Making Wine From Rhubarb

RHUBARB AS A BASIC INGREDIENT

Rhubarb is a very versatile ingredient for making wines that may be used alone — with additives to assist fermentation — or with a variety of other fruits to produce a profusion of recipes for some really outstanding wines. The advantages of rhubarb are that it is cheap, plentiful and has a long season, especially if you happen to grow it yourself as, in my view, anybody with a small garden that gets the sunshine for a few hours a day should do.

The characteristic flavour of rhubarb prevents us imitating commercial products when it is used alone, but blended, as in the recipes, with other fruits a wide variety of wines similar to commercial products can be made.

Making Wine From Rhubarb Wines containing the flavour of rhubarb, however slight this may be in certain finished wines made from the recipes here, are in my view better for being dry to medium. But I am well aware that many people must have their wines sweet regardless, so I include a sweet recipe for each blend of ingredients.

RHUBARB WINES

Resembling rieslings

DRY

900 g (2 lb) rhubarb; 450 g (1 lb) sultanas; 2 grapefruits (or equivalent tinned); 675 g (1 ½ lb) sugar; 3 dl (½ pt) freshly made strong tea (or pinch grape tannin); few drops Pektolase; good wine yeast and nutrient; water as in method

MEDIUM

900 g (2 lb) rhubarb; 450 g (1 lb) sultanas; 2 grapefruits (or equivalent tinned); 1 kg (2 ¼ lb) sugar; 3 di (½ pt) freshly made strong tea; good wine yeast and nutrient; water as in method

SWEET

1.125 kg (2 ½ lb) rhubarb; 450 g (1 lb) sultanas; 3 grapefruits (or equivalent tinned); 1.125 kg (2 ½ lb) sugar; 3 dl (½ pt) freshly made strong tea; good wine yeast and nutrient; water as in method

METHOD

Wipe the rhubarb with a damp cloth, cut them into chunks 2.5 cm (1 in) long, being careful not to lose any juice, and then bruise them well with the end of a rolling pin or a similar implement. Put them in the fermenting vessel with the chopped or minced sultanas and add the the grapefruit juice strained free of pips. The fleshy parts can go in. Having done this, pour on about 2 ½ ltr (4 pt) of boiling water and give the mixture a good stirring.

Put the sugar in about 1.2 1 (2 pt) of water in a saucepan and bring it slowly to the boil, stirring constantly to prevent burning. When the sugar is thoroughly dissolved and the resultant syrup is boiling pour it into the mixture and give another stirring. Cover well and leave to cool to about 18°C (65°F) — lukewarm. Then add the tea, yeast and nutrient. Cover the vessel with sheet polythene and tie this down tightly (or fit the lid). Put the mixture in the warm to ferment for ten days, stirring daily.

The next step is to strain the wine through three or four thicknesses of muslin. Press the pulp as dry as you can, clean the fermenting vessel and return the strained wine to this. Add the Pektolase, cover as before and leave in the warm to ferment for a further five or six days. Do not stir during this time.

Having done this, pour the wine carefully into a 5 ltr (1 gall) jar, leaving as much deposit in the pail as you can. If the jar is not filled to where the neck begins, fill to this level with boiled water which has been allowed to cool a little. Then fit a fermentation lock and leave until all fermentation has ceased.

WINES INCLUDING RHUBARB

All these should be dry, but many will want them medium to sweet as well — so here goes. Use tea (tannin) and acid only where advised.

1 CLARET TYPE

900 g (2 lb) rhubarb; 900 g (2 lb) tinned blackberries; 225 g (½ lb) sultanas; few drops Pektolase; ¼ pt freshly made strong tea (or pinch grape tannin); good wine yeast and nutrient; sugar: for dry use 900 g (2 lb); for medium use 1.125 kg (2 ½ lb); for sweet use 1.225 kg (2 ¾ lb); water as in method

2 ANOTHER CLARET

675 g (1 ½ lb) rhubarb; 450 g (1 lb) dried currants; ½ level 5 ml spoonful citric acid; few drops Pektolase; 3 dl (½ pt) freshly made strong tea (or pinch grape tannin); good wine yeast and nutrient; sugar: for dry use 775 g (1 ¾ lb); for medium use 1 kg (2 ¼ lb); for sweet use 1.125 kg (2 ½ lb); water as in method

3 ROSE STYLE

675 g (1 ½ lb) rhubarb; 900 g (2 lb) blackcurrants; 225 g (½ lb) sultanas; few drops Pektolase; good wine yeast and nutrient; sugar: for dry use 900 g (2 lb); for medium use 1.125 kg (2 ½ lb); for sweet use 1.225 kg (2 ¾ lb); water as in method

4 ANOTHER ROSE

900 g (2 lb) rhubarb; 675 g (1 ½ lb) loganberries (or 900 g (2 lb) tinned); 225 g (½ lb) sultanas; few drops Pektolase; 3 dl (½ pt) freshly made Strong tea; good wine yeast and nutrient; sugar: for dry use 775 g (1 ¾ lb); for medium use 1 kg (2 ¼ lb); for sweet use 1.125 kg (2 ½ lb); water as in method

5 A SPECIAL WINE

900 g (2 lb) rhubarb; 450 g (1 lb) dried prunes; 1 ½ dl (¼ pt) freshly made strong tea (or pinch grape tannin); ½ level 5 ml spoonful citric acid; good wine yeast and nutrient; sugar: for dry use 900 g (2 lb); for medium use 1.125 kg (2 ½ lb); for sweet use 1.225 kg (2 ¾ lb); water as in method

Note Soak prunes overnight in enough water to cover, bring to boil slowly and simmer until cooked. Add to rhubarb in fermenting vessel as advised in method for other fruit.

6 LIGHT, FRESH ROSE TYPE (dry only)

450 g (1 lb) rhubarb; 225 g (½ lb) sultanas; 450 g (1 lb) tinned’prunes; few drops Pektolase; 3 dl (½ pt) freshly made strong tea (or pinch grape tannin); 1 5 nil spoonful citric acid; good wine yeast and nutrient; 900 g (2 lb) sugar; water as in method. The flavour of this one is not strong enough to make a medium or sweet wine, but it is a lovely dry wine.

7 A DELIGHTFUL WHITE WINE

(best as a dry wine)

675 g (1 ½ lb) rhubarb; 450 g (1 lb) sultanas; 900 g (2 lb) gooseberries (or equivalent canned); 3 dl (½ pt) freshly made strong tea; few drops Pektolase; good wine yeast and nutrient; sugar: for dry use 775 g (1 ¾ lb); for medium use 1 kg (2 ¼ lb); for sweet use 1.225 kg (2 ¾ lb); water as in method Note The tea will colour the wine slightly, so if you want a really pinky-white wine without a hint of gold in it use ½ level 5 ml spoonful grape tannin.

8 A DELICIOUS CLARET

(best when made dry)

1.1 kg (2 ½ lb) rhubarb; 225 g (½ lb) dried elderberries; 225 g (½ lb) raisins; few drops Pektolase; good wine yeast and nutrient; sugar: for dry use 900 g (2 lb); for medium use 1.125 kg (2 ½ lb); for sweet use 1.225 kg (2 ¾ lb); water as in method

Note Thoroughly wash the elderberries in several changes of water. Then put them in about 6 dl (1 pt) of fresh water, bring slowly just to boiling point and then add in the same way other fruits in the method.

METHOD FOR RECIPES 1-8

Before you begin, see notes under recipes 5 and 8 about the preparation of prunes and dried elderberries.

Wipe the rhubarb sticks with a damp cloth, cut them into pieces 2.5 cm (I in) long, being careful not to lose any juice, and then bruise them well with the end of a rolling pin or a similar implement. Put them in the fermenting pail with the chopped sultanas or raisins (depending on the recipe) and then add all the other ingredients except the yeast, nutrient and Pektolase. Having done this, pour on about 3 ½ ltr (6 pt) of boiling water and stir vigorously at once to dissolve the sugar. Do not forget to add the jilice of the tinned fruits.

Cover closely and allow the mixture to . cool to about 18°C (65°F) — lukewarm — and then stir in the yeast, nutrient and Pektolase. Cover the vessel with sheet polythene and tie this down tightly with thin strong string (or fit the lid). Put in a warm place to ferment for ten days or, where dried elderberries are being used, for only five days. Stir daily.

The next step is to strain out the solids through three or four thicknesses of muslin and to wring out the pulp as dry as you can. Clean the fermenting pail and return the strained wine to this. Cover as before and leave in the warm to continue fermenting for a further four of five days, or ten days where dried elderberries are being used.

Having done this, pour carefully into a 5 ltr (1 gall) jar leaving as much deposit in the pail as you can. The jar will not be full, so fill to where the neck begins with boiled water that has cooled well, then fit a fermentation lock and leave until all fermentation has ceased.

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