"Jack, I read that you won a competition with a 'social wine.' What is that?" Ronny Petridge, Prince George, B.C., CA
A social wine is one you might serve other than with a meal, a religious or a celebratory event. It might be mid-afternoon with sweet biscuits or in the evening between the meal and retirement, but generally it is at a time when lower alcohol wines are more appropriate.
I submit here a 10.75% alcohol (by volume) sweet cranberry-raspberry wine which can be made anytime you find yourself with the appropriate ingredients. I made two gallons of this wine, fermented both to dryness, and stabilized one and sweetened it with U.S. grade Fancy honey to a specific gravity of 1.018. The dry wine, stabilized and sweetened with honey only to 1.000, is very nice alone or with a neutral, salty or slightly sour snack. It also goes well with a crisp green salad or toast and pickled herring, sardine or dried salmon. The sweet is suitable alone, but also with a pastry, biscuit or sweet fruit.
Read the label before selecting the cranberry juice and avoid any containing preservatives other than ascorbic acid. Combine juice, syrup and finely crushed and dissolved Campden tablet in primary and measure specific gravity. You can use more syrup, but reduce the cranberry by that amount and calculate the sugar as required. Use a hydrometer table to calculate the amount of sugar to add to obtain an original specific gravity (usually abbreviated incorrectly as o.g.) of 1.078. The amount of sugar required will depend on the cranberry juice you use, so calculate, measure the sugar, dissolve it thoroughly into a simple syrup (or a sample of the must), add, stir, and measure the s.g. again. Do not exceed 1.078; indeed, if one is to err, do so on the low side (but not below 1.073, or 10% a.b.v.). Stir in acid and nutrient and cover primary. Wait 10-12 hours and add activated yeast in a starter solution. On fifth day transfer to a 4-liter secondary and affix airlock, leaving at least 1 inch of ullage (airspace). Ferment to dryness and rack into a 1-gallon secondary. Top up if required and wait for wine to clear. Wait additional 2 weeks and rack again, adding another finely crushed and dissolved Campden tablet and 1/2 tsp dissolved potassium sorbate. Wait 45 days, rack again, sweeten to taste, and bottle. [Author's own recipe]
My thanks to Ronny Petridge of Prince George, B.C., Canada for more or less requesting this recipe.