If you haven’t already tried making them, herb wines are fabulous. They’re easy to make and delightful to drink. Mint is one of my favorites and it’s a good way to use up an excess of that prolific plant. I happened to have some Thai basil that was fast approaching becoming past its prime, so I figured why not try a basil wine?
Thai basil is different from Italian sweet Basil (the variety typically used in making pesto). As is described in this article, Thai basil leans, flavor-wise, toward anise. If you’re a black licorice fan, like I am, you’ll probably enjoy this flavor. I buy it at a local Asian grocery store and use it as a garnish for Southeast Asian-inspired dishes – phở and bún just wouldn’t be the same without it!
As with other herb wines, it started by making a “tea” by infusing leaves in hot water. I let about a quart of leaves infuse overnight, then I strained the leaves out. The resulting tea was fragrant in a distinctively basil way…quite lovely. I added 4 cups of sugar to the tea in a fermenting bucket.
I then boiled about a quart of dechlorinated water and added sliced ginger, which steeped for about 10 minutes. The strained water was added to the primary fermenter, along with the chopped orange, lemon, and raisins. The mixture was stirred well to dissolve the sugar.
Once the liquid was at about room temperature, I pitched the yeast (which had been proofing in a cup of apple juice).
The next day, the must was happily fizzy, a sign that the yeast is active and working its magic. I’ll keep an eye on it and rack again in a few weeks, if needed (i.e., if there’s a lot of yeast sediment).
Wondering what it will taste like when finished? Jack Keller says basil wine “…can have a rich and spicy, mildly peppery flavor with a trace of mint and clove.” Scurry64, at Wine Making Talk, says “it’s a sweet, herbaceous wine with a strong basil flavor and aroma and sometimes light mint undertones. It’s delicious.” Sounds good, right?
Interested in trying your hand at making Herb Wine? I used this All-Around Herb Wine Recipe from Mother Earth News as the guide for this batch. With fresh herbs like basil and mint in season right now, there are tasty wines to be made!