How to brew cherry wine

Brewing cherry wine at home can be a fun and rewarding hobby, but it does require some time and patience.

using cherries to make wine

Here is a basic guide on how to brew cherry wine:

  • Gather your ingredients: You will need cherries, sugar, yeast, water, and wine making equipment such as a fermenting container, an airlock, a hydrometer, and a siphon.
  • Prepare the cherries: Clean and pit the cherries, then crush or mash them in order to release the juice. Smash them into a pulp as you would making a cider
  • Add sugar: Add sugar to the cherry juice to reach a specific gravity of 1.085 to 1.090. This will give you a wine with an alcohol content of around 12%.
  • Add yeast: Add a suitable wine yeast to the mixture and stir well (more below on the best yeast to use).
  • Fermentation time: Transfer the mixture to a fermenting container and add an airlock. Allow the wine to ferment for at least 2 weeks, or until the specific gravity reaches 1.000.
  • Rack the wine: Once fermentation is complete, transfer the wine to a secondary fermenter and rack it, which a means means to remove the sediment. Allow the wine to sit for another 2-3 weeks to clarify. This step is optional but great to remove floaty bits. 
  • Age and bottle: Once the wine is clear, transfer it to bottles and let it age for at least 6 months to a year. The longer you age the wine, the better the flavor will be.
  • Enjoy: After the aging process, your homemade cherry wine will be ready to enjoy.
It's important to note that the process of brewing cherry wine can be quite complex, and it's recommended to follow a more detailed guide or recipe and to use a wine making kit. 

It's also important to sanitize all equipment before starting and to monitor the progress of the fermentation regularly.

making cherry wine guide

Here are a few tips to make your cherry wine taste better:

  1. Use high-quality cherries: Use ripe, sweet cherries that are free from blemishes, mold, or rot. The better the quality of the fruit, the better the quality of the wine.
  2. Add spices: Consider adding spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla to enhance the flavor of the cherries.
  3. Use the right type of yeast: Use a wine yeast specifically designed for fruit wines. This will help to bring out the best flavors of the fruit.
  4. Age the wine: The longer you age the wine, the better the flavor will be. Allow the wine to age for at least 6 months, but ideally 1 year.
  5. Experiment with oak aging: Oak aging can add complexity and depth to the flavor of the wine. Try aging your cherry wine in an oak barrel or adding oak chips to the fermenter drum.
  6. Balance the sweetness: if you find that your cherry wine is too sweet, you can add a small amount of acid blend or tartaric acid to balance the sweetness.
  7. Blend with other fruits: Try blending your cherry wine with other fruits such as raspberries or blackberries to create unique and delicious flavors.
  8. Experiment with different fermentation techniques: Try using different techniques such as carbonic maceration or freezing the fruit before fermentation to get different flavors and aromas.

It's important to keep in mind that wine making is an art, and that it's not a one-size-fits-all process. Experimenting with different ingredients and techniques will help you find the perfect balance of flavors for your cherry wine.

What is the best yeast to use with making cherry wine?


When making cherry wine, it is best to use a wine yeast specifically designed for fruit wines. Here are a few of the best yeast options for making cherry wine:

Lalvin 71B-1122: This is a popular yeast for making fruit wines, including cherry wine. It has a high tolerance for alcohol and is known for producing fruity, floral aromas.

Lalvin EC-1118: This is another popular yeast for fruit wines and it can be used for both sweet and dry cherry wines. It has a high tolerance for alcohol and produces a clean, crisp finish.

Red Star Premier Rouge: This yeast is specially formulated for making red and fruit wines, including cherry wine. It is known for producing a fruity aroma, and it has a high tolerance for alcohol.

Pasteur Red: This yeast is a versatile yeast that is well-suited for making fruit wines, including cherry. It is known for producing a fruity aroma, and it has a high tolerance for alcohol.

Montrachet: This is a classic wine yeast, it is known for producing a well-balanced wine with a fruity aroma and a dry finish.

It's worth noting that the choice of yeast can have a significant impact on the final flavor and aroma of your cherry wine, so it's important to choose a yeast that is well-suited for your desired wine style. Additionally, it's important to follow the manufacturer's instructions for each yeast, for example the recommended fermentation temperature, and to ensure that the yeast is well-suited for the specific gravity of your must.


How much sugar to use per litre of cherry pulp to make wine.



The amount of sugar to use for 5 litres of cherry pulp to make wine will depend on the desired sweetness and alcohol content of the finished wine.

A general guideline for sugar addition is to use around 220-250 grams of sugar per litre of must (juice and pulp) for a dry wine, 350-450 grams per litre for a semi-sweet wine, and up to 600 grams per litre for a sweet wine.

It's important to use a hydrometer to measure the specific gravity of your must before adding sugar, and to aim for a specific gravity of around 1.085 - 1.090. This will result in a wine with an alcohol content of around 12%.

Keep in mind that the sugar content of the cherries can vary depending on the ripeness, variety and location of where they were grown. It's recommended to taste the must and adjust the sugar level accordingly.

It's also worth noting that a higher sugar content will result in a higher alcohol content, but also in a sweeter wine. If you aim for a dry wine, you should aim for a lower sugar content and if you aim for a sweet wine you should aim for a higher sugar content.

What are the pros and cons of making wine with cherries?


Here are some pros and cons of making wine with cherries:

Pros:
  • Unique and delicious flavor: Cherry wine has a unique and delicious flavor that sets it apart from other fruit wines. It is a great option for those who want to try something different.
  • Versatility: Cherries can be used to make a wide range of wine styles, from dry to sweet and from still to sparkling.
  • Nutritional benefits: Cherries are a good source of antioxidants, which can have health benefits when consumed in moderate amounts.
  • Easy to grow: Cherries are relatively easy to grow, and you can use your own fresh cherries to make wine, which can be a fun and rewarding experience.
  • Good for the environment: Cherry trees are relatively easy to grow, and they are a good source of food for wildlife.
Cons:

  • Can be time-consuming: Making wine with cherries can be a time-consuming process, and it requires patience, attention to detail, and a certain level of expertise.
  • Can be expensive: The cost of cherries can be high, especially if you are using high-quality fruit, which can make the wine-making process expensive.
  • Can be challenging: Cherry wine can be challenging to make and requires a lot of attention to detail to ensure that the wine turns out well.
  • High sugar content: Cherry wine is often high in sugar content which can be a concern for some people.
  • Can be harsh: Cherry wine can be harsh if not made properly and can be too tart for some people.

Overall, making wine with cherries can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it does require a certain level of skill and patience. It's important to do research and gather all the necessary information before starting, and to be prepared to experiment with different techniques and ingredients to find the perfect balance of flavors.

What is the best type of cherries to use to make wine?


The best type of cherries to use for making wine are sweet cherries that are high in sugar content and low in acidity. Some of the best types of sweet cherries for wine making include:

  1. Bing cherries: These are one of the most popular cherries for making wine. They have a dark red color, a sweet flavor, and a good balance of sugar and acidity.
  2. Rainier cherries: These are a yellow-fleshed cherry with a sweet taste, a high sugar content and a low acidity.
  3. Lambert cherries: These are also a good choice for wine making, they have a sweet taste and a high sugar content.
  4. Tart cherries: Tart cherries like Montmorency or Morello are also great for wine-making, they have high acidity and a strong, distinctive cherry flavor.
  5. Black cherries: These cherries are also suitable for wine-making, they have a deep color and a full-bodied flavor.

It's worth noting that using a combination of sweet and tart cherries can lead to a more balanced wine.

It's also important to note that when using cherries to make wine, it is wise to use ripe, fresh cherries that are free from mold or rot. Using fresh, high-quality fruit is essential for making a delicious and well-balanced wine.

Other than using cherries, What other fruits are good to make wine?

Many fruits can be used to make wine, here are some popular options:
  • Grapes: Grapes are the most traditional fruit used to make wine, and they come in a wide variety of colors and flavors.
  • Berries: Berries such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries are popular choices for making wine. They are high in natural sugars and acids, which make them ideal for wine making.
  • Apples: Apples are often used to make cider, but they can also be used to make wine. They have a high sugar content and a good balance of acidity, which makes them well-suited for wine making.
  • Peaches: Peaches are a popular fruit for wine making, they have a high sugar content and a good balance of acidity, which makes them well-suited for wine making.
  • Pears: Pears are also a good choice for wine making, they have a high sugar content and a good balance of acidity, which makes them well-suited for wine making.
  • Melons: Melons such as cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon can be used to make wine. They have a high sugar content and a refreshing flavor.
  • Plums: Plums can be used to make wine, they have a high sugar content and a good balance of acidity, which makes them well-suited for wine making.
  • Mangoes: Mangoes can also be used to make wine, they have a high sugar content and a good balance of acidity, which makes them well-suited for wine making.
  • Pineapples: Pineapples can also be used to make wine, they have a high sugar content and a good balance of acidity, which makes them well-suited for wine making.
  • Elderberries: Elderberries are a popular fruit for wine making, they have a high sugar content and a good balance of acidity, which makes them well-suited for wine making.

When should I use Sodium metabisulfite while making cherry wine


Sodium metabisulfite should be used at different stages in the wine-making process when making cherry wine, depending on the desired outcome. Here are some general guidelines for when to use sodium metabisulfite when making cherry wine:

At the start of fermentation: Sodium metabisulfite can be added at the start of fermentation to kill off any wild yeasts or bacteria that may be present in the must. This helps to ensure that the wine ferments properly and that it has a consistent flavor and aroma.

Before bottling: Sodium metabisulfite can be added just before bottling to prevent the wine from being contaminated by wild yeasts or bacteria. This helps to stabilize the wine and protect it from oxidation.

When adding other ingredients: If you're adding other ingredients like oak chips, berries, or spices to your cherry wine, it's a good idea to add a small amount of sodium metabisulfite to prevent contamination.

It's important to follow the manufacturer's instructions for usage and to use the right quantity of sodium metabisulfite, as too much can ruin the taste of your wine. It is also important to store it in a cool, dry place.

It's worth noting that some winemakers prefer to use other methods to prevent contamination by wild yeasts, such as using a commercial yeast, pasteurizing the must, or adding potassium sorbate to prevent any yeast from fermenting further.

When should I use Sodium metabisulfite while making cherry wine?


Sodium metabisulfite should be used at different stages in the wine-making process when making cherry wine, depending on the desired outcome. 

Here are some general guidelines for when to use sodium metabisulfite when making cherry wine:

  • At the start of fermentation: Sodium metabisulfite can be added at the start of fermentation to kill off any wild yeasts or bacteria that may be present in the must. This helps to ensure that the wine ferments properly and that it has a consistent flavor and aroma.
  • Before bottling: Sodium metabisulfite can be added just before bottling to prevent the wine from being contaminated by wild yeasts or bacteria. This helps to stabilize the wine and protect it from oxidation.
  • When adding other ingredients: If you're adding other ingredients like oak chips, berries, or spices to your cherry wine, it's a good idea to add a small amount of sodium metabisulfite to prevent contamination.

What is the shelf life of cherry wine?


The shelf life of cherry wine depends on several factors, including the alcohol content, storage conditions, and the freshness of the ingredients used in making the wine.

Typically, cherry wine has an alcohol content of around 12-14% ABV. If stored properly in cool (45-55°F), dark conditions, away from light and vibration, it can last for several years, potentially up to 5 years or more.

However, the wine's taste and quality will start to deteriorate over time, even if the wine was well made. It's best to consume the wine within the first 2-3 years for optimal taste and freshness.

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