The black currant is a small shrub native to northern Europe and Asia. The fruit is an edible berry 1 cm in diameter and almost black in color. When ripe, these berries have a sweet, sharp taste that allows them to be made into jam, juice and wines, in addition to flavorings for pastries and ice cream.
I rediscover my love for black currants last week when I was making some dry oak aged black currants, reminiscent of a very good Cab Sauvignon. At that time, I also made an absolutely amazing fortified black currant dessert wine. This will do wonders at Christmas dinner tables of people lucky enough to be able to get some.
It’s rich and super fragrant aromas very hard not to like. Your typical black currant wine has a deep, rich purple color which is almost opaque. It is a very complex wine that is perfectly balanced. Flavorful taste with ample tannins making it age worthy and able to pair with most meats, much like you would pair a medium bodied quality red wine with hearty fair.
To be quite honest, I love black currants so much, I have decided to plant an acre of them on my property this coming spring. So I am doing some research these days on which varieties of black currants will grow well where I live, spacing required between the rows, pruning methods, growing them organically, etc, etc.
This web page may give you a bit of information to get you started: GROWING BLACK CURRANTS
At full capacity, an acre of black currants should get me at least 2500lbs. This will make a LOT of wine as a pound of the berries will go a long way due to their very strong flavor concentration and high acid. It needs a lot of dilution, hence can be “stretched” a fair amount.
Black currants are a very versatile fruit and can be made in a variety of wine styles, from a light sparkling rose, to an oak aged dry wine all the way to an intense, very sweet fortified dessert wine. Of course this entails that many types of winemaking procedures need to be followed in order to produce the various wine styles. The scope of this blog article will not allow me to go over every style but I will focus on making an off-dry quite full bodied black currant wine suitable for a 1000L size batch. Of course, it can be scaled back to a home winemaking size batch by simply dividing the ingredient volumes by the batch size you need to make.
Off-Dry Varietal Black Currant Wine
• 350KG Fresh Black Currant berries
• 170 KG granulated sugar or 220L Invert Sugar
• 40 ml Fructozym P or 50g Lafase Fruit
• 400g Diamonium Phosphate
• 240g Fermaid K
• 250g EC-118 yeast or D-71
• Some neutral “blending wine” may be required
Method of Production:
1. Crush and press the fruit, pump juice into tank
2. Add sugar, top up to 1000L. Adjust specific gravity to S.G. 1.090-92
3. Measure acids and adjust to a pH of 3.0 to 3.5 and T.A. of around 7-8 g/L.
4. Add enzymes at temperature of 20’C, let must stand for 6 hours or so.
5. Add DAP and Fermaid to the must.
6. Pitch in rehydrated yeast.
7. After wine has started to ferment, stir daily
8. maintain a fermentation temperature of 18-21’C throughout the initial fermentation process (1.090-1.025)
9. At S.G 1.020 – 1.010, skim off surface any solids
10. Rack wine at S.G. 1.000
11. Once wine has finished its fermentation (< SG 0.996), stabilize with KMS (add 50-60 PPM)
12. Rack the following day and fine with Bentonite (75 g/HL), gelatin and Isinglass as per standard additions.
13. Chill the wine to 0’C
14. Rack after 15-20 days and filter to 0.8 micron
15. Measure FSO2 and adjust to 60PPM.
16. Adjust acid to a TA of 7-8g/L (with potassium carbonate if needed to lower or addition of malic to increase)
17. When wine is properly aged and developed (4-8 months), do final adjustments (blending, SO2, TA, pH, SG, RS, etc)
18. Adjust Residual Sugar of wine to 40-45g/L
19. Sterile filter to 0.45 micron.
20. Conduct all stability tests and adjust if needed
21. Bottle the wine
• May need to blend finished wine with some neutral apple, pear or white grape base wines to adjust final taste profile. I feel that if any is used, it should not be any more than 15% of the total volume.
• If wine proves to be too astringent or tannic at stage #17, a further heavier dose of gelatin may be required to lower tannic levels.
• Small amounts of glycerin may be required at stage #18 to add body depending on your taste
The above recipe produces a fine wine that will get anyone who tastes it to instantly fall in love with the fruit…pretty much like I did.
I would love to hear your stories on black currant wine production or take a look at your own recipe formulations, better yet, would love to taste some of your wines, just drop me a note.
Until then, happy winemaking!