Blueberry Wines, Sherries, and/or Meads

Blueberries, like cranberries, bilberries, whortleberries, farkleberries, grouseberries, deerberries, mayberries, cowberries, and huckleberries, belong to the genus Vaccinium (although most botanists break huckleberries out into a seperate subgenus– Gaylussacia). There are dozens of species and varieties of blueberries in the United States and Canada ranging from the Atlantic to the Pacific and the Gulf Coast to the Hudson Bay, but basically there are four groupings of wild blueberries–the dwarf, low (lowbush), high (highbush) and bog (or swamp) blueberry. Their plants can vary from a sprawling groundcover a few inches high (dwarf) to three feet in height (lowbush) to large bushes 12 feet high (highbush) or to near-trees as large as 15 feet tall (bog). The fruit of the highbush blueberry varies in color among species from black to powder blue; their size varies from 1/4 to an inch in diameter. The most common and important of the highbush is the blue Vaccinium corymbosum, the species from which most commercial varieties were derived. Ripe blueberries can be crushed fresh for fermentation or dried for later chopping or mincing before being added to a must. They are usually sweet and aromatic but may retain some astringency until they have weathered a frost. They are rich in vitamins A, C and rutin, rich in iron and moderately rich in several other minerals, contain a fair amount of tannin and pectin, and contain malic, citric, tartaric, and benzoic acids. Their sugar content is moderate and they contain several glucosides. The oft-cited caution that they contain sorbic acid and will not ferment is completely untrue. It is their richness in chemistry, but especially their benzoic acid, that sometimes makes them difficult to actively inoculate with yeast, but this same richness makes for complex and varied wines once fermentation has run its course. Indeed, in a recent survey of favorite non-grape wines, blueberry was second only to blackberry in popularity.

Blueberry-Elderberry Port

April 5, 2001
  • 6 lb. blueberries
  • 6 oz. dried elderberries
  • 1 cup red grape concentrate
  • 1/2 cup light dry malt
  • 1-1/2 lb. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. pectic enzyme
  • 1-1/2 tsp. acid blend
  • 1/2 tsp. USP glycerin
  • 1/2 tsp. yeast energizer
  • 4 pt. water
  • 63 ml brandy
  • 2 finely crushed and dissolved Campden tablets
  • port wine yeast

Wash and crush blueberries in nylon straining bag and strain juice into primary fermentation vessel. Add dried
elderberries to bag, tie closed and place in primary. Stir in dry malt, sugar, acid blend, yeast energizer, water,
and one of the Campden tablets. Stir well to dissolve sugar and other solids. The starting s.g. should be 1.118 to
yield 16% abv. Cover the primary, set aside for 12 hours. Add pectic enzyme and cover for another 12 hours. Add
yeast, cover again, and daily stir ingredients and press pulp in nylon bag to extract flavor. When specific gravity
is 1.030 (about 5-7 days days), strain juice from bag and rack liquor off sediments into glass secondary. Fit
fermentation trap and ferment to dryness. Rack in three weeks and again in two months. When wine is clear and stable,
add red grape concentrate, brandy, the second Campden tablet, and glycerin. Let wine rest another two months, rack
again and bottle. Allow a year to mature. [Author’s own recipe]

Blueberry Mead (1 Gallon)

April 5, 2001
  • 2 lb clover honey
  • 2 12-oz bag blueberries (frozen)
  • 1 used teabag jasmine tea
  • 1/2 tsp pectic enzyme
  • 1 tsp yeast nutrient
  • Red Star Champagne yeast

Mix honey into 3 qts water and bring to boil. Boil 20 minutes, skimming off any
scum that forms. Meanwhile, place thawed blueberries in nylon straining bag and mash
in primary. Pour boiling water over blueberries, used teabag, pectic enzyme, and yeast
nutrient. When cooled to 70-75 degrees, sprinkle wine yeast over surface. Cover and
squeeze nylon bag daily for 7 days. Drain blueberries, squeezing well to extract
flavor. Discard teabag. Transfer liquid to secondary, fit airlock and ferment
additional 30 days. Rack, top up and refit airlock. Stabilize when clear, wait 10
days, and rack into bottles. Age 1-2 years. [Adapted from a traditional recipe]

Blueberry Melomel Recipe (2)

April 5, 2001
  • 2-1/2 lbs clover honey (you can use any honey)
  • 1 gallon Knudsen’s Just Blueberries unsweetened juice
  • 1 Campden tablet
  • 3/4 tsp yeast nutrient
  • 1/4 tsp yeast energizer
  • 1 tsp Red Star Assmannshausen wine yeast

On the morning before, add the yeast to a starter solution. That night, crush the
Campden tablet very fine and stir it and all other ingredients into the must except
the yeast starter solution and cover the primary. The next morning, pitch the yeast
starter solution and recover primary. Stir daily until s.g. drops to 1.010, then
transfer to secondary and attach airlock. Ferment 30 days and rack, top up and
reattach airlock. Wait 30-45 days and rack again, then repeat after additional 30-45
days. After third 30-45-day period, inspect bottom of secondary for sediment. It
should be clean, in which case you can bottle the mead, but if a very light dusting is
visible rack once again and bottle after a few days. Bottle age at least 3 months,
but longer aging is encouraged. [Author’s own recipe]

Blackberry-Blueberry Wine

April 5, 2001

  • 4 lbs blackberries
  • 4 lb fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 2 lbs granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp pectic enzyme
  • 1/2 tsp acid blend
  • 3 qts water
  • 1 tsp yeast nutrient
  • wine yeast

Put water on to boil. Meanwhile, wash and sort blackberries and blueberries. Put fruit in nylon straining bag, tie end, put in primary, and mash fruit. Add sugar to primary and pour boiling water over fruit and sugar, stirring well to dissolve. Cover and allow to cool. When lukewarm, stir in acid blend, pectic enzyme and yeast nutrient. Recover, add yeast after 12 hours and gently squeeze bag twice daily for 7 days to extract flavors. Drip drain (do not squeeze) and pour liquid into secondary and fit airlock. After fermentation dies down (5-7 days) top up and refit airlock. Ferment 2 months and rack into clean secondary. Top up, refit airlock, and ferment until wine clears. Wait additional 2 months, rack into bottles and age 6-12 months. [Author’s own recipe]

Highbush Blueberry (Full Bodied)

April 5, 2001
  • 2 1/2 lb. blueberries
  • 1 cup red grape concentrate
  • 1 lb. 6 oz. granulated sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. pectic enzyme
  • 1-1/2 tsp. acid blend
  • 1 tsp. yeast nutrient
  • 1/4 tsp. yeast energizer
  • water to 1 gallon
  • wine yeast

Bring water to boil, then set aside. Wash and crush blueberries and put in primary fermentation vessel with
all ingredients except yeast. Add hot water and stir to dissolve sugar. Cover well and allow to cool to 70-75
degrees F., then add an activated yeast starter. Stir daily for 5-6 days or until specific gravity is below 1.030.
Strain out fruit pulp and press. Siphon into secondary fermentation vessel and fit fermentation trap. Rack and
sulfite in three weeks and again in two months. When wine is clear, rack and stablize. Sweeten to taste, set aside
30 days, and bottle. Allow a year to mature. Improves with age. [ Author’s own recipe ]

Highbush Blueberry (Medium Bodied)

April 5, 2001
  • 2 lb. blueberries
  • 1 cup red grape concentrate
  • 1 3/4 lb. granulated sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. pectic enzyme
  • 1-1/2 tsp. acid blend
  • 1/4 tsp. yeast energizer
  • 1 crushed Campden tablet
  • water to one gallon
  • wine yeast

Wash and crush blueberries in nylon straining bag and strain juice into primary fermentation vessel. Tie top of
nylon bag and place in primary fermentation vessel. Stir in all other ingredients except yeast, Campden and red grape
concentrate. Stir well to dissolve sugar, cover well, and set aside for 12 hours. Add crushed and dissolved Campden
tablet and set aside another 12 hours. Add yeast, cover, and daily stir ingredients and press pulp in nylon bag to
extract flavor. When specific gravity is below 1.030 (about 5 days), strain juice from bag, stir, and transfer liquid
into glass secondary fermentation vessel. Attach airlock and place in warm place. Rack in three weeks and again in
two months. When wine is clear rack again, stabilize and add red grape concentrate. Wait 30 days and bottle. Allow
a year to mature. [ Author’s own recipe ]

Lowbush Blueberry (Full Bodied)

April 5, 2001
  • 2 lb. blueberries
  • 1 lb. raisins
  • 2 lb. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. pectic enzyme
  • 1-1/2 tsp. acid blend
  • 1/2 tsp. yeast energizer
  • water to 1 gallon
  • crushed Campden tablet
  • wine yeast

Bring water to boil, then set aside. Wash and crush blueberries and put in primary fermentation vessel with all
ingredients except yeast. Add hot water and stir to dissolve sugar. Cover well and allow to cool to 70-75 degrees F., then add yeast. Stir daily for 5-6 days or until specific gravity is 1.040. Strain out fruit pulp and press. Siphon into secondary fermentation vessel and fit fermentation trap. Rack in three weeks and again in three months. When wine is clear and stable, rack again and bottle. Allow a year to mature. Improves with age. [Adapted from Stanley F. Anderson and Raymond Hull’s The Art of Making Wine ]

Lowbush Blueberry (Full Bodied, Semi-Sec)

April 5, 2001
  • 2 lb. blueberries
  • 1/2 pt. red grape concentrate
  • 1-1/4 lb. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. pectic enzyme
  • 1-1/2 tsp. acid blend
  • 1/2 tsp. yeast energizer
  • 1/2 tsp. wine stabilizer
  • 7 pt. water
  • crushed Campden tablet
  • wine yeast

Wash and crush blueberries in nylon straining bag and strain juice into primary fermentation vessel. Tie top of nylon bag and place in primary fermentation vessel. Stir in all other ingredients except yeast, stabilizer and red grape concentrate. Stir well to dissolve sugar, cover well, and set aside for 24 hours. Add yeast, cover, and daily stir ingredients and press pulp in nylon bag to extract flavor. When specific gravity is 1.030 (about 5 days), strain juice from bag and siphon liquor off sediments into glass secondary fermentation vessel. Fit fermentation trap. Rack in three weeks and again in two months. When wine is clear and stable, rack again, add stabilizer and red grape concentrate, and bottle. Allow a year to mature. [Adapted from Raymond Massaccesi’s Winemaker’s Recipe Handbook ]

Lowbush Blueberry (Medium Bodied)

April 5, 2001
  • 3 pts blueberries
  • 2 lbs granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. pectic enzyme
  • 1 tsp yeast nutrient
  • 7 pt. water
  • wine yeast

Put water on to boil and stir in sugar until dissolved. Meanshile, wash blueberries, put in nylon straining bag and tie bag closed. In primary fermentation vessel, crush blueberries. Pour boiling water into primary and stir well, cover, and set aside to cool. Stir in yeast nutrient and pectic enzyme, recover primary and set aside for 12 hours. Add activated yeast and recover. Stir daily and press pulp in nylon bag to extract flavor. Ferment 10 days, strain juice from bag and allow to settle overnight. Siphon liquor off sediments into glass secondary and fit airlock. Rack, top up and refit airlock every 60 days until wine is clear and all signs of fermentation are at least 30 days past (6-7 months). Stabilize, wait two weeks and rack into bottles. Allow 6-12 to mature. [Adapted from Steven A. Krause’s Wines from the Wilds ]

Lowbush Blueberry (Light Bodied, Dry)

April 5, 2001
  • 2 lb. blueberries
  • 1-1/4 lb. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. pectic enzyme
  • 1-1/2 tsp. acid blend
  • 1/2 tsp. yeast energizer
  • 1 tsp yeast nutrient
  • 71/4 pt. water
  • crushed Campden tablet
  • wine yeast

Put water on to boil and stir in sugar until dissolved. Meanshile, wash blueberries, put in nylon straining bag and tie bag closed. In primary fermentation vessel, crush blueberries. Pour boiling water into primary and stir well, cover, and set aside to cool. When room temperature, stir in crushed Campden tablet, acid blend, yeast energizer, and yeast nutrient. Cover and set aside 12 hours. Stir in pectic enzyme and set aside another 12 hours, covered. Add activated yeast and cover. Stir daily and press pulp in nylon bag to extract flavor. When specific gravity is 1.020 (about 7 days), strain juice from bag and allow to settle overnight. Siphon liquor off sediments into glass secondary and fit airlock. Rack, top up and refit airlock after 30 days and again every 60 days until wine is clear and all signs of fermentation are at least 30 days past. Stabilize, wait two weeks and rack into bottles. Allow a year to mature. [Author’s own recipe]

Tinned Blueberry Or Blackberry Wine

April 5, 2001
  • 2 16-oz cans blueberries or blackberries in light syrup
  • 1-3/4 lbs granulated sugar
  • 3-1/2 qts water
  • 2 tsp acid blend
  • 1/8 tsp grape tannin
  • 1 tsp yeast nutrient
  • 1/2 tsp pectic enzyme
  • Montrachet wine yeast

Heat water, but do not boil. Drain syrup from fruit and set syrup aside. Put fruit in nylon straining bag, tie end closed, set in primary. Add sugar to hot water and stir well to dissolve sugar. Add syrup from fruit. Pour the water/syrup over fruit in primary, cover with clean cloth and allow to cool to room temperature (about 4 hours). Add remaining ingredients except yeast and recover primary. Wait 12 hours, add yeast and recover. Let ferment 5 days, punching bag down twice a day. Measure specific gravity. When S.G. reaches 1.020, drip drain (but don’t squeeze) the bag of fruit. Discard fruit or save it for jam. Allow wine to settle overnight and rack into secondary. Top up and fit airlock. Rack after 2 months and again after additional 2 months. If certain fermentation has ceased, bottle. If not certain, either wait another 2 months and rack into bottles or stabilize, wait 10 days, and rack into bottles. This wine may be tasted young, but will be much better after 9 months. [Author’s own recipe]