Ginger Wines, Sherries, and/or Meads

Parsnip and Ginger Wine

February 28, 2012

If you have ever eaten parsnip and ginger soup, parsnip and ginger pakoras, parsnip and ginger cake or muffins, or parsnip and ginger anything you know how well the flavors combine. The nutty sweetness of parsnips and the warming spiciness of ginger just go well together. Parsnips and ginger wine is a real treat in the cooler months of the year and adds a little je ne sais quoi to any meal. Make it once and you will be glad you did. Because this wine takes so long to make, start a batch every 3 months and you will be very thankful you did. Finally, the parsnips can be recycled to make a great side dish to any meal (recipe included).

The recipe calls for setting aside the cooked parsnips for use in a second recipe. By all means do this. You can change the complexity of the second recipe by adding 1 cup of peeled, sliced, very well cooked carrots; 1 summer or butternut squash peeled, deseeded, sliced and cooked; or 1 peeled, diced and well-cooked rutabagas or sweet potato.

The wine recipe calls for 1 pound on ripe bananas, peeled and sliced. Banana peels turn dark when ripe and the banana meat inside turns soft and translucent. Make sure the bananas are ripe before using for wine.

  • 4 lbs parsnips
  • 1 lb ripe bananas
  • 10-1/2 oz can of white grape concentrate
  • 1 inch ginger root very thinly sliced
  • 4 lbs finely granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp acid blend
  • 7-1/4 pts water
  • 1 tsp yeast nutrient
  • 1/8 tsp yeast energizer
  • Sauternes wine yeast

Put 1 pint water on to boil and add sugar, stirring until completely dissolved. Set aside in sterilized jar for later use. Meanwhile, scrub and rinse the parsnips well (do not peel) and then slice them crosswise into thin discs no thicker than 1/4 inch. Trim the meat from the fibrous core of the larger slices and discard the cores. Smaller slices can be left as is. Place parsnips only in nylon straining bag, tie closed, and settle in large saucepan with 3 quarts water on high heat. Add thinly sliced ginger root to saucepan. Peel and slice the bananas and add them to saucepan. Bring to rolling boil, reduce heat to maintain a low boil for 30 minutes, covered, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat to cool, but immediately drip drain parsnips 2-3 minutes, then place bag in large bowl to cool separately; set aside. After saucepan cools 2 hours, place a large funnel with straining screen insert in a 1-gallon secondary and carefully pour liquid through funnel. Seal secondary with paper towel folded and secured with rubber band. Set aside to settle for 24 hours. Meanwhile, use parsnips as per the recipe below.

After 24 hours, siphon the clear liquid off the sediment into clean secondary. Add thawed grape concentrate, acid blend, tannin, and yeast nutrient and energizer. Stir to mix and add activated wine yeast. Cover secondary with paper towel held in place with rubber band. When fermentation is vigorous, add sugar-water and fit airlock. Ferment until wine begins clearing. Rack, top up and refit airlock. When wine is completely clear, rack again and add 1/2 teaspoon potassium sorbate and 1 finely crushed Campden tablet dissolved in 1/2 cup water, stir, top up and refit airlock. After 3 weeks, rack again and add additional crushed Campden tablet dissolved in 1/2 cup water. Sweeten to specific gravity 1.008, top up and refit airlock. Check airlock periodically and rack every 3 months for 18 months, adding additional crushed Campden tablet dissolved in 1/2 cup water every 3rd racking. Rack into bottles and store additional 4-6 months. Yes, it’s a long process but entirely worth it. [Jack Keller’s own recipe]

Green Tea & Ginger Wine

April 5, 2001
  • 16 teaspoons or teabags of Green Tea
  • 1 cup chopped white or golden raisins
  • 1 ounce thinly sliced ginger root
  • 2 lbs granulated sugar
  • zest & juice of 1 lime
  • zest & juice of 2 small lemons
  • water to 1 gallon
  • 1 tsp yeast nutrient
  • 1 pkt wine yeast

Boil water and pour over all ingredients but yeast (in primary). When water
cools to under 100 degrees F., add activated yeast. When specific gravity
drops to 1.015-1.010, strain tea, ginger and zest. Transfer liquid to
secondary and attach airlock. Ferment to dryness, rack, top up, and reaffix
airlock. Stabilize when clear. Wait 30 days, sweeten if desired, and rack
into bottles. Allow 3-6 months to smooth out. [Author’s own recipe]

Zingimel (Ginger Mead)

April 5, 2001
  • 2-1/2 lbs clover honey (you can use any honey)
  • 1/2 oz ginger root, peeled and sliced crosswise
  • juice of one large orange
  • water to 1 gal
  • 1 Campden tablet
  • 1/2 tsp yeast nutrient
  • 1/4 tsp yeast energizer
  • 1 sachet Lalvin 71B-1122 (or Red Star Pasteur Champagne) wine yeast

Heat 1 quart water to perhaps 120 degrees F. and stir in the honey. Cover and remove from heat.
Meanwhile, brought a separate 2 cups water with the ginger root slices to a gentle boil. When
ginger slices begin to turn translucent carefully strain water into honey-water, discarding the root
or saving for a mild tea. In primary, combine two quarts cold water, orange juice, yeast nutrient
and energizer, and combined honey- and ginger-waters. Bring volume up to one gallon, cover and
allow to cool to about 80 degrees F. Pitch activated yeast and recover primary. After 2 days stir
daily until s.g. drops to 1.010 (mine did this on day 9), then transfer to secondary and attach
airlock. Ferment 30 days and rack, add a finely ground and dissolved Campden tablet, top up and
reattach airlock. Wait 60 days and rack again, then repeat after additional 60 days. After third
60-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 and serve chilled. [Author’s own recipe]

Ginger Wine

April 5, 2001
  • 7-1/2 pts unsweetened white grape juice (from concentrate)
  • 1/2 lb chopped or minced golden raisins
  • 2 oz ginger root
  • 2 lbs granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp acid blend
  • 1/4 tsp grape tannin
  • 1 tsp yeast nutrient
  • 1 pkt Champagne wine yeast

Mix up the grape juice and dissolve the sugar into it in the primary fermentation vessel. Shred the ginger and add it and the chopped or minced raisins to the primary. Add acid blend, tannin and yeast nutrient to must and stir well to dissolve. Sprinkle dry yeast on top of must (do not stir) and cover primary with sterilized cloth. After two days, stir twice daily until specific gravity drops to 1.020. Pour must through nylon straining bag (to collect solids) into secondary and squeeze bag to extract all juice. Discard solids and fit airlock to secondary. Rack after 30 days, top up and reattach airlock. Ferment to absolute dryness (about 2 more months), stabilize, sweeten to taste, wait 10 additional days, and rack into bottles. May drink immediately, but will improve with 6 months aging. This wine may be served as is or blended with other wines lacking in interest. [Adapted from W.H.T. Tayleur’s The Penguin Book of Home Brewing & Wine-Making ]