“Before you came Meereen was dying. Our rulers … sat atop their pyramids sipping apricot wine and talking of the glories of the Old Empire whilst the centuries slipped by and the very bricks of the city crumbled all around them. Custom and caution had an iron grip upon us till you awakened us with fire and blood. A new time has come, and new things are possible.” -A Dance with Dragons
For this recipe, I started with the oldest and simplest recipe I could find, from the 1690 Lucayos Cookbook. This recipe seems to rely on natural fermentation, so I was inclined to try it, and if it didn’t start on its own, to pitch yeast. I prepped the fruit, added everything else, and put it all in the primary fermenter. And then unexpectedly had to leave for the weekend.
When I got back a few days later, it was happily bubbling away, nature having run its course. I decided to let it go, and see what happened. When it was done working, I bottled it and let mine sit for two months. , and tried it at the end of that period. The wine is light and distinctly apricot flavored, with a bit of tartness provided by the lemongrass.
Keep in mind that natural fermentation can go all sorts of ways, since there’s no way to predict what sort of yeast you’ll get. The ABV is somewhere just under 3%, so it’s probably best kept for a few months, as the original recipe states. I’ve got a couple of smaller bottles, which I’ll periodically test out and report back on. I plan to make another batch, perhaps using dried apricots to increase the time of year in which it can be made.
The wine is best served chilled, and although it’s not especially dry, you may wish to add a bit of honey to sweeten it up.
Keep an eye out for the next, hopefully more stable recipe. 🙂
Apricot Wine Recipe
Prep: 20 minutes Fermenting: 3 weeks (ish)
Makes 1 Gallon
Take to 3 quarts of spring water if you intend to keep it, 3 lb. of loaf sugar. Let it boyle and as soon as the scum riseth take it off. Then if ye apricocks be small put two dozen to a quart, stone and pare ym, and let it boyle till it taste strong of the fruit, which done, let it run thro a sieve into an earthen pan. When it is cold well settled and clear, put it into bottles and stop them very well. It will be fitt to drink in a forenight and keep two months. -Lucayos Cookbook, 1690
Cook’s Notes: I started with this basic recipe, but added a few ingredients here and there to give it a more exotic feel.
Like the last time I added raisins (to the blood orange wine), this brew turned into a brewzilla while I was gone, bubbling up into the airlock, and eventually popping the stopper out completely before oozing over. This happened twice, thus the invaluable use of a bowl large enough to set the gallon jug in. If you have the equipment for it, a blow off tube is also a great solution to this problem.
1 lb apricots
- 8 cups water
- 2 inches organic ginger, sliced thin
- pinch of saffron
- 1 Tbs. chopped lemongrass
- yeast (optional)
- 1/4 cup raisins (3 oz.)
- 1-2 gallon glass jugs
- racking equipment
- large bowl
Slice the apricots into chunks, removing the pits. Place the fruit in a large saucepan with the 8 cups water, and simmer for at least 30 minutes, or until the fruit is mostly disintigrated. A longer simmer will result in a stronger fruit flavor. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
Strain out all the fruit, reserving the juicy liquid. Pour this into the gallon jug, followed by the other ingredients. You should leave a few inches of empty space for the bubbly foam that the combination of yeast and sugar-rich raisins will create (kreuzen). Depending on how much liquid simmered off, you may want to top up the level just a smidge. Settle the jug into a large bowl or pan, in case of overflow. Seal with an airlock, watch, and wait.
Allow the wine to ferment on its own. It should pick up some wild yeasts from either the raisins or the ginger. Keep an eye on the jug, as it will often bubble so fiercely that it overflows the airlock. Let it ferment until it seems to be done bubbling.
Rack the wine off the ginger and other particles into bottles with flip tops. Settle the flip tops over the mouth of the bottle, but don’t seal completely. Let it sit for another week, just to be on the safe side, then seal and store for 1-2 months.
5 Comments Add yours
I’m not a big fan of “natural” fermentation; I guess the scientist in me rebels at such chaos. What would be the best type of yeast to go in this brew? It seems like some kind of specialty wine yeast would be best, as a champagne yeast would really go nuts with this much sugar.
I don’t have enough experience yet to tell. I’ll ask the guys at the brew shop, too.
I’d agree that champagne yeast would probably be too robust for a recipe like this, and would cause the finished wine to be very dry. Something like a fruit wine yeast that’s designed to leave some residual sweetness would be good. In history, I think it probably would have been an ale yeast, but I’m curious to hear what your brew store guys suggest.
I typically prefer a sweeter wine. Would you suggest adding the honey after the brewing is done, to sweeten it up, or during the process? I’m not sure if it would mess up the yeast, but it would certainly reduce the number of steps 🙂 I’m hoping to use this as my first brewing project, so any help would be grand.
The potential problem with backsweetening (adding more sugar after the wine ferments) is that it can sometimes reactivate the yeast, and cause bottles to explode. (yikes!) I too prefer a sweeter wine, generally, and would really like to revisit this recipe in order to make it more scientific and predictable.
I’ll be posting a new cider recipe that is one of my top picks for my own brews, and very simple. It ends sweet, with some tartness from the apples, but is extremely flavorful, not to mention easy! Keep an eye out for that- it might be a better first project that this dodgy wine. 😉
Thanks for the head’s up about the exploding bottles. Not exactly something I’d like to wake up to. I think I’ll take your advice and try the cider: I’ve had some maple syrup sitting around just waiting for a suitable application.
Maybe I’ll try this later for my more sophisticated friends who like a drier wine 🙂