Craft Country Wine: Apple-Fruit Cocktail v2.0

Cloudy now, but it will clear with time

Having previously posted on my first attempt at making Apple-Fruit Cocktail wine, I thought it was time for another batch. V1.0 was surprisingly good – I was prepared for something along the lines of a cloyingly-sweet “Pruno”-type beverage, but it was actually a respectable wine. With some leftover apple juice and a couple of cans of tropical fruit cocktail sitting in the pantry, it was time to make the next version!

This is a really easy wine to make. I just puréed the can of tropical fruit cocktail in juice (I chose this specific mix because it doesn’t contain artificial colors – no unholy red cherries) and added it to the apple juice base. Then, I added the rest of the ingredients, with the exception of the yeast, to the primary fermenter. After stirring to dissolve the sugar, I pitched the yeast.

A note about yeast: wine yeast typically comes in a 5 gram packet intended to make 5 gallons. While only 1 gram would be needed to ferment a 1 gallon batch of wine, I tend to use about 1/3 of a packet per batch to ensure that fermentation is active. I seal the remainder tightly and place in a sealed baggie in the fridge until I need more yeast. I also sometimes use the yeast slurry left after the racking from the primary to the secondary fermenter: the yeast is still very active and also brings a bit of the wine’s flavor with it to the new batch. I reuse yeast like this only once, and some winemakers advise against reusing yeast like this based on the risk of introducing “off” flavors or undesirable microbes; my wines made reusing yeast have turned out at least as good as those made with new yeast – and the additional flavor and strong activity reused yeast brings can be a desirable attributes in wines like Skeeter Pee.

The Apple-Fruit Cocktail wine ferments in the primary for about 5 days, being stirred daily. After that, it’s moved to the secondary with airlock and will continue to ferment for at least a month. Based on the previous batch, this wine will clear reasonably well with time (the fruit cocktail causes extra cloudiness due to the pectin) and still retain some residual sweetness. Backsweetening will bring more fruit forward.

And the flavor? It’s a crisp apple wine with added complexity from the guava, passionfruit, and pineapple. This is a fun wine, best served chilled, and perfect for sharing with good company.

Don’t fear the fruit cocktail – it adds a new dimension to apple wine. Cheers!

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