Is it peach season or what? Peach facial, jam, wine, salsa, pies, ice cream, sparkling sangria… so many ways to like your peach! Well, today we go for wine. Just so you know, peach wine is rich in vitamin A, potassium, thiamine, calcium, antioxidants (duh!), vitamin c, and niacin. But, nutritional benefits aside, its sweet, summery flavor and the pinkish, sun-kissed color are a great addition to any dinner table.
Peaches are high in sugar and acid, making them perfect for canning as well as wine-making. In this guide, we go through the basics of making peach wine with core ingredients, all the way up to additives, making it sparkly, back stabilization, taste testing, and aging.
Instead of keeping you on a leash with a recipe that says “how to make the best peach wine ever,” we’ll stretch the radius of our discussion and include ways of tweaking with the steps and ingredients. Of course, I’ll explain the results you get with each variation, so you can determine what works for you and feel freer to play around with the outcome.
Peach Wine Basic Ingredients and Preparation
You only need three things to turn peaches into wine: peaches, water, and yeast. You’ll also need sugar for better results, although it is not mandatory. Be warned, however, working with the basics exclusively might not produce the best end product if you are looking to introduce your homemade bottle to a dinner table or other recipes in your kitchen.
You could go for either yellow or white peaches. The yellow-fleshed ones are more acidic and boast a tartness that subsides the more they ripen and soften. On the other hand, white peaches are defined by more sweetness and lower acidic content. Your peaches could also come fresh or frozen, although fresh often gives the best results.
When working with fresh peaches, you want to let them ripe as much as possible without going bad. Now, while a few recipes will tell you to extract the peach juice with a juicer, this technique doesn’t work well. When put in a juicer, the extra soft pulp of peaches is more likely to leave you with a peach puree instead of actual juice.
The best alternative here is the sugar juicing technique, much like what is used in rhubarb wine. It is a simple, straightforward juice extraction technique that uses sugar only.
- You chop your peaches into small pieces, put them in a bowl, and stir in the sugar. The sugar breaks down the peach cells and draws out the natural juices and flavor.
- Be sure to use a lot of sugar, especially if you are not going for dry wine. Even if you were to use a juicer, you’d still have to add sugar anyway.
- Now, the mixture may look absurd with all that sugar covering your sliced peaches. No worries, though. Stir well and leave it for an hour or less.
- Open your bowl and voila! You now have peach juice – very sweet peach juice.
Note: for the dry wine lover, you could skip the whole sugar-juicing process and simply chop your peach into small pieces or use a juicer.
If you are going with frozen peaches, there’s no need to macerate with sugar. The process of freezing and thawing fruits breaks them down such that you end up with something similar to the process above. The only caveat: use a reputable frozen peaches brand. The peaches should regain their fleshy, flavorful state once they thaw or your wine won’t have much flavor either.
Are you a dry, medium-sweet, or extra-sweet wine lover? You don’t have to use sugar when making wine, but including none at all will result in very dry wine. If you extracted the juice from your peach with sugar, you don’t need to add much. The sugar helps bring out the peaches’ flavor as well as increase alcohol content.
White granulated sugar is fine here, but you could also add some brown sugar for a deeper flavor. Brown sugar is also great at bringing out other flavors you may want to introduce in the fermentation process, such as vanilla bean and cinnamon sticks.
You can skip the sugar because peaches have some, but yeast is a must. The type of yeast you choose will impact the final alcohol content of your product. Some yeast types produce alcohol for longer, others die out sooner and the fermentation process with them. The labels usually indicate the yeast’s tolerance to alcohol.
Are you ready to step it up a notch with expert-level yeast-sugar balance? Here are some results you can achieve:
- Sweet wine with a low ABV: use yeast with a low alcohol tolerance, so it stops working before breaking down all the sugar. You could also use any yeast with less sugar during fermentation so that the sugar runs out and halts the process, then back sweeten your wine afterward (more on that later).
- Sweet wine with a high ABV: use yeast with high alcohol tolerance alongside lots of sugar. Back sweetening is still possible here in case you don’t achieve your desired sugar content.
- A dry wine with a low ABV: use yeast that has low alcohol tolerance and less sugar. Do you get the drift?
- A dry wine with a high ABV: use yeast with high alcohol tolerance and a fair sugar level, just enough to last the yeast’s lifespan.
Begin by immersing your yeast in warm, non-chlorinated water, about 100 0F. Let it sit there for a few minutes to activate. Adding the yeast directly into the broth of peach, sugar, and other ingredients might shock it and prevent it from activating properly. Ensure you break any clumps in the yeast before you put it in the water. You also want to stir it well.
You could leave the mixture in the house at room temperature or put it under the sun. The yeast should hydrate in 15-30 minutes. You’ll know it is ready when there is a noticeable increase in size or when the mixture starts to bubble.
Next, you want to put everything together, which includes the sugar-juiced peaches and yeast. At this stage, you can also add any other ingredients that you wish to use for building on the flavor, maintain proper pH, and helping break down the peach. They may include lemon juice, tannin source, cinnamon sticks, and vanilla beans, among others. Ensure the container is covered so that it doesn’t let in flies or other insects and contaminants.
If you would like to replicate the results, be sure to measure the specific gravity and temperature of the mixture at this point. Let it bubble for about a week or two.
Once things begin to settle down, rack the wine into a secondary container, leaving all the sediments behind. Although it is not written in stone that you must transfer the wine into a secondary fermentation container, it is highly recommended if you are aiming for the best results and clear wine. Either way, it already has enough alcohol content by the time you are done with the primary fermentation stage.
Racking is best done with the help of a siphon. Ensure the tube does not touch the base of the primary fermentation container where the sediments are concentrated. Alternatively, you could pour the mixture through a cheesecloth, or do both, such that it goes through the cheesecloth on the other end of the siphon tube. Secondary fermentation takes another 3-6 months; then, you can taste and bottle the wine or let it age a little longer.
No matter how well you racked it the first time, high chances are sediments will have formed at the bottom again. They’ll be finer this time. You’ll need to siphon it again, ensuring no sediments end up in the bottle. Seal it with a wine cork or use a mason jar.
Stabilizing and Back Sweetening
Sometimes the yeast does its job a little too well, and you end up with less tasty wine, especially if you are not a dry wine person. This is where back sweetening comes in – although you have to stabilize it first since the fermentation process may keep going.
The best point to stabilize your wine is after racking it several times, clarifying, and checking that the activity inside has stopped. Otherwise, your stabilization attempts will only be able to slow down fermentation.
The most common stabilizers you can use are potassium sorbate and Camden tablets (also referred to as potassium metabisulfite). You can only stabilize wine that you don’t intend on carbonating naturally. Otherwise, the carbonation process won’t work.
As for back sweetening, don’t let the word fool you; it is as simple as adding a sweetener to the wine that is done fermenting. If you are new to wine-making, you may often find yourself with wine that is too dry and requires more sweetening. Not to mention, sometimes the sugar is all it takes to bring out the flavor, especially in fruit wines.
How to Make Sparkling Peach Wine?
Peach wine is often tastier when served all bubbly and chilled. You can turn your wine sparkly after you are done with the fermentation process through natural carbonation or by force-carbonation.
For natural carbonation of a single bottle, mix about half a cup of water with a half cup of brown sugar and rack the wine into the mixture, swirling it in the process. Bottle the wine in airtight bottles, preferably meant for beer. Ordinary wine bottles might not hold when the internal pressure starts building. You could stop by your local homebrew store to find out if they have more options intended for this use.
You will have to allow the wine to sit for at least a month or two, during which any remaining yeast will be acting on the sugar to carbonate your wine. Remember, the bottle has to be air-tight or you will lose all the fizziness.
For force carbonation: you will need a setup for the job, much like what’s used in carbonating beer, including a keg.
They say, “patience is a virtue of the gods, who have nothing but time.” You can drink your wine right after primary fermentation, wait for secondary fermentation, or let it age even longer. After stabilization, you may want to let your wine age for 6 more months or more. Your patience will be rewarded accordingly, so long as you performed each step without introducing contaminants.
Be sure to store it away from sunlight. In case it is not clear enough, you may introduce clarifying agents at this stage. The common ones are SuperKleer and Gelatin. Filtering is not a bad idea either. However, the clarifying part and filtering are better done before bottling the wine and letting it age.
Throughout your fermentation and aging process, you may find yourself tempted to taste the wine a few times. It is not uncommon. However, you must know that wine that is hardly 3 months old may taste a bit vinegary. Therefore, don’t conclude that you’ve made vinegar just yet but rather let it finish aging.
In a few cases, some people end up with vinegar when making wine, even after allowing it to age significantly. It often occurs when batches become contaminated with bacteria due to unclean equipment or bad peaches.
Final Word: Mixing Ratios
You know how to make peach wine now, but you are not going to put a kilogram of yeast into a kilogram of peach juice, are you? To be safe, here are some more pointers:
- The general rule of thumb is to use sugar and peach in a ratio of 5:2. You could go lower or higher depending on how dry or sweet you like your wine.
- 2 kg of peaches pairs well with about 5 liters of water. Scale it up or down as you wish.
- For 2kg of peaches and 5 liters of water, consider 1 sachet of yeast, a ½ tsp of wine tannin (to add a bit of astringency and balance to the flavor), and ½ tsp of an acid blend (such as lemon juice, to help lower the overall pH).
- Again, for the same ratios above, a single Campden tablet would be enough during stabilization.
- You can add about ½ tsp of Pectic enzyme per gallon before fermentation to help break down the peach cells.
- Add 1tsp of yeast nutrient per gallon of wine to help keep the little beasts thriving.