"I have buckets of pears, very ripe. Can you help? Cecil Travis, Springfield, Missouri
Pears make a wonderful wine, although some people just don't care for it. I suspect they haven't tasted a really good one, but I could be wrong. Pears also make a great mead (a Melomel, actually) called Perry. The problem with pear wine (or perry) recipes is that different pear varieties vary a great deal. Generally, however, there are cooking, canning and eating pears. If you know what your particular pear is most often used for, you will be ahead of the game. But to be perfectly honest, each variety requires its own recipe due to inherent variations in hardness, texture, sweetness, acidity, tannin, and susceptibility to browning. Nonetheless, I will stick my neck out and offer a generic recipe. The instructions are a bit long only because I am trying to instruct you how to tweak the recipe to suit your own fruit. If you search this site for "pear" (go to http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/search.html) -- not "pear wine" -- you will find a number of recipes already posted for specific pear varieties.
Cut a pear in half and set it so both cut faces are facing upright. Set a timer for 15 minutes and go do something else. When timer goes off, come back and look at the pear halves. If they have turned slightly brown, add 1/16 teaspoon powdered ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to the ingredients. If you think they have turned really brown, add 1/8 teaspoon ascorbic acid to ingredients. Don't overdo it! If you cannot measure or estimate 1/16th of a teaspoon, use a thin pinch. Boil the water and dissolve the sugar into it thoroughly. Wash, destem and core the pears, being sure to remove all seeds. Chop roughly and put in nylon straining bag with the chopped raisins. Tie bag and put in primary. Mash pears using a potato masher, bottom of a wine bottle, or a 4X4 piece of wood (be sure to sanitize whatever is used to mash pears). Pour boiling water over crushed pears. Cover with a piece of sanitized muslin held in place with an elastic band Wait one hour for must to cool a bit and add crushed ascorbic acid (if used), Campden tablet, acid blend, tannin and yeast nutrient. Cover with muslin, wait 12 hours and add pectic enzyme. Again cover with muslin, wait another 12 hours and strain out enough juice to float a hydrometer. Measure specific gravity and add sugar sufficient to achieve starting gravity of 1.080 to 1.085. Pear wine is best under 12% alcohol. Return juice in hydrometer jar to primary and add activated yeast (that means make a yeast starter at least two hours -- six or eight is better -- before you get to this point). Cover with muslin once again. Stir daily, squeezing bag gently to extract flavor. When vigorous fermentation subsides (about 7 days), remove bag and let drip drain one hour. Do not squeeze or wine will be very difficult to clear. Taste the drained juice. You should taste both acid and tannin. If either appears weak, add a little more (1/2 teaspoon acid blend, 1/8 teaspoon tannin) and stir very well. Return drained juice to primary and allow to settle 24 hours. Siphon into glass secondary, top up to within one inch of the bottom of the bung, attach an airlock, and set aside. Rack after two-three weeks, top up, and refit airlock. Rack again every two months (but at least twice) until wine clears. Wait another 30 days and very carefully examine the bottom of the secondary. If you see even a very fine dusting of sediment, wait another 30 days and rack again. Repeat looking for sediment in another 30 days. The wine must go 30 days without dropping even a few dead yeast cells. When wine pasts the test for no sediment, stabilize it with 1/2 teaspoon potassium sorbate and one finely crushed and dissolved Campden tablet. Remove one cup of the wine and dissolve into it 1/4 pound (1/2 cup) of finely granulated sugar. Stir this into the wine, reattach the airlock, and set aside 20-30 days. If there are no signs of continued fermentation, rack into bottles and age 6-12 months. [Author's own recipe]
My sincerest thanks to Cecil Travis of Springfield, Missouri for requesting this recipe.