"For some time now I've been wanting to make a light bodied / dry wine
from Wild-Maine (low bush) Blueberries. Do you have a recipe that I could use?"
Brian Carnwath, Williamson, New York
Blueberries, like cranberries, bilberries, whortleberries, farkleberries, grouseberries, deerberries, mayberries, cowberries, and huckleberries, belong to the genus Vaccinium (although most botanists break huckleberries out into a seperate subgenus--Gaylussacia). There are dozens of species and varieties of blueberries in the United States and Canada ranging from the Atlantic to the Pacific and the Gulf Coast to the Hudson Bay, but basically there are four groupings of wild blueberries--the dwarf, low (lowbush), high (highbush) and bog (or swamp) blueberry. Their plants can vary from a sprawling groundcover a few inches (dwarf) to three feet in height (lowbush) to large bushes 12 feet high (highbush) or to near-trees as large as 15 feet tall (bog).
The fruit of the lowbush blueberry varies in color among species from blue to purple to black. The most common and important of the lowbush is the blue Vaccinium angustifolium, the species from which most commercial varieties were derived. Less common generally but inhabitants of the northeast are the black Vaccinium brittonii and the blue Vaccinium vacillans. Still, it is the Vaccinium angustifolium that is most common in the wilds of Maine to Wisconsin.
Ripe blueberries can be crushed fresh for fermentation or dried for later chopping or mincing before being added to a must. They are usually sweet and aromatic but may retain some astringency until they have weathered a frost. They are rich in vitamins A, C and rutin, rich in iron and moderately rich in several other minerals, contain a fair amount of tannin and pectin, and contain malic, citric, tartaric, and benzoic acids. Their sugar content is moderate and they contain several glucosides. The oft-cited caution that they contain sorbic acid and will not ferment is completely untrue. It is their richness in chemistry that sometimes makes them difficult to actively inoculate with yeast, but this same richness makes for complex and varied wines once fermentation has run its course. Indeed, in a recent survey of favorite non-grape wines, blueberry was second only to blackberry in popularity.
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Bring water to boil, then set aside. Wash and crush blueberries and put in primary fermentation vessel with all ingredients except yeast. Add hot water and stir to dissolve sugar. Cover well and allow to cool to 70-75 degrees F., then add yeast. Stir daily for 5-6 days or until specific gravity is 1.040. Strain out fruit pulp and press. Siphon into secondary fermentation vessel and fit fermentation trap. Rack in three weeks and again in three months. When wine is clear and stable, rack again and bottle. Allow a year to mature. Improves with age. [Adapted from Stanley F. Anderson and Raymond Hull's The Art of Making Wine]
Wash and crush blueberries in nylon straining bag and strain juice into primary fermentation vessel. Tie top of nylon bag and place in primary fermentation vessel. Stir in all other ingredients except yeast, stabilizer and red grape concentrate. Stir well to dissolve sugar, cover well, and set aside for 24 hours. Add yeast, cover, and daily stir ingredients and press pulp in nylon bag to extract flavor. When specific gravity is 1.030 (about 5 days), strain juice from bag and siphon liquor off sediments into glass secondary fermentation vessel. Fit fermentation trap. Rack in three weeks and again in two months. When wine is clear and stable, rack again, add stabilizer and red grape concentrate, and bottle. Allow a year to mature. [Adapted from Raymond Massaccesi's Winemaker's Recipe Handbook]
Put water on to boil and stir in sugar until dissolved. Meanshile, wash blueberries, put in nylon straining bag and tie bag closed. In primary fermentation vessel, crush blueberries. Pour boiling water into primary and stir well, cover, and set aside to cool. Stir in yeast nutrient and pectic enzyme, recover primary and set aside for 12 hours. Add activated yeast and recover. Stir daily and press pulp in nylon bag to extract flavor. Ferment 10 days, strain juice from bag and allow to settle overnight. Siphon liquor off sediments into glass secondary and fit airlock. Rack, top up and refit airlock every 60 days until wine is clear and all signs of fermentation are at least 30 days past (6-7 months). Stabilize, wait two weeks and rack into bottles. Allow 6-12 to mature. [Adapted from Steven A. Krause's Wines from the Wilds]
Put water on to boil and stir in sugar until dissolved. Meanshile, wash blueberries, put in nylon straining bag and tie bag closed. In primary fermentation vessel, crush blueberries. Pour boiling water into primary and stir well, cover, and set aside to cool. When room temperature, stir in crushed Campden tablet, acid blend, yeast energizer, and yeast nutrient. Cover and set aside 12 hours. Stir in pectic enzyme and set aside another 12 hours, covered. Add activated yeast and cover. Stir daily and press pulp in nylon bag to extract flavor. When specific gravity is 1.020 (about 7 days), strain juice from bag and allow to settle overnight. Siphon liquor off sediments into glass secondary and fit airlock. Rack, top up and refit airlock after 30 days and again every 60 days until wine is clear and all signs of fermentation are at least 30 days past. Stabilize, wait two weeks and rack into bottles. Allow a year to mature. [Author's own recipe]
My thanks to Brian Carnwath of Williamson, New York for requesting this recipe.