British Champagne AKA Rhubarb Wine (1922 recipe)

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mr_wibble

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Based on this post: http://aussiehomebrewer.com/topic/79560-cowslip-wine/#entry1166214

And the recipe from "Old-Time Recipes for Home Made Wines Cordials and Liqueurs" (1922)



To every five pounds of rhubarb, when sliced and bruised, put one gallon of cold spring water. Let it stand three days, stir ring two or three times every day; then press and strain it through a sieve, and to every gallon of liquor, put three and one-half pounds of loaf sugar. Stir it well, and when melted, barrel it. When it has done working, bung it up close, first suspending a muslin bag with isinglass from the bung into the barrel. To eight gallons of liquor, put two ounces of isinglass. In six months bottle it and wire the bottles; let them stand up for the first month, then lay four or five down lengthways for a week, and if none burst, all may be laid down. Should a large quantity be made, it must remain longer in cask. It may be coloured pink by putting in a quart of raspberry juice. It will keep for many years.
So I chopped up 2 supermarket bunches of rhubarb - mine has not grown to size yet.

I put it in with ~ 4 litres of water, and I brought the temperature up to around 70°C (this is roughly where you can dip your finger into the water OK, but hot hold it there, the same for plucking chickens).

I figured to pasteurise it a bit, but also help the inherent rhubarbness dissolve into the water. I left it on the stove to cool...

And nothing happened.

After a day the water has a light pink tinge, very little flavour. So I waited for 3 days, stirring occasionally, maybe once a day.

Every day the rhubarb became more pale, and the (now) liquor more pink.

After 3 days - the liquor is a brilliant pinky-red, the rhubarb spent and grey.
rhubarb_wine_smaller.jpg

I strained out the rhubarb, heated the liquor, added yeast nutrient and roughly 0.5 kg of white sugar. This brought the OG up to around 1.057.

I decanted it into a flask (my demijohns are full of mead), I got about 3.5 litres, so I topped this up to 4 litres. I expect this reduced the gravity to somewhere around 1.050 which is what I wanted. Gave it a blast of O2 and 1/2 a pack of champagne yeast.

I'm aiming for something approximating an alco-pop, still a little bit sweet.
 

pajs

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Rhubarb is interesting to work with. You might find freezing it (chopped), then thawing it, works better for colour extraction & getting flavour out.
 

mr_wibble

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So two weeks later I just bottled it.

The F.G. on my hydrometer is -0.006 That's crashing my AbV calculator, but it's at least 6.5%

During fermentation the in-suspension yeast made it go light pink, but as it settled it returned to a nice pink.

It tastes ... winey. SWMBO said it tastes like a white wine, but without any woody notes.
I must admit to being a little disappointed, I wanted a bolder rhubarb flavour, but I'll reserve final judgement for when it's carbonated (2x carb drops / 750ml).
 

Yob

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My old man used to make rhubarb 'cordial' and we used to love it, had to open it over the sink though, gushes were common
 

mr_wibble

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Tried this tonight, it's fairly OK.

First: It is truly beautiful - pink, and clear and bubbly.

rhubarb_wine.jpg

Now, white wine is not my thing, I don’t drink much wine, and when I do, I prefer dark-red tannin-ey reds with so much wood, you could carve them.

So, to *my* humble wine palette this pretty-in-pink wine tastes like a simple white wine.

It's not very sour at all, definitely not sweet, but also not very rhubarby either.
Maybe I needed more rhubarb? Maybe the champagne yeast scrubbed that all away.

It is reasonably drinkable, and I would brew it again.
I think, next time with +30% more rhubarb... or not.

I'm 2/3 the way through the glass, and in that sip I just got creamy vanilla notes and I can't type, so probably I'm talking crap.
 

mr_wibble

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That thumb-print oil-slick on the glass in the photo is from where we were fixing the tractor, and is not indicative of my usual glassware cleanliness.
 

TimT

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Was going to start mine today but somehow forgot. Oh well.

Anyway, as I was going through the recipes I noticed in one of my modern books the guy commenting how apparently spring rhubarb is better than autumn rhubarb because the autumn rhubarb will tend to taste more woody.

Which effect - woodiness - might kinda sorta be something I'd be *very* interested in going for. So good thing I'll be using autumn/winter rhubarb then!

By the by, he also suggests making the recipe with 'two cups of tea - one for yourself and one for the brew'. For tannins, natch.

I think I'll work a variation on that and make some strong chai tea to add to the fermenter, get a bit more wintery-spiciness in there.
 

mr_wibble

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That's interesting ... my taste guinea-pig (mum) said she did taste it a bit woody.
(and she doesn't like this taste much at all, wont drink red wine because of it).
 

TimT

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That woodiness might be the creamy-vanilla you were tasting?

The country wine base - cane sugar mixed with water - does tend to come out with white wine flavours rather than red wine flavours, but it's surprising what an addition of a plant will do to it. Our elderflower wine (after an undrinkable first few months) has matured beautifully into a desserty kind of cordial wine - you can definitely detect the elderflower in it, and I didn't even add that much elderflower in the end (got sick of stripping the flowers from the stems). Maybe the rhubarb brings not only colour and fermentable sugars and a bit of acidity but some tannins (the 'woodiness'?)
 

wide eyed and legless

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TimT

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Wide Eyed - I haven't but this here book -

Old-Time Recipes for Home Made Wines Cordials and Liqueurs
- has a few, about four. The last is for 'White Gooseberry or Champagne Wine'.


WHITE GOOSEBERRY OR CHAMPAGNE WINE
Take four and one-half gallons cold soft water and fifteen quarts of white gooseberries. Ferment. Now mix six pounds refined sugar, four pounds honey, one ounce white tartar in fine powder. Put in one ounce dry orange and lemon peel, or two ounces fresh, and add one-half gallon white brandy. This will make nine gallons.

Anyway, check out the link, do a word search for 'gooseberry' to see the other recipes. Not all of them mention yeast, I think a lot of the time the wild yeast on the gooseberries was used to start fermentation.
 

mr_wibble

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and add one-half gallon white brandy

Uh… I guess that would be the liqueur part. Seems you're flavouring brandy with fruit & honey.

What does the cream of tartar bring ... acidity?
 

TimT

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Yes.... I think so. Acidity.

To tell the truth I just relied on 'cut and paste' and didn't read the details.
 

mr_wibble

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wide eyed and legless said:
Have you ever tried making a champagne from gooseberries I seem to remember reading of a champagne made with gooseberries, couldn't find a recipe but found these. I have got josta berries in my back yard any suggestions for them.
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/features/tangy-treats-gooseberries-add-zest-to-sweet-and-savoury-dishes-7939612.html
A bunch of recipes are just: gooseberries, sugar, pectolase (or not), yeast nutrient, champagne yeast.

e.g.: and http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/allotment/2011/jun/09/allotments-gardens

EDIT: This thing nuked one of my links, and it was the best one.

-> http://www.diy-plonk.com/gooseberry-wine.html
 

TimT

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Or check out this recipe which makes it look simplicity itself, possibly because the person the recipe came from is Sandor Katz, who has a loveable combination of enthusiasm about fermentation and couldn't-be-arsedness about the details. Not specifically a gooseberry or jostaberry recipe - it's just for any old fruit you have lying around.
 

TimT

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I chopped up some rhubarb late last week and immersed in some water (which I'd previously boiled). Was planning on adding sugar and pitching yeast yesterday/today but I found a kind of whitish growth on the surface of the water - probably a surface mould - and, furthermore, the water was not pink enough and the rhubarb stalks not grey enough.

So I've just plonked the lot on the stove and raised it to boiling temp to kill off the mould and soften up the rhubarb. I'll give it another day or so.
 

mr_wibble

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It'll be interesting to see how much flavour you get out with the boiling.

I never boiled, in case it broke down some of the flavours. But maybe it might help extract them.
 

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