The following is a report of a presentation on wine-making given at a meeting of the Rare Fruit Council International in Miami.

Charles Vanderpool, Programme Chairman, introduced tonight's speakers from Wine and Brew By You, namely Craig McTyre and Jane Kinney. Sandy Morgan, who was to have given the programme is assisting with plans for an Oktoberfest to be held this coming Sunday so was unable to join us. Home made brew will be featured on that occasion.

Sandy has won more blue ribbons than anyone in the United States at the International Amateur Wine Competitions. She attributes some of her success to the incredible varieties of fruits found here in South Florida. She has won awards for her mango wine as well as for Lychee and Antidesma wines. Any fruit that tastes good makes good wine. One of her more recent accomplishments was garlic wine. And only today, she found a recipe for avocado wine.

Mr McTyre and Jane Kinney demonstrated wine-making right before the eyes of the audience. They displayed first a five-gallon bottle of red macadamia wine that was in the process of fermentation.

The beginning winemaker will need an all purpose fermenter that has been cleaned and sterilized. (Do not use a coloured plastic garbage bin because of lead pigment in the plastic.) Also an airlock, a nylon filter bag, nylon netting, a 5-gallon glass carboy, and a stirring paddle.

The demonstration given was of carambola wine. Mr McTyre placed a five-gallon plastic bucket of water on the table and to this Jane Kinney added carambola fruits that had been cut up in chunks. The green edges were removed from the carambola fruits (where the oxalic acid is said to be stored) because oxalic acid inhibits the yeast from growing and creating alcohol. There is no need to remove the small seeds as they will be strained out later. Any fruits used in wine making should be as ripe as possible. Three to five pounds of fruit are needed for each gallon of wine to be made, and 12 to 15 pounds of fruit will make about 25 bottles of wine (fifths).

There are a number of other ingredients in wine-making besides water and fruit. The fruit has natural sugar but other sugar is added in order to raise the alcoholic content of the wine. In this instance Mr McTyre added corn sugar (dextrose) but one may use regular granulated sugar from the supermarket, or honey. Both the sugar and the honey should be dissolved in hot water before adding to the mixture. If using honey, he recommended using the lightest honey available so that it will not overpower the fruit flavour.

Different fruits require different amounts of sugar so in order to determine the quantity of sugar, the fruit should first be tested for acidity. The acid testing strip is applied to one of the fruits and then one compares the colour change of the strip to the colour chart on the side of the bottle that contains the strips. The carambola has a lot of extra acid (1.2), so the acid blend is not used when making this particular wine. Instead, the 'must' will be diluted with water to cut down on the acid. If wine does not have enough acid it tastes 'blah', and if too much acid, it tastes bitter or acidic.

Next is added a pectic enzyme which is a natural enzyme that breaks down the cell structure of the fruit and gives more juice. In one day it does all the hard work and the fruit turns to mush.

The next item to add is sterilizer (sodium meta-bisulfite) which is stirred into the mix and left there for a full day, after which it dissipates into the air. Basically it is put in with the fruit to kill any possible bacteria, bad yeast or anything else that might harm the fermentation.

A very small amount of tannin is then added to give a little astringency to the wine.

At this time the 5-gallon container is covered with a nylon cloth or cheesecloth and allowed to sit for 24 hours. It should be stirred 4 or 5 times with a long-handled spoon or paddle. After the 24 hours the sterilizer that had been added will have disappeared and the germs killed. Then the yeast can be added.

For white wines and fruit wines one usually uses 'Champagne' yeast, and an all-purpose yeast for red wines. This mixture will be left for 4 more days in the bucket, stirring occasionally. Then the fruit pulp is strained through a nylon bag and the pulp thrown away. The resulting liquid is placed in a 5-gallon water bottle, the airlock is placed on the bottle, and then left to ferment for about 3 weeks.

The air lock permits the gas to bubble up through the water that is in the bottom of it and escape into the air. The water trap prevents insects and germs from getting into the wine.

A hydrometer reading should be taken, and if it reads 1.000 specific gravity (S.G.), the wine is finished. If the S.G. is higher, 1.001, 1.002, 1.003, etc. let it ferment for another few days until you get a reading of 1.000.

Next, add potassium sorbate to stop the fermentation.

The wine is then ready to be clarified, which may be done either by letting it just sit for 6 months and clarify by itself or by adding the bentonite which settles the wine in about one week. Then add a very small amount of ascorbic acid which prevents oxidation.

The wine can then be syphoned into another container and the layer of yeast that is left can be discarded. If you prefer to have a sweeter wine, this is the time to add some dissolved sugar. Lastly, syphon the wine into smaller bottles and it is ready to drink.

When bottling your wine you can use fifths, quarts, half-gallons, or gallons. You can use champagne or even beer bottles, but fifths are best. You can cork your wine, use screw tops, or even cap the bottles. If bottles are corked, then placed on their sides, a very slow oxidation will take place which is part of the aging process that helps to improve the flavour of the wine. This doesn't happen if screw tops are used - the wine is as good as it is ever going to be.

Questions that were asked at the conclusion of the programme included some concerning state and federal permits. Check for current regulations that apply to your locality.

Wine can be made of many things, including rose petals, mint leaves, spices; the important thing is that you like the flavour of the leaves or whatever, and that they are not dangerous or contain toxic oils.

In order to fortify wines, the water can be distilled out, which makes the wine more concentrated, or one can add pure alcohol to the wine. This is a quick way to make brandy. Mr McTyre said not to go through the illegal step of making a still by boiling your wine on your stove but rather put the wine in a plastic jug, then place it in your freezer. The water will freeze but the wine will not. Poke a hole in the bottom of the jug after the water has frozen and remove the liquid.

If your wine has a disagreeable, musty taste, it might be because you have left the yeast in the bottom of the fermenter too long and the yeast began to decay.

Happy Wine Making!
p.s. Check out the full instructions for making Sandy "Miami Mango" Wine in the Recipe collection.

DATE: November 1983

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