Gooseberry wine recipe

Gooseberry wine is one of the best homemade wine recipes you can get. Although the grape is the only fruit which has the correct balance of sugar, water and acid to make perfect wine, in my opinion the gooseberry inhabits the second echelon of winemaking ingredients after grapes. Gooseberries have been called the "Hairy Grape" - and for good reason, these berries are a great ingredient in a home wine recipe. Although you can add gooseberries to more or less any wine to increase its character, if you have a lot of gooseberries then make a complete gooseberry wine.

Gooseberries also lend themselves extremely well to the making of a sparkling wine. Gooseberry Champagne is nearly as good as the real thing!

A decent gallon of gooseberry wine made in early summer needs about 6lb of fresh ripe green gooseberries. As usual, pick the fruit on a warm dry day after lunchtime when the moisture has been driven from the surface of the fruit to prevent mould forming.

Top and tail all the gooseberries and find a means of crushing them. You can use your hands or devise some gooseberry crushing machine. Do not put them in the food processor or the blender otherwise you'll just get gooseberry pulp - no use in winemaking.

Put the crushed gooseberries in a sterilised winemaking bucket and add a generous dose of pectic enzyme. Pour over about two thirds of the water and leave in a warm place for a day to let the pectic enzyme break down the fruit.

The next day, add a crushed campden tablet and leave the soak for a further 24 hours.

The next day pour the mixture through a sieve to get the worst of the muck out of the solution. Leave it in a clear vessel for a further 24 hours, and wait for the remaining muck to sink to the bottom. Then rack the clear liquid off the layer of muck.

Make up to 1 gallon with cool water and add sugar to adjust the gravity to about 1080-1085. You shouldn't need to add any acid, but a 1/4 pint of grape juice concentrate instead of some of the sugar helps a great deal. Either titrate or taste and add more acid if required. The liquid will certainly be acidic enough for the yeast, so you can always add a touch more citric acid after the fermentation if the resulting wine is a bit flabby.

Add some yeast. The best choice is probably a Champagne yeast such as good old EC1118. Leave the to ferment out and proceed as for any other wine. Once the wine is clear, adjust the acid and leave to mature for 6 months.

If you are making a sparkling gooseberry champagne then your starting gravity should be near 1070. Once the wine is clear and matured for 6 months, dose up each gallon of wine with 2-3oz of sugar and introduce some vigorously fermenting champagne yeast, put in champagne bottles (or plastic cola bottles if you are lazy) and proceed as for any other sparkling wine.

You don't really have to add much grape juice concentrate - it isn't compulsory in any gooseberry wine.

If you grow your own gooseberries then I strongly recommend a couple of gallons of gooseberry wine each year. If you are particularly keen, you should make gooseberry sparkling champagne as it is really one of the finest sparkling wines.