For my first winemaking effort since moving to the Oregon coast, I decided to make an apple wine. Actually, I had planned to make apple hard cider after being inspired by the wonderful things our local cider house, Reveille Ciderworks, is doing. But, in a happy accident, I miscalculated the sugar and ended up making a sweet and very high-alcohol apple wine.
I started with 6 gallons of organic apple juice, to which I added 10 pounds of organic cane sugar. Whoops! To make hard cider, I should have left that sugar out or added about 10% as much.
The acidity turned out to be almost exactly where I wanted it, so I didn’t mess with that. I used an English ale yeast and the fermentation took off within 24 hours.
Fermentation lasted about a month, which is awesome. It would have taken around 7 days if I had tried this in Sacramento in July. When the alcohol content of the wine had exceeded the tolerance of the yeast I was left with somewhere around 15% alcohol (but maybe more…I’m still saving up for a proper lab).
I aged the wine for a month with French oak and fortified it a bit with gin. Today was a warm day in Astoria, so I tasted it and made the decision to bottle. I prefer to bottle when it’s warm, so that the wine shrinks in the bottle rather than expanding. I don’t know whether this makes much of a difference, but it’s one of the things I think about.
I’m really happy with this wine. It has good acidity (less than green apple, more than a red apple) and the high sugar balances the high alcohol. The oak and gin flavors and aroma are noticeable, but not overpowering. It pairs extremely well with cheese.