According to Wild Winemaking (Storey Publishing, 2018) making wine at home just got more fun, and easier, with Richard Bender’s experiments. Whether you’re new to winemaking or a seasoned pro, you’ll find this innovative manual accessible, thanks to its focus on small batches that require minimal equipment and use an unexpected range of readily available fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs. The ingredient list is irresistibly curious. How about banana wine or dark chocolate peach? Plum champagne or sweet potato saké? Chamomile, sweet basil, blood orange Thai dragon, kumquat cayenne, and even cannabis rhubarb wines have earned a place in Bender’s flavor collection. Go ahead, give it a try.
I was growing lemon basil and lime basil to use in cooking. I would chop them in a blender with a little water and freeze the basil slurry in ice cube trays for later use. I had several 1-gallon bags of these basil cubes in the freezer when I came up with the idea of using them with lemons and limes in a wine. This is a spectacular sweet wine with intense citrus flavor and hints of basil. People who love lemons will really like it as a dessert wine, and it also makes an incredible cooking wine.
Lemon basil and lime basil aren’t as readily available in grocery stores as sweet basil, so you may have to grow them yourself. Any large, well-stocked garden center will carry seed packets of these varieties.
- 1/2 pound raisins
- 3 pounds mixed lemons and limes
- 1 quart lemon basil
- 1 quart lime basil
- 1 gallon water
- 3 pounds sugar
- 1 packet wine yeast
- Soak the raisins in enough water to cover overnight, then chop them, with the water, in a blender. Chop the lemons and limes, including the peel. Combine the raisins, lemons, limes, lemon basil, and lime basil in the fermentation vessel.
- Bring the water to a boil in a large pot. Add the sugar and bring back to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the boiling sugar water to the mixture in the fermentation vessel. Cover and let cool.
- Stir in the yeast and cover. Stir twice a day until fermentation slows, 7 to 10 days.
- Press out the pulp, pour the wine into your secondary fermentation jug, and secure the fermentation lock. Check it the next day; if there is a deep layer of lees, rack and filter the wine. Rack again every 2 to 3 months.
- The wine should be ready to drink in 4 months. Let it age in the jug for as long as possible before bottling, at least 6 months to 1 year.
For more from Wild Winemaking visit:
Excerpted from Wild Winemaking © by Richard W. Bender. Used with permission from Storey Publishing.