Clove and Ginger Wine

13/11/2016 CJJ Berry First Steps in Winemaking.

30g Cloves, 1.5kg sugar (I used various to give some depth of flavour) 30g ginger, 3 limes, 1 orange, yeast and yeast nutrient.

The ingredients were put into the fermenter and stirred twice daily until getting strained into the demijohn on 18/11/2016. This was under the stairs for a while so was fermenting quite slowly and wasn’t racked until 27/4/2016.

This photo was taken on 6/5/2017 and shows how deep it is in colour. It is taking a long time to clear and on siphoning, it had a strong taste of cough sweets (looking forward to my medicine)


Janet and Johns Apple Tree Cider

18/11/2016. CJJ Berry First steps in winemaking.

First, we stripped the apple tree bare, which yielded round about 15kg of apples and then I froze them. After a few days, they were defrosted and put through the food processor and then into the fermenting bucket. There were a few pears and plums too but they all went in together. I used 2 oranges by rinding and then squeezing the juice into the mixture and adding water up to 23 litres.

12/12/2016 siphoned into pint bottles with swing top lids with half a teaspoon of sugar for the fizz.

I don’t have any photos of these but i can tell you that they  were cloudy and even when all sediment was at the bottom of the bottle, the reaction of opening them is enough to mix it all up again. Care must be taken when opening these as they are more than sparkling and will explode out like a shook up can of pop or lager.


Strawberry Wine

Made on 25/10/2016 using recipe (with a twist) The recipe asks to use red grape concentrate but I used pineapple juice instead.

2kg strawberries, 1kg sugar, 250ml pineapple juice, 1 cup cold black tea, yeast nutrient, citric acid, pectolase, dried active yeast.

I use an old nappy bucket with a lid as my primary fermenter before transferring to the demijohn.

Pour 4 pints of boiling water over the fruit and then add the sugar. Leave overnight and then add the rest of the ingredients along with 2 pints of cold water. Wait 3 days (it should start bubbling after 24 hours) and strain it into a demijohn. Any bits going into the demijohn will fall to the bottom eventually. Top up to the shoulders with cold water and add an airlock (Wilkos £3 for 2 pack)

I strained mine into the demijohn on 29/10/2016 and put it under the stairs. As it was coming up to winter, the fermentation process slowed right down on all my wines and I eventually got round to moving upstairs into the airing cupboard where it was a bit warmer. I racked it for the first time on 17/3/2017. Racking wine is the process of siphoning the wine from one demijohn into a newly sterilised demijohn and this leaves most of the lees (dead yeast and any other bits) in the old container where it will not contaminate the wine.

 This photo was taken 6/5/2017 and shows the clarity of the wine. What you can’t see is the lees at the bottom of the demijohn.

A new hobby

In March, 2016, I tried home-brew wine for the first time and I liked it. It was my neighbours wine and he wanted me to sample it because he doesn’t like wine and makes it to give away to friends.

I decided that I would give it a go myself because I like to do things with a definitive before and after and as I like a drink, I thought this would be a great idea. I went online to find recipes and found several websites. I got a recipe from for a potato wine with the mind-set of – how could it go wrong, it looks so easy? well, it did go wrong and after months of waiting and racking, it still looked like water / sludge from the river Tees.

I had already started a different recipe (onion) from the same website and found that this one was clearing quite nicely. When I started, I didn’t write anything down apart from dates on the demijohns so have no official records of times, amount of racks so a lot of this comes from a somewhat hazy memory. Anyway, after months of waiting and racking at least twice I counted my losses and the potato wine got poured down the sink but I didn’t give up.

The onion wine was coming along nicely and even though everyone that heard what I was making, pulled THAT FACE, the end result was quite remarkable. It was stronger than any wine that I’ve ever drank in both ABV and in flavour. The astonishing thing about the flavour was that it doesn’t taste of onions at all. I found it to have quite a flowery taste and this amazed me. A new hobby was born.

I made several last year before I started making notes on recipes and dates and even photos, which are the newest edition. I made; Potato (down the plug hole), onion, mint, rice and raisin, chai tea, beetroot, elderflower, parsnip, ginger, watermelon and rhubarb.

I have enjoyed all the wines that I have made so far and am still making mistakes as I am relatively new to this and very impatient to try the end result. I currently have 17 demijohns’ on the go with different wines and have made my own scrumpy and ginger beer. I am also experimenting with flavoured vodka and gin so my wife really must have the patience of a saint.

The transformation of the bottles became semi-professional over this first year and evolved naturally as I got became more involved and started giving the wines to family to share. They started off in second-hand screw-lid bottles with the labels soaked off  and white hand written labels stuck on to having my own labels on the bottle and eventually having corked bottles to having the shrink-wrap over the lid too. This became really apparent when I took half a dozen bottles to a family members birthday party / house-warming and they were all lined up.

So far, I have been quite greedy and have drunk most of the evidence and have only kept one bottle of some of the wines to see how they age but now I am going to keep a diary of what I am doing, when it’s done, any photos and even what they taste like. Watch this space….