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Oct 8, 2011

How to Make Herb Wines from Scratch

A Wine-Making Glossary 

Wine Recipes:

Don’t be afraid to vary the quantities of herbs, sugar, raisins, or acids (citrus fruits) according to your taste and the type of wine desired. Use three quarts of water for steeping the herbs and two more quarts to boil up the sugar.
Rose Petal Wine
Rosemary Wine
Lavender Wine
Peppermint Wine
Call me crazy, but I’ve never been a big fan of vinegar in cooking. Herbal vinegars are a staple in many kitchens, but when I’m cooking creatively (and that always includes herbs), I like the flavor that wine provides; I rarely seek the astringency of vinegar outside of the salad bowl. It’s only logical that this culinary quirk would eventually lead me into making herbal wines.
Nearly all the herbal wines I’ve seen in shops have been made by soaking herbs in a commercial grape wine. That’s certainly a quick and simple way to impart an herbal flavor to wine, but it’s completely different from starting from scratch and fermenting herbs into wine. That is what I call herbal wine. I’ve been making wine from wild and orchard fruit for years, and since I started making herbal wines, I’ve become really hooked.
When I first began investigating herbal wines, I found a few published references, some with recipes, on wine made from the flowers of dandelion, elder, and rose. These may be herbs, but they aren’t usually used in cooking, and so I had to call upon my experiences in making herbal jellies and fruit wines, along with a healthy dose of experimentation, to come up with workable recipes for wines made with culinary herbs such as thyme and rosemary. The field is wide open: we herb lovers can go crazy experimenting with our favorite varieties and combinations.
I make at least 100 gallons of wine every year now, 5 gallons at a time. (Federal law allows a two-person household to make up to 200 gallons of wine or beer per year without a permit as long as it’s for personal consumption. Single-person households are limited to 100 gallons per year.) This may seem like a lot of wine, especially to someone who doesn’t drink it, but it allows me to use herbal wine daily in cooking, build a collection of aging bottles, share generously with my friends, and give personalized gifts.
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