Nettle wine recipe

Nettles don't sound like the ideal ingredient in a winemaking recipe, however the humble nettle is actually quite a versatile plant that can be used in salads and teas as well as a base for a good wine.

Clearly one has to be quite careful when picking nettles. Some sort of gloves are in order. Pick only the newest shoots from the top of the nettles during the spring and collect in a plastic bucket. You probably need at least 2 litres of nettle tops (when pressed down) to make a decent gallon of homemade wine.

Pick the nettles for winemaking on a warm sunny dry day just after lunch so the nettles are dry and fresh. Make the wine immediately after picking the nettles.

Take the zest of a couple of lemons and a teaspoon of grated up root ginger and put these, along with the nettle tops in a large pan with fresh water and bring to the boil. Simmer the pan very gentle for about half an hour.

Strain and pour the hot liquid over a 1 kilo bag of sugar into a winemaking bucket. Make sure the sugar is dissolved and make up to 1 gallon with cool water and then add more sugar to adjust the gravity to about 1080.

Add the juice of the two lemons, or a bit of winemaking acid mix and 1 crushed campden tablet. Leave the whole thing for 24 hours and then the next day rack the liquid off. This will separate any bits of solid from the liquid.

Introduce the yeast. Gervin number 1 yeast is probably fine for Nettle wine. Let the fermentation complete in the normal manner.

Once the wine is clear let it mature for 6 months in the demi-john and then bottle and enjoy. Nettle wine benefits from being well chilled.

Using less nettle tops makes for a lighter wine, and using more nettle tops will increase the tannic content of the wine. This will make it take longer to mature, but ultimately results in a more interesting wine.

Other possible additions are a couple of raw bananas in the boiling stage to add a bit more body to the wine. You could also add a 1/4 pint of grape juice concentrate to give the wine more character. Like many wines of this type, you need a lot of yeast nutrient.

Nettle wine does sound like something straight out of the good life, but is quite pleasant. Nettles grow everywhere in the UK, and even if you can't bring yourself to drink nettle tea or enjoy nettle soup, or nettle salad, then please do the sensible thing and make some nettle wine to scare visitors with!