Coffee wine recipe

Few wines are more difficult to get right. Coffee wine often tastes utterly horrible. Some of the worst homebrew wine I've ever tasted is coffee wine. The stuff can so easily be completely undrinkable and unusable that I rarely bother making it. However, got right, it is quite interesting, so here we go!

There are two schools of thought about coffee wine. Some winemakers will make a lightly flavoured dry coffee wine, whilst others prefer a strongly flavoured sweet wine that is almost a coffee liqueur. Both a difficult to get right.

A lot of books tell you to use instant coffee. Forget this. Instant coffee makes a dreadful wine. Buy some decent ground coffee and make up a gallon of coffee using fairly strong coffee. A nice full roast is far more interesting than the lighter coffees. Use about twice the coffee you'd use for a cup of drinking coffee. Do not stew the coffee for long.

If you insist on trying this, put the coffee ground in a bucket and pour on off-the-boil water. Leave it for about a minute and then strain. Add in a couple of teaspoons of mixed acid (coffee of course contains no real acid of note) and go heavy on the yeast nutrient. I'd suggest a sort of sherry yeast, unless you are making this in the wintertime, in which case use a yeast better suited to the cold.

The trick is very short contact time between the coffee grounds and the water. Use a lot of coffee grounds, but only let them steep for a minute or two. Otherwise you start getting some nasty stuff come out in the flavour.

All the remains is to keep feeding the wine sugar. You can go in a couple of different directions here. If you've made medium strength coffee, then round the wine out at about 1015 gravity, however, a really robust brew will take sugar all the way up to about 1030. Do not forget that a good bottle of sauternes can easily be 1030-1040. Make sure there is acid enough to balance the sugar, but for goodness sake don't make it tart - overly acid sweet coffee wine is horrific.

Now, there isn't a lot of point maturing coffee wine unless you've put too much acid in. Once it is clear and stable, chill it mercilessly and serve up in very small glasses with a coffee flavoured dessert - if the dessert is sweet enough, they might not notice how horrific the wine is! Alternatively don't bother and move onto something else.