“The queen took a flagon of sweet plum wine from a passing serving girl and filled Sansa’s cup. ‘Drink,’ she commanded coldly. ‘Perhaps it will give you the courage to deal with truth for a change.’” –A Clash of Kings
Usually I wait with brewing recipes, but it’s just the tail end of plum season, so I wanted to give you all the chance to brew some yourselves. The next post will be back to food, I promise. 🙂
This is an unusual fruit wine, to say the least. It starts with a raisin wine base, to which the plum juice is added. But really, THAT COLOR! The purple from the plum skins did a lot for the color, but the addition of hibiscus is what really tipped it over the edge into that gorgeous, almost grapefruity hue.
In terms of process, there are some things I might do differently. First off, juice the plums. I’m not sure if that would lose some of the purple from the skins, but it would certainly uncomplicate things a bit. I’d probably put the hibiscus in earlier, along with the plums, to get maximum flavor and color. All in all though, a fun historical romp.
A few days after bottling, it has an intense, fruity flavor, but the wine on the whole is still a bit rough and a bit yeasty, but since I stopped the fermentation before all of the sugars were eaten up, it still has a nice, round sweetness to it.
At the 3 month mark, it’s settled to a beautiful, clear pink color. It smells of spice and fruit, leaving one new taster describing it as a combination of raisins and French toast. We served it chilled, and it was crisp, clean, and ideal for summer evenings. It would also give mimosas some fantastic competition as an accompaniment to Belgian waffles with strawberries.
I’ll keep tasting it at intervals, and let you know how it ages. Personally, I’ll be fascinated to see how it tastes at the recommended 4-5 month mark!
Plum Wine Recipe
“Take twenty pounds of Malaga raisins, pick, rub, and shred them, and put them into a tub. Then take four gallons of water, boil it an hour, and let it stand till it be no more than milk-warm. Then put in your raisins, and let it stand nine or ten days, stirring it once or twice each day. Strain out your liquor, and mix with two quarts of damson juice. Put it into a vessel, and when it has done working, stop it up close. Let it stand four or five months, and then bottle it.” -London Art of Cookery, 1800
Makes: about 2/3 gallon Initial Fermentation: 1 week Ageing: 4-5 months, ideally
Cook’s Notes: You will probably have to use a blow-off tube at the beginning, instead of an airlock, as the chopped raisins and plums produce a veritable brewzilla. 🙂
- 2 lb. raisins, roughly chopped
- 1/2 gallon water
- 1 packet Cote de Blancs yeast
- 3 lb. plum puree
- 1 Tbs. hibiscus flowers
- 1 tsp. mahlep
- 1 Campden Tablet (to stop fermentation)
- 1 gallon carboy (a second one is helpful)
- blow-off tube
- hydrometer (to measure the sugar content, determine % alcohol)
Combine your chopped raisins with 1/2 gallon water and the yeast. It will go crazy, so keep an eye on it, and set it in a bowl to catch any overflow. Once it’s done going mad, you can switch back to a regular airlock. Allow to sit for around 5 days, or until the airlock has just stopped bubbling. Strain out the raisins, pouring the wine into a cleaned carboy.
Add the pureed plums, then recap and allow to sit for two days. You may want to tweak this stage, depending on whether you’d prefer a more dry or sweet wine. When you’re ready, strain into a clean carboy, pressing out as much liquid as possible from the pulp.
Add hibiscus and mahleb, and allow to sit for one more day. Then add a crushed campden tablet to stop fermentation, and stick in the fridge for a day or so to ensure the yeasts are all done with their nonsense.
Rack into bottles, allow to age, and enjoy!