"Your fruit and chocolate wines are favorites of me and my husband. Do you have any more recipes?" Sandy LeBleu, Houma, Louisiana
Strawberries and chocolate go together like a hand and glove. The intense aroma and distinctive flavor of strawberries pairs wonderfully with chocolate. This wine is easy to make and one will want to scale the recipe up to at least 3 gallons or regret it when you taste it.
The strawberries should be ripe and sliced. For this reason, look in the frozen foods for a 32-ounce tub of frozen sliced strawberries (you need two per gallon). These will be processed at the height of ripeness and are perfect for this recipe. Other container shapes and sized can also be used.
If using frozen strawberries, thaw. In a primary, pour into a fine-meshed nylon straining bag and tie closed. Do not mash.
Measure the Dutched cocoa powder (see Dutched Cocoa Powder, my February 5th, 2012 WineBlog entry for background on Dutched cocoa powder) in dry ounces and add to one pint of warm water in a blender, pulsing until thoroughly mixed. Add tannin, acid blend and yeast nutrient and pulse again to ensure all are well mixed and then set aside.
Pour the sugar over the strawberries and pour the boiling water over the sugar. Stir very well to dissolve sugar. Add the thawed grape concentrate and stir again to integrate. Finally, add the cocoa water while stirring and continue stirring for a full minute. Cover the primary and set aside to cool to room temperature.
When cooled, add activated yeast in a starter solution and cover primary. Punch down the bag of strawberries several times a day, checking their condition after several days. When they start looking thoroughly ravaged by the yeast (about 4-5 days), remove the bag and hang to drip (do NOT squeeze) to extract readily available liquid (I hang the bag from a kitchen cabinet door handle with a bowl underneath for about 20-30 minutes). Add dripped liquid back to primary and cover primary. Discard the strawberry pulp.
When the vigorous fermentation slows, transfer to secondary and attach an airlock. Do not top up. Allow fermentation to finish and rack, adding the finely crushed and dissolved Campden tablet and then top up. Set aside in dark place for 60 days and rack again; top up with distilled water (this will not noticeably affect the flavor or alcohol level). Return to darkness another 60 days and rack again, topping up as before. Set aside in darkness 4-6 months to bulk age. Rack if required, bottle and age an additional 6 months before tasting. Yes, it is a protracted process, but well worth it. [Jack Keller's own recipe]
The resulting wine is full-bodied and delicious, the marriage of strawberry and chocolate perfect. To retain color, this wine is best bottled in dark glass and cellared in darkness or very low light. It should be consumed within a year -- two years at most.
My thanks to Sandy LeBleu of Houma, Louisiana for this request.