Friday I cut up twelve pounds of plums (pitting them, but leaving the skin on). I found a great deal at the supermarket and decided it was time!
I found a recipe in Terri Garey’s book for “Plum or Nectarine” wine. It calls for crushing the plums with a potato masher. I tried that. I didn’t find it very effective. So, I just cut them up really thin, instead of in chunks. From the smell now, I think that was a fine decision. But it was only my first departure from the recipe.
Out of all the books I have read and people I have talked to, only Garey’s book suggests that one should finish dry and back-sweeten. I understand her reasoning – you can ensure (well, within reason) a fairly consistent end-product. Every other book suggests adding the right amount of sugar for the yeast to finish up, and leave more after they are done. It’s more of an art, and requires more knowledge of the yeast’s particular capabilities (yeast tolerance, life cycle, etc.). But back-sweetening is a pain in my book, though I have regularly done it to this point.
All that said, I decided to neglect the recipe’s instruction of 2 pounds of sugar to the gallon, instead going with 3 pounds per gallon. Twelve pounds of plums is enough for 3 gallons by the recipe, so I used 9 pounds of sugar.
With plums in a fermentation bag at the bottom of a fermenter (big bag!), I poured in a gallon-and-a-half of cold water. The rest of the water (another gallon-and-a-half, approximately) was put in a pan on the stove with the sugar, and heated. I didn’t bring it to a boil, just to the point where I could get it in solution well. I then poured the heated sugar-water over the plums. Doing it this way, I can much more quickly get to the point of adding the potassium metabisulfite.
Which is exactly what I then did. Using my “smidgen” measure, I added 3/20 tsp. potassium metabisulfite. I also added 3/8 tsp. of wine tannin, 3 tsp. of yeast nutrient and 3 tsp. of ascorbic acid. (Oh, I finally picked up some acid blend at Grape & Grains, yesterday…) The recipe of course called for acid blend, and the full dosing would have been 4.5 tsp. That much of ascorbic acid is likely too much, plus I ran out.
Yesterday morning I was ready to add the pectic enzyme, having waited the required 12 hours. At a 1.2 tsp. per gallon, I added 1.5 tsp. of pectic enzyme.
And that brings us to this morning. Opening the fermentation bucket, I was met with a glorious odor – sweet and plum-like, just as it should be. The SG measured 1.106, and I added the re-hydrated Pasteur Champagne yeast (1 dry packet).
So I can expect a couple days of stirring over the next week. Hopefully by this time next year I will have a couple bottles of my own plum wine to share!