Blackberry wine recipe

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.

Ingredients

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.

Method

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. 


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213 responses to “Blackberry wine recipe”

  1. Për Horden Avatar

    hi carl,
    been almost a year since i posted about my brewing but last night i tried the wine which has been in my cellar for all this time and it has turned out amazing!
    thank you!

    1. Carl Avatar
      Carl

      Hi Per

      I’m so pleased you had the patience to leave the wine: and even more happy that you’ve achieved such an amazing result. Very well done, it’s my pleasure to help 🙂

  2. Sharon Avatar
    Sharon

    Hi Carl, I have just racked off our blackberry wine for the 2nd time and it is still very sweet. However we havent seen any activity for a while and it did get cold when our central heating broke down a few weeks back. Should I do something to re-activate it? I have five demijohns on the go and feel slightly sick after syphoning off just one!

    1. Sharon Redshaw Haley Avatar

      Since posting this I have finished racking off all the demijohns and they seem to have started bubbling away again. I don’t know if this is just because they have been disturbed or no but will see how it goes

      1. Sharon Redshaw Haley Avatar

        Just had another look and nothing is happening. Any advice would be much appreciated! Thanks

        1. Carl Avatar
          Carl

          Hi Sharon

          There’s a number of things that could have happened here.

          The first is that the cold was too much and killed the yeast. If that’s the case, then you can restart the ferments by using starter bottle method in this comment http://www.carllegge.com/2011/07/blackberry-wine-recipe/comment-page-1/#comment-3436

          Obviously, you’ll need to keep the wine at a good temperature once the ferment has restarted.

          The wine might have got going again when you racked off the demijohns because the mixing in of air/oxygen gave whatever yeast was still alive a bit of help. The fermentation is an aerobic process That needs air to work, so mixing in air with a whisk or a paddle (sometimes mounted on a cordless drill!) can help.

          The other thing that may have happened is that the alcohol level of the wine is too high for the yeast to survive. If you took a reading with a hydrometer when you started the ferment and one now, we can work out what level the alcohol is. If the level is quite high, then some ‘General Purpose’ yeasts can’t cope. What you can do then, is to restart the ferment using a starter bottle (as above) but using a high alcohol tolerant yeast. You can buy these yeasts in home brew shops and on line.

          It doesn’t sound like you have any contaimination problems as the wine still tastes good (if a touch sweet).

          I hope some of these ideas will be a help.

          Let me know how you get on.

          Cheers
          Carl

  3. Richie Avatar
    Richie

    Hello Carl.. iam up nice and early and about to head down to the local store to get some Blueberries… i will spend my Sunday trying your wounderful recipe:-) I just have one question before staring. Is it neccessary to use pectric enzyme? I would like to make the wine as Organic as possible… is this just added to clear the wine?:-) Cheers

    1. Richie Avatar
      Richie

      .. Sorry simple mistake. Blackberries from the local store..:-) Sunday mornings!!!!:-)

      1. Carl Avatar
        Carl

        Hi Richie

        The pectolic enzyme (pectolase) is a natural ingredient derived from funghi that breaks down the cell walls. It prevents a pectin haze developing and can increase the yield of juice. It is possible to buy organically produced pectolase.

        You can just leave it out.

        Have fun shopping, make sure you got the right things 😉

        Cheers
        Carl

        1. Richie Avatar
          Richie

          Thanks Carl..I may try to make 2 gallons. 1 with and 1 without, just so I know the results of using pectolase.. blackberries may need to sit for a couple of days, not very ripe at the moment.. will let you know how it all goes. Great site. Spk soon:-)

          1. Richie Avatar
            Richie

            Please carl if you are avaliable could you please help me out. I have started a new batch with the correct size bucket:-) left the must in the bucket for 7 days, stiring as the recipe says. Today iv sieved into the demijohn and added the sugar. Its been sitting in the dj for around 8 hours but the foam is about to overflow into the airlock? I filled up to the neck and followed the recipe to a T. If it fills up the airlock its going to be awful. Do you know why this has happened and what my next step should be?

          2. Carl Avatar
            Carl

            Hi Richie

            Sounds like you still have a very active ferment there and it had a party on the sugar when it got to it. It’s a bit messy when it goes through the airlock 🙁

            Sorry for being a bit late to this. If it’s still a problem, you could tip the whole lot back into the bucket while it calms down and gets over the vigorous fermentation. Then pop it back into the dj with airlock.

            Let me know how it’s gone already or how you get on with that.

            Cheers
            Carl

        2. Richie Avatar
          Richie

          Hi Carl, I ended up having to top up the DJ with about 1 half litres of water as my brewing bucket wasn’t big enough to hold the 4.5 litres of boiling water at the begining stage.. do you know how this will effect the wine? Or any ideas how I can save it if there should be a problem with this amount of water being added at this stage? Cheers

          1. Richie Avatar
            Richie

            Hey Carl, thanks for the response:-) its seems fine now! I just poured some out before it reached the airlock and all is going to plan… will keep you posted how it turns out:-) thanks again

  4. Vickie Shelbourne Avatar
    Vickie Shelbourne

    Hello Carl. My blackberry wine has been racked twice now, looking gorgeously clear, tastes very fruity and alcoholic! (Alcoholic ribena) My 4 demi johns are bearly bubbling at all, so I presume it’s just a question of leaving it now for a few more months? Drank the sloe gin at Christmas, delicious with Cava…………..blackberry vodka also good. I made some rosehip vodka too, in September. This wasn’t so good. I haven’t strained it, so its quite murky and thick. Should I just leave it for a few more months to mature and do I strain it? It was good however, mixed with some apple juice!!!!!!!!!
    Any suggestions as to what other booze I can make now, or have I got to wait ’til Spring? I’ve got the bug now. Thanks to your wonderful site. Happy New Year!

    1. Vickie Avatar
      Vickie

      I’m ready to bottle the wine now. Can I use recycled screw top wine bottles do you think?
      Thankyou!

      1. Carl Avatar
        Carl

        Hi Vickie

        Great work – well done. Yes you can use the recycled bottles. It’s very important to make sure they are well cleaned and sterilised. If you can, do let me have a picture of your finished bottles 🙂

        Cheers
        Carl

        1. Vickie Avatar
          Vickie

          Thanks for such a quick response. Lucky I work in a Wine Bar eh? Do you have a recipe for parsley wine please?

          1. Carl Avatar
            Carl

            That is very handy indeed Vickie 😉

            I will email you the parsley wine recipe 🙂

            Carl

          2. Vickie Avatar
            Vickie

            Lovely thank you sooooooo much. Yes I’m getting the bug. My mum, in the ’70s, had upto 39 demi johns going at once. She says Parsley wine is very good. I’ve got her old note book, with comments, but the she didn’t write the quantities down. I’ll have a look at your new book. Wine Bar is above a book shop!

          3. Carl Avatar
            Carl

            Blimey!! 39 is a serious habit 😀

            I’ve only made the parsley wine once yonks ago – might be time to have another go with your recommendation in mind.

            Wine bar above a bookshop sounds perfect – I’d be in heaven.

            Cheers
            Carl

  5. Glen Avatar
    Glen

    Hi Carl

    i bottled me blackberry wine today after filtering (i got impatient). got to say it tastes good i tested the ABV and its about 10.5

    1. Carl Avatar
      Carl

      Good stuff Glen, well done. Hope you enjoy it. Now you know what to do 🙂

  6. Glenys Avatar
    Glenys

    Hi Carl
    Both my blackberry and elderberry wine, made in September, thanks to you, have been racked once and are now slowly bubbling away on my bedroom windowsill (faces south) do I leave, or rack again, if so when.
    Thanks again for all your help.
    Glenys

    1. Carl Avatar
      Carl

      Well done Glenys 🙂

      Leave it be for a while. What you’ll notice is that (slowly) sediment will collect in the bottom of the DJs and the wines should start to look clearer & brighter. When you see a good layer of sediment at the bottom, you can rack again. That’ll be weeks rather than a few days – just be patient. Continue to do this until the fermenting has finished (the wines will taste dry & no sparkle on the tongue, SG on a hydrometer will be below 1000) and the wine is clear and bright. The wine will then be drinkable and will improve with aging.

      Hope that helps

      Carl

      1. Glenys Avatar
        Glenys

        Many thanks, it is so nice to have someone to ask. How about a recipe for pineapple, they are sometimes very cheap on our market.

  7. Gerard Bunt Avatar
    Gerard Bunt

    Hi Rob,

    I have started to rack my wine, there is now a substantial gap at the top of the demi-john. What can i use to ‘top up’ the demi-john so to expel the air?

    Kindest regards

    Gerard

    1. Carl Avatar
      Carl

      Hi Gerard

      You can use clean water or a wine of similar kind. You don’t need to fill it right to the top as the surface area is not so great as to oxidise the wine.

      Cheers
      Carl

      1. Gerard Bunt Avatar
        Gerard Bunt

        Hi Carl,

        Many thanks. It is quite amazing how different the aromas are from each demi-john. I have eight on the go. One though has a distinct smell of ammonia, does this mean that it has gone over to the ‘dark side’?

        Cheers

        Gerard

        1. Carl Avatar
          Carl

          Hi Gerard

          Not necessarily. The yeast uses a form of ammonia as a food, it’s one of the constituents of the ‘Yeast Nutrient’. So you could be smelling traces of that. I’d tag the dj with a note and see how it progresses and do a taste test later on.

          Cheers
          Carl

          1. Gerard Bunt Avatar
            Gerard Bunt

            Will do Carl.

            Cheers

  8. Glen Avatar
    Glen

    Hi Carl

    I have racked my wine twice and both times alot of sediment is left, what would be the best way to remove as much as possible, filter etc? ty

    1. Carl Avatar
      Carl

      Hi Glen

      The best way is just to leave and then periodically rack it as you have been doing. The wine will improve as it ages and eventually will come out bright. You can filter it using a wine filter or coffee filters. It can take ages to do that and the filters can clog quickly when there’s lots of sediment.

      Hope that helps

      Cheers
      Carl

      1. Glen Avatar
        Glen

        hi carl

        Thanks for that

  9. pecospete Avatar

    Hello Carl … 2 months later … my wine is doing fine although I misread the article and racked 3 times by November so I’m way ahead of the formula… it tastes good =) although heady (nice) but a bit rough. Should I add more yeast and nutrient to continue fermenting or let it sit now? there is very little sediment left in it. I plan to buy a hydrometer soon to check … thanks again for your help

    1. Carl Avatar
      Carl

      Hi Pete

      Wine sounds well racked 😀

      I’d let it sit now if it tastes dry and fermentation stopped by itself. If it is dry, then all the sugars have been eaten by the yeast and converted into alcohol & CO2, so no point adding more yeast. You’ll only have to rack the dead yeast off… 😉

      The hyrdometer will be the best way of testing, a good investment if you plan to do more.

      Sorry it’s taken me a few days to get back to you.

      Cheers
      Carl

      1. pecospete Avatar

        Thanks again! cheers …

  10. Vickie Shelbourne Avatar
    Vickie Shelbourne

    This is going to be fun!! Or that’s what I thought……………I’ve now recalculated the ratio of liquid to yeast and think I have put too much yeast in. I doubled your blackberry recipe, therefore putting in 9 litres of water to 2 teaspoons of yeast………….got confused with all the grams, pounds, litres and gallons! Have I ruined it already? I started the process yesterday. Perhaps I just need to add more water????

    1. Carl Avatar
      Carl

      Hi Vickie

      Don’t worry – there’s not a lot of magic in the yeast amount. You need enough for it to get around, feed on the sugars and reproduce itself. As long as you have that (which you have) then it should be fine. of course, you need a high enough temperature (ideally >20C) for it to get going.

      Hope that helps

      Carl

      1. Vickie Shelbourne Avatar
        Vickie Shelbourne

        Thanks thats good news. This is a wonderful site, I’m going to enjoy this!

        1. Vickie Shelbourne Avatar
          Vickie Shelbourne

          Hello Carl, So far Im very pleased with my 2 DJs of Blackberry wine. They are clear and bright and have been racked once each. At the moment they taste of slightly fizzy ribena, but strong! They are hardly bubbling at all now so I hope that all sounds normal. I’ll just leave them now for a few more months. As Ive so enjoyed the process I’m dying to get going on making more wines. What can you recommend I can start making now at this time of year? Thanks for your advice earlier. You’re a reasssuring teacher!

          1. Carl Avatar
            Carl

            Hi Vickie

            Apologies for the delay in replying, been a bit busy here at Legge Towers 🙂

            Your wine sounds spot on indeed. Fizzy ribena is good at this stage. Just time needed now. And thanks for the kind words.

            Not a huge amount of seasonal fruit around at the moment to forage. How about having a go at barley, rice & raisin or honey wine.

            Here’s my recipe for honey wine http://www.carllegge.com/2011/11/ethiopian-honey-wine/ – there are lots of variations you can try at the end.

            Let me know what you decide.

            Cheers
            Carl

  11. kirsty Avatar

    Hello Carl
    You seem like the man to ask all wine questions 😉 …. I have just made Hawthorn wine (my first attempt at wine also) ….. the first demijohn is fizzing fast and bubbling every 7 seconds and bright pink in colour. I made a double batch a week later (2 gallons) and just transferred to demijohns yesterday, its orange in colour and although strained though a jelly bag there is lumps inside the wine looking revolting … they are also not bubbling yet also but the room is 20 degrees. I used 1 teaspoon of yeast (said it was sufficient from 4.5 to 22.5 litres) is the cloud the yeast not yet working its magic ??? or have I gone wrong ??!!
    Thank you

    1. Carl Avatar
      Carl

      Hi Kirsty

      I’m not sure your faith is entirely well placed… 😉

      Let’s see…

      Hawthorn has a high level of pectin and it could be that the lumps are related to that. I’m just making some rowan wine and used some pectolic enzyme before I started the ferment which breaks down the pectin. The pectin can create a haze (or lumps!) in the wine and stop it from becoming bright and clear. The pectin would have been in solution when it came through the jelly bag and has precipitated out now. Without seeing the wine, this at least seems plausible.

      Sometimes with the bigger quantities it can take a bit longer for the ferment to obviously start. This is not least because the bigger mass of liquid takes longer to come up to ambient temperature. So my first tip would just be to leave it as is for another 48 hours. Just to ask, you did add sugar to it, I’ve forgotten before? 🙂

      If it doesn’t start you can make up a ‘starter bottle’. Take a wine bottle or similar and clean/sterilise it as normal. Use a funnel an pop in a teaspoon or so of wine yeast. Add 20-50ml of pure orange juice (lemon/apple etc) and then add your wine nutrient dissolved as normal. If you don’t have nutrient use a teaspoon of marmite/malt extract/sugar. Top up to half full or so with cooled boiled water and pop in a warm place. Allow this to get going for 24-48 hours.

      Tehn add half of you bottle to a clean demijohn and add 2 litres of the non-fermenting wine. This should start to get going with the active starter. Give it 24 hours and, if all is well, combine the working stuff with the rest of the wine and you should be off. Just make sure you split the working ferment between your two djs evenly. Top up your starter bottle with more orange juice & nutrient and keep in the fridge. You can use this to start all of your wines if you like.

      If this doesn’t work, you may have something wrong with the hawthorn juice. You could then use some campden tablets or similar to kill off any wild organisms and try the starter bottle again after a day or so.

      Hope this helps, please let me know how you get on.

      Good luck
      Carl

      1. kirstyp Avatar

        Hi Carl
        Thanks for the fast and great advice ! …. I was not expecting such a quick reply so I did experiment with one of them … tut …. probably a big mistake but I mixed half a teaspoon of wine yeast to warm water then added to the demijohn, think ill leave this and see what happens !!!! its has a foam top and has started to slowly bubble.

        The other and untouched demijohn is now ok and started to bubble … I have today learnt that wine making is about patience ! …. this demijohn is bubbling, there is a foam produced at the top and this is working its way up into the airlock ! I have washed it out once already but is creeped up again, is this normal ?
        What surprised me is the single demijohn made a week previous has no foam and fizzing beautifully.

        (Both the new demijohns are now pink in colour from orange this morning)

        In addition I made 2 demijohns of a red (blackcurrants, elderberries, sloes and black berries) and this bubbles slowly so seems ok.

        Would I benefit from a heat pad ?

        Thanks for your help ! I am new to wine making but very much enjoying it so far 😉
        Regards
        Kirsty

        1. Carl Avatar
          Carl

          Hi Kirsty

          You do seem to be having fun 😀 Well done with all your produce.

          A heat pad would be a good investment to help you keep a good & consistent temperature. I’m actually using a seed propagator for my little lot 🙂

          Keep me up to date with how you’re getting on.

          Cheers
          Carl

  12. S Avatar
    S

    Hi Carl

    We have 3 gallons on the go, this is the first time I have made it. The first gallon has been in the demijohn for a couple of weeks and initially was bubbling away but the sugar was all in the bottom. Today i have strained the other two gallons into the demijohns and this time I stirred the sugar once the juice was in. I have since stirred the original once and the sugar has dissolved but the wine has stopped bubbling now. Have I messed it up? The two new ones are bubbling away like crazy!

    Love the website!

    Sharon

    1. Carl Avatar
      Carl

      Hi Sharon

      Thanks for the kind words, it means a lot – thanks 🙂

      It may be in the original one that the yeast ran out of food and gave up.

      Pop some more yeast & nutrient in it and see if it gets going. If not, I can guide you through using a starter bottle to restart the ferment. All is not lost, you should be fine 😉

      Cheers
      Carl

      1. Sharon Avatar
        Sharon

        It has got going again although slowly but it was two weeks ahead of the new lot. I am just about to strain the last 2 gallons and we will then have 5 gallons on the go, there has been such a bumper harvest of blackberries this year!

        1. Carl Avatar
          Carl

          Good news Sharon. It’s what we get for using natural ingredients – a certain unpredictability. A brilliant harvest, hope you are having fun 🙂

          Carl

  13. KevG Avatar
    KevG

    Hi just a quick question….having racked wine off the sediment, into a second… Should it be kept somewhere warm or can I move it to a cooler cupboard that is not heated?

    1. Carl Avatar
      Carl

      Hi Kev

      Once the fermentation is done (no bubbles or the reading on a hydrometer below 1.000) then it’s best to go to a cooler place if possible so the sediment can settle out and the wine clear.

      Hope that helps

      Carl

      PS Sorry for late reply – I rescued you from spam – it’s normally good once I’ve approved a couple #Grrr

  14. KevG Avatar
    KevG

    Hi. Probably stupid question time, but does the temp need to be maintained at 20-25 degrees or after racking off into second DJ can I move it to a cupboard, which at the moment is about 15 degrees… But will get cooler as winter moves in as it is not heated

  15. Dwr Avatar
    Dwr

    Hi Carl I’ve done everything as instructed and all is well apart from one little hiccup when I placed the sugar into the DJ and and gave it a swirl it looked as if the sugar had dissolved but it’s now 24hours later and it’s all bubbling away but noticed most of the sugar hadn’t dissolved and has fallen to the bottom and just wondering should I attempt giving it a good shake again or would this affect the fermentation?

    1. Carl Avatar
      Carl

      No probs.

      Give the DJ a good swirl (rather than a shake) when you’re passing it and it’ll eventually dissolve. It actually will help the fermentation as it’ll increase the oxygen the yeast get to see.

      Hope that helps

      Cheers
      Carl

      1. Deb Avatar
        Deb

        Hi, this is my first attempt but I’m sure I have gone wrong somewhere, I’m at the stage where I have strained and added the liquid to demijohns with the sugar. I’ve woke this morning with what appears to be mounds of something covering the what I hope is wine. The wine is also cloudy. I’m aware this a result of something I have or have not done but please help. What is the mound and how do I clear the wine…..or shall I start again lol

        1. Carl Avatar
          Carl

          Hi Deb

          The yeast and bits of fruit etc will tend to pile up on top because of the action of the carbon dioxide gas being produced. And cloudy now is to be expected, will take a while to clear – once fermentation finished.

          Give it a stir, be patient and allow the fermentation to finish. Then follow the recipe 🙂

          Cheers
          Carl

  16. Yvonne Derby Avatar
    Yvonne Derby

    Hi just started blackberrywine. Still in bucket and have added sugar instead of yeast. Will this be ok or will I have to start again? Can I add yeast and leave in bucket for 4 days before putting in DJ.?

    1. Carl Avatar
      Carl

      Hi Yvonne

      Whoops – you’ll be fine. Add the yeast, but make sure there’s room for it to bubble away. The only reason for starting it that way is to try and get a less vigorous starting fermentation.

      Crack on though, you should be fine 🙂

      Cheers
      Carl

      1. Yvonne Derby Avatar
        Yvonne Derby

        Thank you so much Carl xx

  17. Stephen Avatar
    Stephen

    Hi Carl , ive made 3 batches in 5 gallon barrels , the 1st one i was told by a wine maker to pass use a cloth to strain it , since doing that ive had no bubbles for 4 days , but the others i used a colander tor remove the waist and within a hour i had bubbles been going crazy since .. so im wondering if ive removed the yeast from the 1st batch with using the cloth as a screen ?
    Can this be restarted by adding more yeast or time for the bin ?
    cant wait to try it
    please help

    1. Carl Avatar
      Carl

      Hi Stephen

      Crikey, you really have gone for it, that’s a lot of wine 🙂

      Strange with the ‘dead’ one. Try giving it some more yeast & nutrient and see if it perks up. There is a slightly more complicated way of rescuing the brew if that doesn’t work. Hopefully it will, if not, let me know and I’ll explain the method.

      Good luck

      Cheers
      Carl

      1. Stephen Avatar
        Stephen

        Hi Carl , thanks for the info , i will try and re add more yeast m nutrients today .. I only made a large batch so it would see me and my friend though out the year . will let u know how i get on .
        Do i have to wait a day for the nutrients before adding the yeast again ??
        Thanks for your help fingers crossed

        1. Carl Avatar
          Carl

          Hi Stephen – yeast & nutrient can go in together 🙂

          1. Stephen Avatar
            Stephen

            All in its fizzy away already , Cant wait to see them bubbles start , Roughly how long does it take to finish to be able to drink , this is the first time ive made wine from fruit ..normally kit form 30 day ones .so im completely new to this ..
            Cheers for the help

          2. Carl Avatar
            Carl

            Hi Stephen

            The time can vary a lot depending on the conditions the wine is stored in and how long the fermentation takes to finish. I’d say 6 months minimum really and it will improve greatly in taste, clarity & brightness the longer it’s left.

            Carl

          3. Stephen Avatar
            Stephen

            Hi Carl , May have a slight problem with that batch i had to re add yeast , after a week i used they hydrometer its showing up ready to bottle(990) , but it looks rather cloudy , where my others are no were near ready(50) . any ideas ?

          4. Carl Avatar
            Carl

            Hi Stephen

            That’s gone quite quickly. How does it taste? If it still tastes sweet then perhaps hydrometer cracked? If dry then you’re getting the right reading and it had something (localised heat?) to make it go quicker or you didn’t add extra sugar?

            My inclination would be just to leave it to take its course. Put somewhere cool and allow it to clear naturally.

            Let me know

            Cheers
            Carl

          5. Stephen Avatar
            Stephen

            Hi Carl . No its had no extra heat than the other 2 barrels , ive used two hydrometers both say the same , it tastes like bramble vodka . very alcoholic , so im well confused n lost just have to see what happens when its clear , thanks for all the advice . 🙂

  18. Kinga Avatar
    Kinga

    Hi Carl,

    I have now added sugar and my wine is frothing away like mad. I think I may have overfilled it and some wine froth entered airlock. Should I remove the airlock and clean it or leave it as it is?

    Many thanks for your help in advance. Kinga

    1. Carl Avatar
      Carl

      Hi Kinga

      It can get a bit frisky 🙂

      Just clean out the airlock and carry on..

      Cheers
      Carl

      1. Kinga Avatar
        Kinga

        Thanks very much.

  19. Glen Avatar
    Glen

    hi carl

    Just an update, I have 3 batches of strawberry wine on the go, one with home grown strawberries the other two are from the local fruit and veg stool, the only one that is *strawberry colour is the homegrown completely organic batch, the other two are sort of a milk shake colour lol, the two blackberry batches i have are both very blackberry looking, the only thing i can think of for this is the bought strawberries must be treated with something thats causing the milkshake look.

    1. Carl Avatar
      Carl

      Interesting! 😉

      1. Glen Avatar
        Glen

        hi Carl

        My first batch of blackberry wine has slowed to one bubble per min, is this normal after 5.5 weeks,. if the bubbles stop do i still need to strain into a second dj or just sython off the sediment straight into bottles? when you say 6 months is ideal to leave the wine do you mean after bottling of from start of the second fermetation

        1. Carl Avatar
          Carl

          Hi Glen

          That sounds about right. I’d strain (rack) off into another demijohn. Keep an air lock on as it will probably just work very slowly on fermenting. Which means if you put straight into bottles, you could have an explosion.

          Have a taste when you strain. If it’s still sweet there’s more sugar to convert. Also, if you can feel a faint ‘fizz’ on the tongue (the posh French/wine word is ‘petillant’) there’s still CO2 being produced. This last stage can take a while, patience is a virtue.

          The 6 months is from bottling. It’s a guide. I tend to leave my wine in the dj/barrel/bin. Then periodically have a little taste to see how it’s progressing. The I decant/bottle when I’m happy with it. Obviously, the amount of gear you have may be a limitation on this.

          Hope this helps, you’re doing great 🙂

          Cheers
          Carl

          1. Glen Avatar
            Glen

            hi Carl
            cheers for that. for that il get onto the racking in the morning,

  20. Steve G Avatar
    Steve G

    Hi What was your starting SG – I forgot to write mine down, currently stop fermenting so racked off sediment for the second time, final SG reads 0.994 so need the ball park starting SG to work out the strength. Thanks

    1. Carl Avatar
      Carl

      Hi Steve

      OG was 1100 on mine, hope that helps 🙂

      Cheers
      Carl

      1. Steve G Avatar
        Steve G

        Cheers Carl – That would make mine 14.4% ABV!! I could sell it to NASA!! I don’t think mine was that high??, I reckon it was around the 1085 mark, the recipe I used was almost exactly the same as yours above though so it could have been that high I Guess. Many thanks Steve G

        1. Carl Avatar
          Carl

          Pleasure Steve – hope you enjoy the wine 😀

          Cheers
          Carl

  21. easternvalleyvoyager Avatar

    Hi Carl,
    I made my first home-brew wine last year with grapes from the garden and it’s turned out ok, probably wants a bit more keeping as quite dry. This year I’ve picked loads of blackberries to try a blackberry wine, so am very glad to have come across your blog which I think is fantastic, really helpful. My brother suggested added some grape concentrate to the recipe and lemon juice to give it more body. I notice your recipe doesn’t use either so wonder what your thoughts are on this and if it is ok to use, at what point should I add them?

    1. Carl Avatar
      Carl

      Hi there

      Well done with the grape wine, our grape vines still need to get bigger so we have enough for a wine harvest 🙂

      The grape concentrate & acid will add body/vinosity to the ferment. I often use raisins instead of the concentrate in fruit/flower wines & added lemon juice for just that reason. In my experience, the blackberry really doesn’t need the help as the finished wine is full & rich. Adding them won’t harm things, add them before you put in the yeast.

      Hope that helps

      Carl

  22. Richard Avatar
    Richard

    Had a catastrophe, some how managed to add red cabbage to my batch. I’d say 60% blackberries and 40% red cabbage I didn’t realise as I added the frozen clumps to boiling water and blended. Just tasted some with the sugar added and it doesn’t taste horrendous. What should I do?

    1. Carl Avatar
      Carl

      Hi Richard

      Oops! 😉

      You may have invented sauerkraut wine 😀

      I’d strain the brew & carry on, realising that you may have some wasted work. You’ll see what happens. If it’s good all the better: if not, you’ll not make the same mistake again.

      The cabbage might put a mustardy taste (what gives brassicas some of their flavour) into the wine, so I’d look out for this taste developing.

      If it tastes bad at any stage, bin it.

      Hope that helps. Sorry for the late reply, I found you in my spam comments. Which you’re not 🙂

      Cheers
      Carl

      1. Richard Avatar

        It got worse, it was spiced red cabbage. With onions and cloves…

        I tasted some and it wasn’t horrendous. Its fermenting away now so going to see how it turns out. I don’t know how we didn’t spot it. It was all frozen in a clump and we just assumed it was blackberries and dumped it in the bottom of the bucket then added the real blackberries which had already thawed and poured on boiling water.

        1. Carl Avatar
          Carl

          Hahahaha Richard, you may have invented sauerkraut mulled wine…

          There’s a long line of traditional wines/meads with spices in (can’t remember any onion though…)

          Please keep me posted 😀

          Cheers
          Carl

  23. Danny Avatar
    Danny

    Hi Carl,

    Im making my first ever 2 gallons of wine following this recipe.

    I added the yeast 1 week ago. The next day it was really frothy, when i’ve been stirring daily it was fizzing a bit but it isn’t bubbling at all!

    So im at the stage of transferring to demijohns and adding the sugar but im worried to on case somethings gone wrong!

    Do you think its stopped fermenting already or will it start properly once the sugars added?

    Hope you can help!
    Danny

    1. Carl Avatar
      Carl

      Hi Danny

      Fizzing sounds good. Go ahead with the transfer and adding sugar and see how it goes. It should be fine.

      Even if the ferment has stalled, I can tell you how to get it going again. So no worries 🙂

      Let me know

      Cheers
      Carl

      1. Danny Avatar
        Danny

        Ok, so I added the sugar and did the transfer last night anyway.

        It’s now been over 12 hours and there’s a lot of froth and bubbles out of the airlock about 5 or 6 times a minute.

        So it is fermenting! But is this too slow?! (the temps around 20 C)

        Thanks again,

        Danny

      2. Danny Avatar
        Danny

        Hi Carl,

        I tried to leave a repy but i dont think its gone through :-/

        I added the sugar and did the tansfer last night anyway.

        More than 12hours later and it’s really frothy on top and theres a bubble leaving the airlock 5-6 times a minute!

        So it is fermenting, but is this too slow?! (temp has been steady 20 C)

        Thanks again,

        Danny

        1. Carl Avatar
          Carl

          Hi Danny

          For some reason the initial post got spammed, not sure why that should be. I’ll keep an eye on it for a while.

          That sounds just fine to me, frothy is good & 5-6 times a minute good also. There are all sorts of variables that can affect the rate of gas production so no worries about yours in comparison to some of the other comments.

          Temp is great at 20C

          Keep going 🙂

          Carl

          1. Carol Avatar

            It seems like my bubbles have slowed down as well. (I am day 3 of the 4 to 7 day before adding sugar). I haven’t been taking the temperatire daily. Should I be? If yes, what should it be? Sounds like to will get more frothy when I add sugar? Thanks Carl

          2. Carl Avatar
            Carl

            Hi Carol

            Sorry for the delay, been doing photoshoot for my book the last 2/3 days. Fun but knackering…

            No need to take the temp daily unless you suspect wild variations. Best temp is in range 20-25C if possible.

            It will indeed get more active when you add the sugar…

            Sounds like you’re doing great 🙂

            Cheers
            Carl

  24. Glenys Avatar
    Glenys

    Hi
    Wonderful web page
    Is it OK to use screw top wine bottles with tops (as I have a lot) instead of corks?

    1. Carl Avatar
      Carl

      Hi Glenys

      Thanks very much 🙂

      Yep, no probs at all – just make sure everything is well cleaned and you’ll be fine.

      Cheers
      Carl

      1. glenys Avatar
        glenys

        Thanks, haven’t mad wine for about 30 years and have forgotten most of it,
        do I use all of the little packet of yeast for I gallon or just a 5th, also can I use your blackberry recipe for elderberries?

        1. Carl Avatar
          Carl

          Hi Glenys

          I normally use about 1 teaspoon dried yeasst per gallon if that’s a help and there’s no instructions on the packet.

          As long as the liquid has just enough yeast to get things going it will multiply in the liquid if it has good things to feed on like the sugar 🙂 You should (depending on your temperature where you’re fermenting) see some bubbles of carbon dioxide forming and hear the bubbles within 24 hours or so,

          You’ll need about 1.5 kilos (3 pounds) of elderberries for a gallon of wine. Strip the berries from the stalks using a fork and you are good to go with the same method.

          Hope that helps

          Cheers
          Carl

          1. Glenys Avatar
            Glenys

            Thanks so much, fantastic help, will let you know how things go, or if I get into trouble again,
            getting old now and forget things but there is so much fruit around this year pity not to use it
            thanks again

      2. Glenys Avatar
        Glenys

        is it possible to use Milton for bottles and jars etc.?
        don’t shout at me if this is very wrong.
        blackberry wine now bubbling away well thanks

        1. Carl Avatar
          Carl

          Hi Glenys

          I’d never shout at anyone for asking, it’s the way we find stuff out 🙂

          Milton sterilising solution should be fine, just make sure you give the bottles/jars etc a good rinse.

          To be honest, some fermenting types say that just normal soap & water clean is good enough. When I’m doing short keeping stuff like flower champagnes that’s what I do. When you’re doing wines for longer keeping, the risk to all the effort is greater, so the use of a sterilising solution is a small investment of time & money.

          Hope that helps. Good stuff with the wine so far 🙂

          Cheers
          Carl

  25. SteveTheDingle Avatar
    SteveTheDingle

    Hi Carl

    Thanks for the recipe – by far the easiest and clearest to understand on the internet. I picked 4.3kg of blackberries over the weekend. I have taken on making 2 gallons (I have frozen the remaining blackberries to make an apple & blackberry wine once this one is transferred to the demijohns) and am in the primary fermentation period and all seems to be going well.

    I am new to the winemaking experience and I’m intrigued and excited at the whole thing. I have also put a request out to family and friends for as many apples as I can lay my hands on… as I’m going to have a crack at producing some cider / scrumpy too.

    Thanks again Carl.

    1. Carl Avatar
      Carl

      Hi Steve

      Thanks so much for those very kind words, it means a lot to me 😀

      Glad to hear all is going well – apple & blackberry is very good too.

      Scrumpy/cider a treat to brew & much less faff than the wine. You could also have a try at apple cider vinegar too: I have a recipe here http://www.carllegge.com/2011/09/fermenting-revolution-2-apple-cider-vinegar/

      Good luck and let me know how it goes

      Cheers
      Carl

      1. SteveTheDingle Avatar
        SteveTheDingle

        Hi Carl

        I have transferred the wine into the demijohns now and within an hour or two it went from being quite dormant to ballistic! It is now bubbling more than 80 times a minute and has been for two days now. I understand that there is a lot of sugar to convert but is that rate of bubbling normal?

        Cheers

        1. Carl Avatar
          Carl

          Hi Steve

          Yep 😉

          Sounds good. The initial fermentation is often very vigorous and quite noisy. You’ll get used to the bubbling creating a background to the day. It’ll calm down after a few days.

          It’s temperature dependent too, so if it’s right next to a hot radiator etc it’ll go faster. I try to keep things around the low to mid 20sC if possible. Our ambient is about 16C at the moment, so things a bit slower. I use a seed propagator as a multi-use form of ‘bottom heat’ rather than the wine making heat mats.

          Cheers
          Carl

          1. SteveTheDingle Avatar
            SteveTheDingle

            Hi Carl. I thought it about time to give you an update… i racked the wine in November and again last weekend. I took a sneaky taste and it only bloomin’ gorgeous!! Not quite as dry as I’m used to drinking but gorgeous all the same AND if I have taken my hydrometer readings correctly It has got to 15.25% ABV which I am very pleased with. I am 90% certain that fermentation has stopped but I am tempted to stop it for sure and bottle it… what do you think?

            Cheers
            Steve

          2. Carl Avatar
            Carl

            Hi Steve

            That sounds excellent. Has the SG gone below 1000? If so, no reason why you shouldn’t bottle it. Very pleased you like the taste 😀

            Cheers
            Carl

  26. teri Avatar
    teri

    hiya, can the pectic enzyme go in cold or does it have to be warm but not above 21*. fell asleep! ! good start aye

    1. Carl Avatar
      Carl

      Hi Teri

      It can go in at room temp no probs. You’re meant to fall asleep after you’e made it & drunk it, not before 😉

      Cheers
      Carl

      1. teri Avatar
        teri

        lol I no. thanks 4 that!! 🙂

  27. dan Avatar
    dan

    This is looking good for me I have done it slightly short with 1.7 frozen but have added 2 bananas to increase the body of the wine. What doyou recomend fermenting down untill? Or alternatively backsweetening to for a medium wine

    1. Carl Avatar
      Carl

      Hi Dan

      See my comment below on finishing ferment & tests/signs http://www.carllegge.com/2011/07/blackberry-wine-recipe/comment-page-1/#comment-3248

      I prefer the dryness of the red wine, but adding a sweetner is cool if you prefer the taste. You could think about adding a campden tablet to make sure that fermentation has stopped before you add back the sweetness or to stop the ferment once you have the desired taste.

      Hope that helps

      Carl

  28. Edwina Maddock. Avatar
    Edwina Maddock.

    hi carl, we are trying your receipe tomorrow we have 7 killograms of blackberries. are we best using containers to make the wine 3.5 killograms in each. would really appreciate your advice on this. Thanks Edwina

    1. Carl Avatar
      Carl

      Hi Edwina

      That’s a good load you’ve picked there 🙂

      I think the important bit of your question got missed there.

      If you’re asking whether you can start things off in more than one container, the answer is yes 🙂

      If I’ve got the wrong end of the stick, just come back to me – I’ll do my best to help.

      Good luck

      Carl

  29. pecospete Avatar

    Hi Carl,
    Easily picked 2Kg of blackberries today … still missing some ingredients. Other methods call for Campden tablets … are they necessary? Thanks in advance!
    pecospete

    1. Carl Avatar
      Carl

      Hi Pecospete

      The campden tablets kill off any wild yeasts present on the fruit so that you start with a ‘sterile’ fluid. This means there’s nothing to spoil the wine yeast you add or contaminate the brew.

      I used them when I first started, but gave them up as I felt I could taste a slight ‘chemical’ edge to the wines. I’ve never had a problem with wines spoiling using the method I’ve written up.

      So it’s up to you really 🙂

      Let me know how you get on.

      Cheers
      Carl

      1. pecospete Avatar

        Thanks Carl, much appreciated. You mention the wine will be clear – is there a way to color it? one would think blackberry wine would be dark purple =)
        cheers!

        1. Carl Avatar
          Carl

          Ha! The English language is a terrible thing 😉

          For others reading who perhaps do not have English as their first language…

          By clear I meant that it would not be cloudy, it’ll be a purply red colour and you’ll be able to see right through it.

          Thanks Pecospete 😀

          1. pecospete Avatar

            Oh Excellent! meanwhile, I rinsed my berries prematurely and there’s a bit of mold on them now … I’ve picked out the ‘bad apples’ – will it spoil the bunch?
            Many thanks!

          2. Carl Avatar
            Carl

            Sorry for the delay Pete…

            To be safe, you’d probably be wise to use the appropriate amount of campden tablets for the quantity you have. This will kill any wild yeast?bacteria and you can start the ferment clean.

            Let me know how it goes

            Carl

  30. Glen Avatar
    Glen

    hi, how long would you recommend to leave fermenting before the final bottling process? and will this recipe work for other fruits?

    1. Carl Avatar
      Carl

      Hi Glen

      There are a lot of variables which affect this. It’s likely to be at least 3 months in my experience. What you are after is two things.

      First, the fermentation needs to be finished. Otherwise you’ll continue to produce CO2 & your bottles could explode or pop corks out. You can tell this by sight, no bubbles through air lock; taste, no prickle on the palate; and testing – using a hygrometer (easy & inexpensive on line or in brew shops) to measure specific gravity which will be below 1.000. The hygrometer is the most accurate.

      Second, you want the wine to be clear before you bottle and this often takes a while (again depending on temps etc). The yeast cells and minute bits of fruit etc fall to the bottom. You ‘rack’ the wine off these deposits as the wine ages.

      Hope that makes sense.

      I keep a notebook with recipes and what happened to each batch of wine. After a while, you’ll build up a feel & the experience to know how things are going with an individual wine if you make much at all 🙂

      Cheers
      Carl

    2. Carl Avatar
      Carl

      Sorry Glen, I missed your last question there.

      Yes it will work for other fruits, the basic method is the same.

      Have a look at this reply I gave to Sam, where I described the basic system: http://www.carllegge.com/2011/07/blackberry-wine-recipe/comment-page-1/#comment-3213

      Hope that helps

      Carl

      1. Glen Avatar
        Glen

        thanks Carl, I thought i might aswell have a go this year as theres loads of blackberry bushes just over the road, I have been meaning to for the last 3 years but only just got around to trying it, and as for the other fruit it was a bumper year for strawberries on the allotment

      2. Glen Avatar
        Glen

        hi Carl, I have just transferred my blackberry wine into a 5L dj, there’s enough excess to fill to standard 75cl wine bottles, do i place sugar in these if so how much?

        1. Carl Avatar
          Carl

          Hi Glen

          About 20g would be about right I think, I used cotton wool & some cling film & an elastic band as an air lock for wine bottles. It’s very important that the CO2 can escape to avoid explosions 😀 You can then use the spare wines to top up the bulk after you’ve racked.

          ANd re your previous comment, strawberry wine one of our favourites. We have a batch just started.

          Cheers
          Carl

          1. Glen Avatar
            Glen

            hi Carl
            I transferred my strawberry ferment to the dj, its frothy on top but no bubbles yet roughly 24 hours later, its been at a constant temp on a heating mat

          2. Carl Avatar
            Carl

            Hi Glen

            Leave it another 24 and see how it goes. A few questions just in case:

            How was it before you put it in the dj?
            Did you strain of the fruit/lumps 😉 before you put in the dj?
            What sugar have you added at each stage?

            Cheers
            Carl

          3. Glen Avatar
            Glen

            hi carl

            It had finighed the frothing stage, passedthe fermentation through a filttering funnel into the dj, i placed the 1.5kg of sugar in the dj, exactly as i done for the blackberry and thats bubbling away well

          4. Carl Avatar
            Carl

            Sounds great Glenn, give it another 24 to see how you go. If not, we’ll tickle it into life 🙂

          5. Glen Avatar
            Glen

            thanks il keep you posted 🙂

          6. Glen Avatar
            Glen

            Hi Carl just an update on the strawberry, I woke up this morning and we have life, bubble bubble

          7. Carl Avatar
            Carl

            Hi Glen

            Phew! That’s great news. I think they’re a bit like looking after pets… 😉

            Cheers
            Carl

  31. kev G Avatar
    kev G

    Just started a gallon of this going with 1.9KG of Blackberries picked from a wild bush growing in my neighbours hedge. I think I ought to share a bottle with him when its ready!!!

    added a slack handfull of Logan Berries I had in the freeezer from my garden and will be using a port wine yeast as it seemed like the right thing to buy from the local home brew shop.

    brewed kit wine and beer before, but not a wine from scratch, so will keep you updated

    Kev G

    1. Carl Avatar
      Carl

      Sounds very good Kev 🙂

      Some of my best wines have been mixed berries from the freezer stash. I look forward to see your progress.

      Cheers
      Carl

  32. Për Horden Avatar

    hi again,

    i have gone a bit mental with the wine making, we found a massive and i mean massive load of blackberry bushes on some wasteland near my house.

    we have managed over about 4 hours over a couple of days to collect 10 1/2 kg of berries, and there is so many more!

    i had an idea which has proved to be genius, i went to a kebab house and asked if they had any empty vegetable oil containers and was given 3 all with handles and lids. they were very smelly and oily but after a night in the bath with bleach and alot of cleaning and a tub of homebrew sterilising powder later i have 3 20l barrels.

    i have used your recipe but doubled it to make 9 litres in each barrel but i put 4kg of berries in one rather than 3.5 as an experiment.

    so for and grand total of £1.65 for the yeast and £7.92 for the sugar and £1.45 for sterilising powder and £1.45 for pectic enzyme i estimate to have around 45-50 bottles of wine

    thats £12.47 for everything

    and if it all comes out ok it works out at 24.9p per bottle,

    again will let you know how it goes

    thanks man

    1. Carl Avatar
      Carl

      Hi Per

      Sounds like you’re doing great 🙂 And I love the recycling you’ve done with the veg oil containers, great work.

      The homebrew is such good value for a high quality product – it does make great sense to use some of the natural bounty around us.

      Please do keep me up to date.

      Cheers
      Carl

  33. Eric Sheldon Avatar
    Eric Sheldon

    I like the idea of having two separate fermentations for better flavour, and just this evening embarked on the first part of your recipe: picking 1.7 kg of blackberries, crushing them (in a slow juicer – lazy, I know) and adding boiling water to the result in a fermentation bucket. I held back 1.7 litres of the water, though, since I wonder whether adding the sugar to the mixture in a demijohn would cause the yeast to blow the cork and airlock through the ceiling. I plan to do the second fermentation in another bucket, after adding the sugar dissolved in the remaining 1.7 litres, and let the fermentation calm down a bit before transferring it to the demijohn. Can you reassure me that the second fermentation is sedate enough to risk letting it take place in a demijohn?

    1. Carl Avatar
      Carl

      Hi Eric

      From this distance I’m not happy to do that as there are a large number of variables involved 😉 Best to be safe if this is the first time and be cautious. Next time you make you can always change things.

      Also, the extra oxygen you’ll add when transferring from second bucket to demijohn will help the fermentation.

      Let me know how you get on.

      Cheers
      Carl

      1. Eric Sheldon Avatar
        Eric Sheldon

        The first fermentation was very slow, and released quite a strong smell of ketones, but I let it continue for a few days in the bucket before adding the remaining 1.7 liters of warm water in which I’d dissolved the 1.5 kg of sugar. Fermentation is not exactly volcanic, so you’re right about it being OK to do the main fermentation in the demijohn. I’ll try doing it your way next year!

        1. Carl Avatar
          Carl

          Hi Eric

          Good to know how it’s going. The experience of how it all works in your own place is invaluable.

          Looking forward to hear your progress.

          Cheers
          Carl

  34. Sam Avatar
    Sam

    Hi,

    A lot of other Blackberry wine recipes I’ve seen ferment the natural and added sugars all at once.

    I was just wondering what the benefits were to fermenting the natural sugars first and the the added sugars in the demijohn?

    Look forward to hearing from you soon.
    Sam

    1. Carl Avatar
      Carl

      Hi Sam

      In truth it can be done either way.

      I like to think of the first fermentation as a ‘flavour & colour extraction process’ and the natural sugars are enough to get the process going gently. This means you’re less likely to have a frisky first ferment frothing all over the place with messy fruit to clear up.

      Once you’ve extracted the flavour/colour from the natural berries then you can go into the main fermentation and add the other sugar and allow the fermentation to take off.

      It’s a principle you can then apply to making wines (and beers) from other country ingredients: extract flavour/colour; ferment, rack one or more times; store/age; drink & enjoy.

      I think this way gives a slightly better result and has the benefit of the gentler first ferment.

      If you wanted, you could control the alcohol strength by taking Specific Gravity readings as you go and gradually adding the sugar until you have your desired level. Certainly when I make big batches (I’ve just started a 30 litre blackberry) this is my preferred method. Again, the more progressive approach yields a slightly better result I think. (I may be wrong of course ;))

      In some cases you can kill a ferment when tryng to make a very strong wine by adding all the sugar at the beginning, certainly when using a standard yeast. There are special yeasts that can cope with high sugar concentrations, but every yeast has a level beyond which it will not work. In these cases, adding the sugar in stages is the best method. Obviously, that’s not the case with this blackberry wine.

      I hope that’s a help to my thinking.

      Cheers
      Carl

      1. Sam Avatar
        Sam

        Makes perfect sense. Thanks for the clarification. Will definitely do it your way.

        Also, thanks for the great guide. It’s by far the best on the internet for Blackberry wine. Long and detailed while at the same time being easy to understand for a novice. I suspect you get a surge in readers of this post around this time of year 🙂

        Look forward to making the wine. I dabbled with a couple of kit wines a few years ago but have never made one from scratch. Our area is literally heaving with Blackberries and no one seems to be picking them, so despairing at the underused bounty around me, I looked in to ways to use some of them leading me to your blog.

        Have added your blog to my favorites anyways because a lot of what you talk about interests me.

        Thanks again!

        1. Carl Avatar
          Carl

          Hi Sam

          Thanks so much for that feedback, it’s made my day 😀 It encourages me to blog more, I really appreciate that.

          The post is one of my most read – along with the vegetarian haggis and how to make sourdough bread!

          Good luck with your wine, let me know how it goes.

          Cheers
          Carl

  35. Aiden Avatar
    Aiden

    Really great post 🙂

    When you say “slightly more or less will make no difference” with regards to the amount of Blackberries, how much tolerance do you think there is either way while still making a good wine?

    I managed to pick 1.3kg of ripe blackberries today and am wondering if that will be enough?

    1. Carl Avatar
      Carl

      Hi Aiden

      Thanks very much 🙂

      You’re about 25% shy there. That will make a lighter less intense wine. My more or less meant (about) 10-15%. You have a few options: pop the 1.3 in the freezer until you can collect some more, top up with another berry/fruit you can forage/buy or make a lighter wine.

      Hope that’s of some help. Come back if you need to

      Cheers
      Carl

      1. Aiden Avatar
        Aiden

        Carl,

        Thanks for the reply.

        I went out today and picked up the difference 🙂

        Fingers crossed it turns out good!

        Cheers,
        Aiden

        1. Carl Avatar
          Carl

          Well done Aiden, let me know how you get on 🙂

  36. Për Horden Avatar

    collected 4kg of juicy blackberries today and i will be trying your reciepe tomorrow, will keep you informed

    1. Carl Avatar
      Carl

      Thanks for letting me know Për, hope it goes well for you 🙂

  37. eleanorduckworth Avatar

    Did you ‘rack the wine off’ into a new demi john? How much? And then the extra ferment goes in…presumably a later blossoming bottle of wine…? Thanks

    1. Carl Avatar
      Carl

      Hi Eleanor, thank for popping by and for your commments. I did rack the wine off into a new demi-john and filled this up to the ‘shoulder’ of the dj. The extra goes in any spare container you mat have that you can put an airlock or improvised airlock onto. I think I used a normal 750ml wine bottle with some cotton wool in and some cling film over this held on loosely with an elastic band. Obviously you need to choose your container depending on the amojnt you have left.

      I hope that’s answered your questions. If not, come back to me and I’ll try and do better 🙂

  38. eleanorduckworth Avatar

    Well, the wine is in the demi john now and awaits it’s second fermentation. Thanks for the recipe – will follow your lead on the November/March racking and see how it goes. Season of mellow fruitfulness I quite agree!

  39. Mitch Avatar
    Mitch

    Racked my wine again, is still bubbling gently. Bit fizzy, will this pass do you suppose? Poured myself a good measure, is very sweet, can imagine it with soda. Lovely flavour. Trying to be patient.
    How is yours doing?

  40. Carl Legge Avatar
    Carl Legge

    Hi Joanna & Choclette

    The blackberry wine truly is delicious. A 15 year old wine, well kept would have been truly amazing. How would you describe the taste?

    Thanks both for coming by again 🙂

    Carl

  41. Choclette Avatar
    Choclette

    Another trip down memory lane. My grandfather used to make all sorts of wines and blackberry was one of the best. A few years ago we found one lurking in my mother's attic that must have been at least 15 years old – totally delicious.

  42. zebbakes.com Avatar
    zebbakes.com

    Picked a dog bag full of the first fat blackberries yesterday. Even earlier than last year.Small plums plopping all over the field at Badocks Wood – I reckon another week and then blackberry picking can start in earnest here.

  43. Carl Legge Avatar
    Carl Legge

    Hi Mitch

    I'm sure there will be enough berries to go round. It is fun though how your perspective on what's around you changes when you forage. It opens up all sorts of new opportunities.

    Let me know how you get on.

    Cheers
    Carl

  44. Mitch Avatar
    Mitch

    Oh I am so looking forward to making this… my son got rather a sharp response from me yesterday when he showed me his 'pruning' of our thornless blackberry… Dozens of flowers fell to the ground and my first thought was 'oh no, not my wine'!
    I ought not count my bottles before they are racked.
    Thanks for this recipe,
    Love Mitch

  45. Carl Legge Avatar
    Carl Legge

    Hi Jane

    That's a nice idea. My guess is that the sweet potato has more moisture in it than floury potatoes. I bet the colour was fantastic 🙂

    Tomato sauce sounds really good, it's so nice using your own home grown stuff.

    Thanks for popping by again 🙂
    Cheers
    Carl

  46. tea with hazel Avatar
    tea with hazel

    by the way carl i used your recipe to make nettle gnocchi on saturday but i used sweet potato..they were delicious but they were a little dense even though i tried not to be heavy handed..i made a tomato sauce from tomato puree i bottled in the summer adding garlic, black olives and capers..i felt the richness of the gnocchi was counterbalanced by the the salty earthy flavours of the olives and capers..i do want to try them again but i think i will use ordinary potato next time..jane

  47. Carl Legge Avatar
    Carl Legge

    Hi again Jane, alchemy the right description 🙂

    Thanks for visiting

    Cheers
    Carl

  48. teawithhazel Avatar
    teawithhazel

    ah..love this alchemy with foraged food turned into nectar of the gods..jane

  49. Carl Legge Avatar
    Carl Legge

    Hi Gregoire

    My pleasure, it's well worth the effort. Have fun.

    Salut!

    Carl

  50. Gregoire Michaud Avatar
    Gregoire Michaud

    Stunning! That is something I must absolutely try! Thanks a lot for sharing 🙂

    1. Rob Weston Avatar
      Rob Weston

      Hi Carl,

      Such wonderful guidance! I’m just starting this recipe. I do have one question though. I made a gallon of Blackberry wine using another recipe which seems to have ground to a halt.
      I made two mistakes I think, well, one mistake and perhaps one guide which may not have helped.

      First mistake was, the recipe called for a camden tablet, VitaminB1 nutrient tablet, some 3k of sugar and some yeast nutrient to be put in the mashed up bucket of berries.
      I accidently confused this and ended up putting in the camden tablet, and a spoonful of VitaminB1 nutrient rather than one tablet. There was a pretty nifty smell after which was a bit odd.

      It bubbled for a few days in the demijohn after straining off and then stopped.
      I tried a re-starter but no good. Should I throw this way now?
      Going to crack on with your recipe now!

      Many thanks. Rob

      1. Carl Avatar
        Carl

        Hi Rob

        Thanks for the kind words, very much appreciated 🙂

        The smell may have been sulphur from the campden tablet http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campden_tablet

        I think the reason the ferment may not have worked is because of the sugar content.

        3kgs is an awful lot for a gallon of wine and would produce a very strong (poss 20-30%) wine. Most standard wine yeasts are killed by that concentration of sugar. Special high sugar tolerant yeasts are used to make strong sweet wines.

        You could try this. Dilute the liquid with an equal amount of water and divide between 2 demi-johns. You’ll then have the equivalent of 1.5kg/gallon as in my recipe. Add yeast nutrient and yeast and carry on. Depending on your fruit content you may end up with a lighter wine.

        It may well work. If not you will not have lost much.

        Let me know how it goes if you try it.

        Cheers
        Carl

        1. Rob Avatar
          Rob

          Hi Carl,

          Many thanks for this! I actually made another batch but this time with no sugar, after 5 days I strained it off and when I checked it it tasted very dry.
          I mixed the two together thoroughly, added yeast and some nutrient and 500g of sugar and popped them into two demijohns.
          That was last night and this morning they are both bubbling away merrily so far! Fingers crossed!

          Rob

          1. Carl Avatar
            Carl

            Hi Rob

            That sounds like great news – hope they continue to do well for you.

            Cheers
            Carl