How to Make Ginger Wine.
Today’s post is an update on the ginger wine project started back in January.
Ginger wine is traditionally made from ginger and raisins and first appeared in Britain in the 1740s. The wine can be fortified with brandy or cognac, or even diluted with lemonade. An interesting historical note: There was a widely held belief at the time that ginger wine helped prevent cholera, and sales would always increase during cholera outbreaks. To this day, fans of ginger wine tout its medicinal properties.
Mulled ginger wine is a holiday favorite in some circles. To that end, I’ve started a 5 gallon batch that ‘should’ be ready by this time next year to gift to family members.
Here’s the original ginger wine recipe:
From what I have been able to find, white race ginger refers to a plant root native to Great Britain. We don’t have that here, so I’m using regular ginger. There’s a very real possibility that it will come out too strong. Oh well. Also leaving out the egg whites. They would have been used to fine, or clear, the wine. We have chemicals for that, yeah! The lemons are used for their citric acid, which helps balance a wine. I’ve always had trouble when I add lemons to fruit wines, because, well, it makes wine taste like lemon. Pucker up! To that end, we adapt the present recipe for only 2 lemons, zested and squeezed, and substitute acid blend instead for the other lemons, which is a balanced additive of malic, tartaric, and citric acids and should help make the final product more drinkable.
Now, seven gallons is too much for me and not a standard size for winemaking these days, so I adjusted the recipe down to 5 gallons. Also made some additional adjustments from my more contemporary home winemaking book and by scouring the interwebs for ginger wine recipes, changes as follows.
- 6 oz. ginger root, chopped
- 3 cups mixed raisins, chopped
- 2 lemons, zested and juiced
- 10 lbs sugar, dissolved in water
- 5.3 gallons water, boiled and cooled
- 5 tsp. yeast nutrient
- 1 tsp. pectic enzyme
- 2.5 tsp. acid blend
- Champagne yeast
- Campden tablets
Sterilize the equipment, boil the water, dissolve the sugar, add all of the ingredients to a primary fermenter (a.k.a. food-grade plastic bucket) minus the yeast. 24 hours later, add the yeast and then the waiting begins…
Moved to the primary fermenter, happily bubbling away.
Month Four Racking Update
At the end of four months, I placed the 5 gallon carboy on a table and siphoned off the wine into a clean 5 gallon carboy (racking). There was some oily residue on top of the original. I’ve had this happen a few times when using raisins, and I think it is from something the raisin manufacturers use. There were also 2, 750 ml wine bottles with ‘extra’ wine that I used to top off the new 5 gallon carboy. Dosed with potassium metabisulfite to kill off any funkies growing.
The plan is to rack one more time before bottling around the September mark.
Raking day lets us taste the wine’s progress, and golly-gee-whiz, this wine is STRONG. It’s ginger all the way, completely overpowering the raisins. I’ll be curious to see how it develops.
If it stays this strong, it’ll be perfect for sushi, fish, and rich Asian fusion dishes.
More to follow…
Source: The complete English cook; or, Prudent housewife. Being, a collection of the most general, yet least expensive receipts in every branch of cookery and good housewifery, with directions for roasting, boiling, stewing [etc.] … together with directions for placing dishes on tables of entertainment: and many other things equally necessary. The whole made easy to the meanest capacity, and far more useful to young beginners than any book of that kind extant, 1770.
Whew! What a title!