How to Make Plum Wine

by Robert French | Last Updated: March 17, 2015
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Are you looking to try your hand at an alternative fermentation? How about a fruit wine…and I’m not talking grapes.

I’m going to show you how to make plum wine.

Yes, I know it’s a little early in the season to be picking plums, but it’s a great time to start planning your future “brews”.  Plums start to hit the stores in May, so you have a little time to start your planning and researching.

Last August I did my first plum wine and I wish it did it a little earlier in the season as the plums in my area were not as flavorful that late in the season and the choices in varieties were a lot less.

Do a little research on all the steps to create your own fruit wine – there are tons of resources on line. They are all very similar, but have their own twists on techniques.

My Plum Wine Recipe

I based my recipe on one I found in a very cool book, by Emma Christensen called True Brews.

This book has got all kinds of great ideas and recipes for a multitude of beverages including soda, kombucha, kefir, hard cider, beer, mead and wine.

Emma can be found @ChristensenEmma on Twitter.

The plan was to make a one gallon batch and the following ingredients were needed:

  • 12 cups water (carbon filtered)
  • 2 lbs granulated sugar
  • 5 lbs of mixed plums
  • 2 Campden tablets
  • 1 packet dry yeast Red Star Cote des Blancs 5g
  • 2 teaspoons acid blend
  • 1 teaspoon yeast nutrient
  • 1/2 teaspoon pectic enzyme (this will help to breakdown the fruit)
  • 1/8 teaspoon tannin
  • 2 gallon wide mouth fermenter
  • 1 gallon (I prefer glass) fermenter
  • 1 large mash bag
  • 1 large spoon
  • 1 airlock
cutplums

Day one

You’ll want to follow the normal cleaning and sanitizing procedures that you would with your homebrew. In addition you will need most of the same items you would use if are homebrewing, post boil.

This includes a fermenter(s), air lock, mesh bag and a spoon.

  • 5 lbs of plums (I used a mix of a few varieties)
  • 2 lbs of sugar
  • 12 cups of water (through a carbon filter)
  • 1 crushed Campden tablet

Start by bringing the water to a simmer, add sugar and stir to dissolve. Cut the heat and let cool to room temperature. Pour sugar water mixture into a 2 gallon (or close to) fermenter.

Make sure you use a bucket or something with a wide enough opening to add the plums.  Rough cut the plums, discarding the pits. Place all the cut plums in a mesh bag and tie off.  Leave enough room in the bag to allow the plums to move around a bit.

Submerge the plums in the sugar water and using a potato masher, mash the fruit into a fine pulp. Stir the mixture with the spoon combining the juice, sugar and water just enough to be able to take your first gravity reading. Once your good, crush 1 Campden tablet and stir in.

Close the fermenter, install the airlock and wait 24-hours.

Just a note regarding cleaning the plums; I washed each of the plums in the sink and then I made a solution of Star San. I dipped each plum in the solution as well as the knife prior to cutting. The bowl I used was also sanitized with Star San.

otheringrd
yeast

Day two

  • 1 packet of dry yeast
  • Tannin
  • Acid
  • Yeast nutrient
jug

After 24-hours the Campden tablet will have sterilized the must, and it’s time for the yeast. I chose the Red Star Cote des Blanc yeast for the fermentation temperature range of 50 to 80 degrees and it tends to leave a little more residual sugar than other wine yeasts.  

Since I didn’t want back sweeten the wine, having a slighter sweeter wine sounded like a good idea.

When pitching the yeast, Emma recommends making a starter using 1 cup of the fruit liquid and mixing the dry yeast. After a couple of hours the yeast should be going and be ready to pitch.  

At the same time you pitch the yeast, you will also add the acid blend, yeast nutrient, pectic enzyme and tannin. The Cote des Blanc is a slow moving yeast and I saw very little activity in the airlock.

The fermenting plums need to sit about a week, but you will want to stir daily with a sanitized spoon. After about a week it’s time to strain the liquid from the pulp, getting as much of liquid as possible.

The wine needs to sit with an airlock in a dark area undisturbed for about 4 more weeks.

When you go to bottle your wine you will need that second crushed Campden tablet. This will stop any additional fermentation and make it safe to bottle.

My wine went from an original gravity of 1.100 and finished at .990 final gravity. That’s 14.4 abv% with no back sweetening.

finalgrav

At two months I bottled 8-375ml wine bottles, corked and let sit upright for a week to allow the corks to set and then laid on side for aging.

I highly recomend that you pick up yourself a copy of this comprehensive book.

Native to Southern California, Robert brewed his first homebrew with a good friend back in 1995 and has been brewing ever since. One of the driving forces that keeps him homebrewing is the sharing of beers. He gets far more enjoyment from sharing one of his brews than from just having a pint at home.