fermenting do you think or should I try and restart with a starter bottle? Will it affect the taste if it’s restarted now?

    Many thanks,

    • Hi Angela

      The wine at 1.038 should ferment some more I think. I’d do a weak beer with a starting reading around there. The one at 1.014 could come down to 1.010 but may be ok if you like a sweeter wine.

      What can happen is that the yeast can find the alcohol content gets too high for it to live. This will depend on how much sugar was in the must to start with. You can get different types of yeasts, some of which cope with the higher alcohol better. I most often use Youngs Super Wine Yeast for day to day wine which is formulated for higher alcohol contents http://www.brewuk.co.uk/young-s-super-wine-yeast-compound-60g.html You won’t harm the wines by restarting them, see the starter bottle method in the comments to this post for the most reliable way of restarting a ferment.

      If you want to be sure that a ferment is stopped (say for the 1.014) then you can crush and stir in a Campden Tablet. This will kill any possible remaining yeast and help the wine stabilise and settle. See here http://www.brewuk.co.uk/campden-tablets-50-s.html.

      Hope that’s a help, come back if not.


  5. Hello carl I, m making 23litres of blackberry wine i, m following your recipe for a 1 gallon amount do I just adjust the amounts of ingrediants for 23 litres ,4 x yeast ect cheers !

    • Hi Garry

      Yes, the ingredients will scale up in proportion. To be honest you don’t need 4x the yeast as it multiplies if it’s got plenty to eat. I normally put a couple of tsp in my big batches and I use 10g nutrient per 10 litres – just follow your pack instructions and you’ll be fine 🙂


  6. Hello Carl. After the success of last years effort, I found I didn’t make enough! so I have 23 litres on the go now. I’ve just put it into the 5 demi jons, and it’s going crazy, frothing up out of the air locks. I’m just cleaning them until hopefully it will calm down in a while. My question is, would it be worth wrapping the demi jons in a fleecy cover, as I’m not going to have my house heated over 18 degrees during the day………..and I don’t have an airing cupboard.
    The last batch was good, but I think it could be improved by keeping the warmth up. What do you think?

    • Hi Vickie

      That’s the spirit! 23 litres is a good amount. Some fleece insulation would be a great idea to help keep the temperature up which will help ensure a good ferment.

      You can get heated mats which don’t cost very much to run, I use a large seed propagator base for mine. You can also get heated belts to wrap around the DJs.

      Hope that’s a help

      • Thanks Carl, I will wrap mine lovingly in some sheep wool insulation. Ive only got 6 bottles left from last year. After proudly giving too much away, I must be less generous with it!…….

  7. We are making blackberry wine and has just finished working off and only racked one time and it’s still tart. Do we need to work it off again and add more sugar?

    • Hi Garth

      I assume that by ‘working off’ you mean has finished fermenting. The wine tasting tart is a sign that the sugar in the fruit and that you added has been turned to alcohol and is what I would expect, it’s a sign of success 🙂

      So now you will need to leave it so it can further clear and the wine will improve in flavour over time.

      Hope that’s a help.


      • I’ve just racked my 23 litres for the first time too and it is a lot “tarter” than last years batch….Not nearly so sweet. I put less sugar in this time. So I hope mine is a success too!. There are no bubbles and its clear as a bell……but very tart!

  8. I’ve had a go at making this and the wine has been bubbling away well. I decided to rack it off into a clean demi-john and the bubbles have stopped completely. Do I need to re-start it or is it done? The SG is 1.07 and it does taste very sweet still so I’m thinking I need to give the starter bottle method a go, do you agree?
    I don’t want to lose this batch of wine as it tastes great and its my first time.

    • Hi Helen

      Certainly at 1.07 there’s a way to go and, as long as everything was clean as you say, no reason for it to stop.

      The starter bottle method should help. You may want to try using a general yeast that’s a bit more robust – I tend to use this Young’s Super WIne Yeast Compound and get good results with it http://www.brewuk.co.uk/young-s-super-wine-yeast-compound-60g.html

      Hope that helps, let me know how you get on. Good luck


  9. Hello, I too have the blackberry wine; its in the demi John’s, stored in warm bedroom. It tasted good already, but its not really doing much (no bubbles or fermenting) What can I do to help it along? Many thanks

    • Hi Emski

      Giving it a vigorous stir twice a day can help, the yeast like the oxygen.

      It may be that the sugar content of the bbs isn’t very high. This will depend on situation and weather. You can always jump ahead to add the sugar and see if this helps.

      If that fails, then you can use the starter bottle method of adding yeast which I’ve described earlier in the comments.

      Hope that helps, good luck


  10. My first demijohn of Blackberry & apple wine has just finished fermenting & I’m ready for the first rack-off. My query is, does it matter how much head space is in the receiving container. The one I got is an 8 litre kilner glass dispensing jar. That would mean about 4 litres of head space. Would I be better just getting another demijohn for racking, or will I be OK with what I have?

    • It’ll be ok to be honest. The danger is oxidation, but that’s more a function of the surface area exposed. A smaller vessel filled to the neck would have much less, but you could do that on second or later rackings if you fancy 🙂


  11. hi Carl

    Iv branched out into rhubarb wine aswell now, i must say it is very nice, i had a go at your home grown beer aswell, worked perfectly, thanks for the good recipes

  12. hi would you have a recipe for banana wine?just started wine making for the first time have plum and blackberry on the go thanks for tips on recipe

    • Hi Nick

      Use about 2kg of overripe bananas for 5 litres wine. Peel them and scrunch up and put 250g of the skins and 300g of raisins in a muslin/cloth bag. Add 5 litres of water to them in a big saucepan and bring to boil and simmer for 30 mins.

      In a fermentation bucket add the hot liquor to 1.5kgs of sugar and the juice of 2 lemons (chuck the squeezed lemons in too). When the cloth bag is cool enough to handle, squeeze all the liquor out into the bucket. When the liquid has cooled to room temp add amylozyme/amylase. This is an enzyme that converts the non-fermentable sugars in the bananas into something the yeast can work with. You can get it from homebrew shops/online easily. Just follow packet instructions. 24 hours later add yeast & nutrient. Cover with a cloth or plastic. It’ll get pretty frothy. Stri when you remember and leave a couple of months until it’s thrown a big sediment. Rack into a demijohn and then follow normal procedure.

      Let me know how it goes.


  13. Hello Carl,

    Made my first gallon of blackberry wine last September, and its still in the demijohn as still bubbling albeit very very slowly (not sure how slowly, as have better things to do than watching it!) Have racked 3 times, do I have to wait until completely stopped bubbling for bottling? Tastes great, altought a bit sweet for my taste, is there a way of making my next batch less so?

    Many thanks,

    • Hi Dazza

      You do need to wait for it to stop bubbling, if you bottle now you’ll have exploding bottles!

      The continued fermentation will convert the sugar into alcohol, which will make it less sweet.

      No problem to reduce the amount of sugar in the next batch. The minimum amount for best keeping is about 1000g per 5 litre demijohn. Hope that helps


  14. Hi, ive doubled the blackberries and water to make twice as much, do i double the sugar too, but not the yeast? Thanks, Andy.

  15. I am about to make this Blackberry wine again. I made it last year for the first time and opened our first bottles a month or so ago. The result, was/is I have to say, superb. Best country wine I’ve ever tasted. Now the challenge is on to collect enough blackberries for at least a double batch!! Thanks for the recipe and all the advice on here, really good blogsite.

    • That’s really good news and thanks so much for the kind comments. Good luck with your picking, it’ls certainly a bumper year 🙂

    • Hi Angela

      I’m so pleased you achieved a brilliant result and for your kind words. Hope you are having success finding lots of blackberries, it’s certainly a bumper year here.


  16. Hi Carl,
    I have started a batch of the blackberry wine, however their appears to be very little to no bubbles or foam in the first fermentation and it has been going for 3 days.
    Has my wine finished fermenting? or has something gone wrong? i ensured that everything was sterilised and washed..
    Any help will be a lifeline!

    • Hi Josh

      Sounds like it’s a bit slow getting going, certainly wouldn’t expect it to have finished fermenting so quickly and if it had, you’ve have froth all over the place 🙂

      What’s the ambient temperature like where you have it stored? And what yeast did you use and how old was it?

      If you’ve not got a hydrometer to measure the specific gravity of the liquid, the best thing to do is have a quick taste. If it’s still very sweet, then the sugars have not been converted into alcohol.

      If this is the case, then you could use the starter bottle method to get things going. I explained how this works to Kirsty in this earlier comment: http://www.carllegge.com/2011/07/blackberry-wine-recipe/comment-page-1/#comment-3436

      Let me know how you get on or if you need more help.

      Good luck


      • Hi Carl,
        Thanks for the quick reply,
        I used Generic wine yeast bought from wilkos about a week before i started the batch, the temperature is around 21-25C but after commenting i managed to wedge it precariously inside my airing cupboard and now it seems to be going much better, with a few patches of bubbles on top! its starting to smell like wine but i shall do as you say and taste it.
        Thank you for the quick reply and the recipe!

        • Sorry to comment again,
          but it looks like i am back to square one as the bubbles have now disappeared and only the seeds from the blackberrys are floating!

          • Hi Josh

            No problem.

            It may be that moving it, stirred in some oxygen which gave the yeast a boost. Then again…

            If you taste it and it feels slightly ‘petillant’ or fizzy on the tongue, it’s working. Keep it warm and stir once or twice a day to keep it well oxygenated.

            If it doesn’t taste at all sweet, it may be that there’s not much natural sugar in the blackberries you have used. In which case, adding some of the sugar into the mix would not hurt. Out of caution I say to people not to add the sugar to start in case they end up with stuff all over the place.

            A hydrometer is a very good investment for pennies for this sort of situation as you can tell how much sugar is in your liquid very easily. Might be a good investment, I think Wilkos do one for less than £3.

            to summarise: have a taste. If sweet, make a starter bottle up and get it going that way. Add the sugar after 4 days or so. If not sweet, add some or all of the sugar and use a starter bottle to get it going. The starter bottle takes the guessing out of whether you have good yeast and/or the liquid is fermentable as you know you have something that works going in. In any event, get a hydrometer and take measurements, it’ll show you how things are going.

            Hope that helps


  17. Thanks for posting this recipe. I have such confidence in it, have 30 litres in the first stage and it looks great!

    • Hi Barbara

      Thanks for your kind words, 30 litres just the right amount I find. We’ve just finished one lot and so harvest time comes just right. Do let me know how you get on.


  18. Hi Carl, I have just started a new batch using strawberries, one thing i never done last time was take the specific gravity, at which stage do you take the first reading please, as this time i think it will be good to know what strength it is lol

    • Hi Glen

      Strawberry wine is just gorgeous. Take the reading as soon as you start the ferment. This will give you the base reading & an indication of the strength if you ferment out all the sugar.

      Good luck


      • thanks Carl,

        I think i have caught the home brew bug now, so far I have tried blackberry, strawberry and the honey wine, all tasted fantastic, thanks for the reciepes. I think next i will be trying your home grown beer

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