Currant Wine ~1929

Currant Wine Recipe.


The bounty of summer is upon us! Time to think about making fruit wines. A week or so ago, one of the young men working at the famers market asked the lady in front of us if she’d like some free strawberries and handed her a flat – told her she could freeze them and make smoothies.

Smoothies are okay, but wine is better!

I’ve never made currant wine, but did make June berry wine about 2 years ago. Finally opened it up this past winter, and boy! Was it strong!

This particular recipe is interesting because it pre-dates yeast inoculation, but only be a couple of decades.

Louis Pasteur was actually commissioned by the French government to figure out why some wines turned out well and others soured. That’s my kind of commission!  His work would lead to the role of yeast in the fermentation process, and Pasteur would go on to become known as the ‘Father of Microbiology’.

Back to the recipe itself…

One of the interesting steps in the recipe above is to include a cup of brandy at the outset. My first thought was: This will kill all fermentation. My second thought was: This will kill all fermentation.

My speculation is that the brandy killed off most of the wild yeasts in the mixture, allowing for a new wild yeast to inoculate the batch. In effect, it probably acted something like the sodium metabisulfite, or Camden tablets,  you pitch into the wine to kill any wild yeast before adding the cultured yeast.

The recipe calls for adding a cup of brandy to the end product. Also a way to preserve wine and probably achieved the similar desired effect in preserving wine and killing any additional yeast that we get when adding potassium sulfate (and also upped the alcohol content…)


More Fun Discoveries from Antique Cookbooks


Source: The Delaware Register, June 27, 1829.

6 thoughts on “Currant Wine ~1929

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  1. It’s amazing how wines have been made for thousands of years but we’ve only understood the science behind it for 150 or so. From alchemy to chemistry!

    Inmates make fruit wines in prison by swiping fruit from the dining facility. It’s called “pruno” and it can fetch a pretty high price on the yard.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, indeed! The chemistry is super involved. Would love to take a formal course and learn more of the nuances. From this excerpt we learn that brandy can solve many of the wine Maker’s woes- heck, why bother making wine? Let’s just do Brandy!


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