Thanks to the high content of malic acid in the stalks of this plant (its edible part), homemade rhubarb wine tastes just like apple wine but has a reddish shade. Many winemakers who try to make this drink complain that it has a grassy flavor. Let’s go over the recipe which eliminates this flaw thanks to heat treatment.
Any cultivar of rhubarb can be used—just make sure that its stalks are ripe and juicy. Leaves and other parts of this plant are not suited for winemaking as they spoil wine’s taste.
- Rhubarb stalks – 3 kilos
- Water – 1 liter per 1 liter of juice
- Sugar – 0.5 kilos 1 liter of juice
- Unwashed raisins (fresh) – 30-50 grams (for the fermentation starter)
The water/sugar ratio is related to the volume of rhubarb juice, which is obtained in the second stage. Wild yeast live on the surface of raisins or berries, which will activate the fermentation. Due to the poor quality of store-bought raisins, you’re better off using berries (raspberries, strawberries, cherries). If you’ll add common yeast, you’ll get a home brew instead of wine.
Rhubarb Wine Recipe
3-5 days prior to working with rhubarb prepare the wine fermentation starter. To do this put the unwashed raisins and berries containing wild yeast in a jar, add 25 grams of sugar and top them off with 100-150 ml of room temperature water. Cover the jar with cheesecloth and set it in a warm place. Once you notice foam, sour smell, and hissing, this means that your fermentation starter is ready, and you can proceed to the next stage.
If you don’t see any fermentation signs in 3-4 days (this might happen if your raisins or berries were chemically treated), you’ll have to make another fermentation starter using other raw materials.
Peel the rhubarb stalks to remove the white part, cut them into small pieces (as small as possible). Now put them in a stock pot, top them off with water (the water should cover the rhubarbs by at least 2-3 cm; this depends on the stock pot used). Memorize the amount of added water to calculate the ratios later on.
Bring to a boil and simmer until the rhubarb stalks become soft. Take the pot off the stove, cover it, and cool to room temperature.
Thanks to the heat treatment the rhubarb stalks will not give out the off-putting grassy taste. This will also provide a pleasant apple flavor.
Decant the decoction into a separate container. Blend the stalks in a blender or use a sieve or grater. Mix the ground rhubarb, decoction, water (excluding the water used during boiling), 200 grams of sugar per 1 liter of the decoction, and fermentation starter (pour it along with raisins or berries). Cover the neck of the container with a piece of cheesecloth of fabric to protect it from insects.
Move the must to a dark place with room temperature. Leave it for 3-4 days. Stir the must once a day. Strain the must through a few layers of cheesecloth. Squeeze the pulp and throw it out. Add 100 grams of sugar per 1 liter of the juice obtained after the boiling to the liquid part and stir.
Decant the must into a fermentation vessel, filling it up to 75% to leave enough space for carbon dioxide and foam. Attach an airlock to the neck of the fermentation vessel (you can use a medical glove with a pierced finger instead). Leave the vessel in a dark place at 18-27°C.
Homemade fermentation airlocks
Medical gloves used as fermentation airlocks
After 5 days, add another sugar batch (100 grams per liter of the juice left after the boiling). Do this by removing the airlock or glove, decanting about 0.5 liters of the must, dissolving sugar in it, and then pouring the obtained syrup back into the must and sealing it with the airlock. After another 5 days repeat this procedure, adding the remaining sugar batch in the same fashion.
Depending on the temperature and yeast activity the rhubarb wine will be fermenting for 25-60 days. After that, the airlock will stop bubbling (the glove will deflate), there will be a layer of sediment at the bottom, and the drink itself will become lighter.
Warning! If the fermentation lasts for more than 50 days after installation of the airlock, you should decant the drink, attach the airlock once again, and let it ferment at the same temperature to prevent the drink from going bitter.
Decant the fermented must through a tube into another container and try it. You can sweeten it with sugar or fortify with vodka or ethanol in the amount of 2-15% of the volume of the drink. Fortified wine is harsher and less fragrant but can be kept for a longer time.
Fill the storing vessels with the wine to the brim. If you added sugar at the previous stage, you should keep them under airlocks for the first 7-10 days in case of refermentation.
Move the wine to a dark place with a temperature of 5-16°C and leave it for 3-6 months of maturation. Once every 10-30 days decant the wine through a tube in process of sediment emergence. When there is no noticeable sedimentation the wine is ready. Bottle it and cork the bottles.
Homemade rhubarb wine can be stored up to 5 years in a fridge or cellar. It has 11-12% ABV. Using the ratios described in the recipe will let you make 2.5 liters of rhubarb wine.