Cherries make the perfect summer snack, but they also make a fantastic summery fruit wine.
If a deep, red wine with the characteristic floral, fruity, and tart flavor of a cherry sounds good to you — you're in luck.
Cherry wine is hard to find at the store, but making it at home is surprisingly easy and delicious. In this recipe, we use fresh cherries, but hint: it'll be just as good with 100% cherry juice, too. Trader Joe's has excellent tart cherry juice that we love to use.
All the Equipment You'll Need
- A cherry pitter: This will make the process of removing the cherry pits much easier and faster.
- A glass gallon jug or bucket: this is where you'll be fermenting your cherry wine.
- An airlock: allows carbonation to escape while your wine is fermenting, but prevents anything else from getting in.
- Cheesecloth: This will be used to strain your cherry juice before fermentation begins.
- An extra gallon jug or bottles: to store your finished product.
Prepping Your Cherries
The first ingredient you will need is, of course, cherries! If you are using fresh cherries, you will need to pit them before proceeding. This can be done by using a cherry pitter, or by carefully cutting the cherry in half and removing the pit with a knife. If you are using frozen cherries, you'll want to thaw them before use.
Once thawed and pitted, place the berries in a large pot or bowl and crush them with a spoon or potato masher. Add the sugar and hot water, and stir well.
Step 3: Preparing for Fermentation
If you're fermenting your cherry wine in a glass gallon jug, strain the mash and skins out with a cheesecloth, then add the mixture to your gallon jug.
Make sure there's at least 4 inches of space for headroom in your fermentation vessel. If there isn't, pour out a bit of the juice to avoid overflowing during fermentation.
Next, in order to start the fermentation process, you’ll need a wine yeast. In this recipe, we use the brewsy bag, which is a combination of an industry-exclusive wine yeast, nutrients for healthy yeast, energizer for a quick and hearty fermentation, potassium bicarbonate (to reduce strong, acidic flavors), malolactic culture (to make your wine smoother) and bentonite (a clarifier for sparkling clear wine). It's the only way to ensure that you have a reliably strong and successful fermentation.
Add an entire Brewsy bag in, and pop on your airlock on top (making sure it's full of water).
Step 4: Fermentation
Your cherry wine will start to ferment within 24 to 48 hours, and will continue doing so for about 5 to 7 days(sometimes longer). You'll know it's done when the bubbling has slowed down significantly (fermentation creates carbon dioxide, which causes bubbling in the airlock), or when it starts to taste a bit dry.
When in doubt, taste-test your cherry wine for sweetness, and then go onto the next step when your wine tastes dry enough for your liking. If it still tastes too sweet, let it keep fermenting for several more days until it tastes more dry.
Step 5: Filtering Your Wine
Once the bubbling has slowed down significantly, it's time to get rid of the lees (that's the sediment that has settled at the bottom of your carboy) and prep your wine to be enjoyed!
We definitely don't want any yeasty particles in our wine, so we're going to get rid of them by first forcing any leftover yeasty bits to the bottom of the container.
A great way to do this it simply to pop your wine in the fridge! Keep it in there for at least two days. The cold forces any leftover particles to fall to the bottom of your container.
After that, you'll need to filter (or 'rack') your wine. To do this, simply pour your wine off of the lees (all that cloudy sediment that will show up at the bottom) at into another container. You can also grab a siphon for a totally mess-free transfer (which can be tricky if you're not used to it, but super effective!)
Optionally, you might want to use a clarifying agent, which works on the molecular level to bind to small particles in your mead — particles that might lead to yeasty, bitter flavors. Every Brewsy kit comes with a clarifying agent to rid your wine of any off-flavors and make it sparkling clear.
Step 6: Bottling Your Cherry Wine
Many winemakers believe that aging helps to bring out the subtle flavors in the fruit, resulting in a more delicious final product. But some people prefer the bright flavor of young cherry wine!
We recommend having a glass now, and saving a few bottles for later (this recipe will yield 4 750mL regular-sized wine bottles). You can compare the taste of younger and aged wine, and see which one you like better!
The most common complain we hear about cherry wine is that it sometimes comes out too dry. Don't worry, it will get better with time. But, if yours seems to lack flavor, you'll want to backsweeten it by making a simple syrup.
We hope you enjoyed this recipe for cherry wine! Ready to get started? Grab a Brewsy winemaking kit, which has all the tools you need to guarantee delicious and reliable cherry wine (or cyser or whatever you'd like!) every time you make it! (and use code FRUIT15 for 15% off, too).