We were introduced to the simplicity and deliciousness of country wine making by Sandor Katz, a fermentation revivalist who we enticed to Australia some years back to get more folks excited about DIY fermentation. (It worked!)
Country wine is made using just fresh fruit, water and wild fermentation. And a bit of sugar or honey to boost things along, if you like. The fermentation comes from the wild yeasts on the surface of the fruit, and also from the honey, if you use it.
Put the uncapped jar on the kitchen bench and cover with a cloth to keep out bugs. Stir multiple times a day to submerge the fruit.
After a few days (depending on variables like the temperature of your kitchen and the natural yeasts on your fruit), the liquid will start to bubble. Wait until the bubbling has peaked and begun to subside (but hasn’t disappeared entirely). This stage will take somewhere between a day and a few days, depending on the brew. Remove the fruit (which will be strangely tasteless), pour the wine into bottles, refrigerate and enjoy. The finished brew will be mildly alcoholic,
sweet and delicious.
If you want to ferment the wine further, transfer it to a vessel with an airlock. The flavours will mellow and the alcohol content will increase slightly over time.
Stirring multiple times a day is central to the success of this ferment. Every time you stir, you are doing a number of things: drowning any moulds that might be starting to grow on the surface, adding air to the brew and agitating the overall ferment (in a good way).
Wild fermentation can be highly variable according to the type of fruit used, its inherent sugars and the wildness of the yeasts – so taste as you go and watch closely! If the fermentation goes too far, you will have a sour blackberry vinegar/shrub on your hands, which is still delicious and useful. As with any home ferment, if it doesn’t smell or taste good, compost it.
If you use honey for this brew, you are technically making a fruit mead or ‘melomel’, which makes the whole situation even better, in our opinion. Cheers!