Vanilla Wines, Sherries, and/or Meads

Vanilla Mead (5 Gallons)

April 5, 2001
  • 9 lbs of mesquite honey
  • 1 tblsp gypsum to harden up the water a bit
  • 4 ounce bottle of Madagascar vanilla extract
  • 6 tsp yeast nutrients
  • Champagne yeast

Hydrate the yeast in a cup of lukewarm water. In a separate container, dissolve the
yeast nutrient in another cup of lukewarm water. Mix the honey in two gallons hot water
in a primary and stir well to dissolve the honey. Then add three gallons minus two cups
of cool water and stir some more to mix ingredients and oxygenate the water. Add the
yeast and yeast nutrient. Cover and ferment 7 days. Transfer to a glass carboy and
fit airlock. Allow to ferment out (30-45 days). Taste. If too dry, stabilize and add
another cup of honey, stir, and taste again. Wait 10 days and rack and top up. Allow
to bulk age 60 days and rack into bottles. Age 1-2 years (the improvement between one
and two years will astound you). [Adapted from a traditional recipe]

Vanilla Wine

April 5, 2001
  • 2 cans (11.5 oz) Welch’s 100% white grape juice frozen concentrate
  • 4 vanilla beans (6-9 inches long)
  • 1-1/4 lbs granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp acid blend
  • 1 tsp pectic enzyme
  • 1 tsp yeast nutrient
  • water to make 1 gallon
  • wine yeast

Bring 1 quart water to boil and dissolve the sugar in the water. Remove from heat and add frozen concentrate. Add additional water to make one gallon and pour into secondary. Add remaining ingredients except yeast. Cover with napkin fastened with rubber band and set aside 12 hours. Add activated wine yeast and recover with napkin. When active fermentation slows down (about 5 days), fit airlock. After 30 days, rack into sanitized secondary. Taste wine. If vanilla flavor is sufficient to your taste, discard the vanilla beans. If not, transfer beans to new secondary by remove after additional 30 days and rack, top up and refit airlock. Wait additional 30 days and rack again, top up and refit airlock. After additional 30 days, stabilize, sweeten if desired and rack into bottles. [Author’s own recipe]