Pumpkin Wine Recipe For Halloween

How much pumpkin and acid?

This isn’t a common wine to make, even for a country wine, but I did find some recipes. Every single one of them agreed on using 5 lb/Gallon (600 g/L) of pumpkin, but they were very different in the amount of acid and sugar. I think it makes sense to use the 5 lb/Gallon of pumpkin, but aim for the acid and alcohol profile of a white wine. That means aiming for a specific gravity of 1.090 and a titratable acidity of 7-9 g/L. Adjusting the acidity will be pretty easy. After preparing the must, titrate a sample to get the TA, then add enough acid to bring it into the desired range. I can’t do the same thing with the sugar, though, because I’ll have to add so much of it. The 2-3 lb/Gallon (250 – 350 g/L) I expect to add, and the 2-3 cups/Gallon (125 – 200 ml/L) of water to dissolve it in, will increase the volume of must by 40 – 55%.

How much sugar?

That means I need to work backward from the total amount of sugar I want in the must. An SG of 1.090 implies 2 lb 6 oz of sugar per Gallon (284 g/L) of must. So if I knew how much sugar was in 5 lb of pumpkin flesh, I would subtract it from the total. How much sugar is in pumpkin flesh? On average about 4 – 6% by weight, so our 5 lb would contain about 3.2 – 4.8 oz (90 – 135 g) of sugar – lets call it 4 oz (110 g). Mashing the pumpkin will probably double that to 8 oz. That’s low enough that we could ignore the pumpkin’s contribution and still get pretty close, but now that we know let’s take that into account. For every gallon (3.785 L) of must, we’ll need 1 lb 14 oz (850 g) of sugar.

Putting it all together

In order to get a gallon of finished wine, I like to make my “1-gallon batches” anywhere between 1.25 and 1.5 gallons. You’ve heard of a “bakers dozen?” Think of this a the “winemaker’s gallon.” For 1.25 gallons (4.7 liters) of must, we’ll need 6.25 lb (2.8 kg) pumpkin flesh and 2 lb 6 oz (1075 grams) of sugar.

Ingredients

6.25 lb (2.8 kg) pumpkin flesh
2 lb 6 oz (1.075 kg) sugar
tartaric acid to 8 g/L
2 tsp (10 grams) DAP
0.25 tsp (0.6 grams) tannin
1.25 tsp amylase enzyme
1.25 tsp pectic enzyme
sulfite to 50 ppm (equivalent to 1 campden tablet)
Premier Cuvee yeast

Procedure

Remove the seeds from a pumpkin and peel it to get the flesh. Grate the flesh and bake at 350F (177C) for 30 minutes. Transfer to a pot and add amylase enzyme and enough water to cover. Heat to 150F (66C) and hold for 30 minutes.

While the pumpkin is baking/mashing, dissolve sugar in about a quart or a liter of water. Boil, then cool.

Strain the mash into your primary fermenter, add the sugar-water, then add cool enough water to bring it up to 1.25 gallons (4.7 liters). Add sulfite equivalent to one campden tablet.

When the must has cooled to about 70F (21C) or cooler, draw off a sample for testing. Measure the specific gravity (SG), the pH, and the titratable acidity (TA). Make a note of the SG.

Since we’re targeting a TA of 8 g/L, subtract the TA you measure from 8. Then multiply that number by the volume of must, in liters – 4.7 in this case. That will give you the amount of tartaric acid, in grams, to add to the must. There are about 5 grams of tartaric acid in a teaspoon, so you can divide the grams of tartaric acid by 5 to get the number of teaspoons. For example, if the TA is 2 g/L, then you would subtract 2 from 8 and get 6 g/L. Multiply this by 4.7L to get 28.2 g. Divide that by 5 g/tsp to get 5.64 teaspoons. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a “0.64 tsp” measuring spoon, so we can round that to 5.5 tsp.

Thoroughly dissolve the tartaric acid, pectic enzyme, tannin, and DAP in a little water and add it to the must. Measure and record the pH. The TA should be 8 g/L. Cover and wait three hours for the pectic enzyme to work, then pitch the yeast.

It’s a bit more involved than other wines, but now that you know how, don’t you want to pour some pumpkin wine on Halloween?



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32 thoughts on “Pumpkin Wine Recipe For Halloween

  1. Erroll Post author

    Hi Jesse,

    It was fun creating this recipe, and I was looking forward to making it. I got busy, though, and before I knew it Halloween came and went. After that, it went on the back burner. Maybe it’ll be a wine for next Halloween :)

    Erroll

  2. Shelby

    Halloween, heck. How about a Harry Potter party?
    Half Blood Prince is out on November 21…

  3. John

    I think you are a creative, interesting winemaker. I would very much like to know how your pumpkin wine comes out! I don’t have DAP, amylase enzyme, or a ph kit or acid kit. Do you think there is a way I could start this wine anyway (that is, leaving out those things) and still have decent wine in time for this Halloween (or next)? How would you do it given my equipment/ingredient shortcomings? Also, you speak often of a “bansai” vinyard and a “bansai” orchard in your possession. What is that? Got photos?

  4. Erroll Post author

    Hi John,

    I’ve heard of people fermenting pumpkin without mashing, so you can do without the amylase.

    It will be harder to get it right without TA and pH measurements, but it can be done. You will need to start with a small amount of acid, maybe one teaspoon, and then taste as the wine matures. Every time you rack, taste and make notes. If you think it needs more acid, add a little – no more than half a teaspoon . Don’t rush; expect to do this over the course of a year.

    Tasting like this wont work until after it has fermented out, because the sugar in the must will mask the acidity. Also, young wine might not be very palatable, but you’ll have to ignore that and just pick out how “tart” or how “flabby” the wine is. I made wine this way before I got an acid test kit, and I didn’t always get it right. It can be done, though.

    Without yeast nutrient, like DAP, you’ll be counting on whatever happens to be in the pumpkin flesh to sustain the yeast. If you go this rout, expect a slow and risky fermentation. If the fermentation sticks, it will be hard to diagnose and hard to get going again. I would strongly advise you to buy some nutrient. It’s easy to get by mail order and it’s not expensive.

    I like making my own wine, but I love making wine from something I grew myself. I live in the suburbs, though, without enough room for a vineyard or an orchard. I grow grape vines and fruit trees anyway, its just that I keep them in large pots (5-gallon buckets, actually). Since they are so vigorous, I need to trim the roots every year to keep them healthy. So, I treat them like bonsai plants, at least below the soil, and that’s why I call the whole collection my “bonsai vineyard” and “bonsai orchard.” I have pictures of individual vines and trees, but now that you mention it, I don’t think I’ve taken a photo of the whole “orchard” or “vineyard.”

    Maybe I’ll have to do that. Good luck with the pumpkin wine (do consider getting DAP)! I hope to make some myself.

    And thank you very much for the kind words. I’ve been a little overwhelmed lately, but I hope to make more wine and write about it soon.

    Erroll

  5. John

    Erroll,

    Thank you for the detailed response. I guess I just didn’t know that DAP and yeast nutrient are the same thing. I do have nutrient, so all I’m lacking is the ability to test for PH and TA. I think I will bravely dive in and give this pumpkin wine a try anyway. And thank you for your helpful advice. Good luck with your future endeavors!

    Sincerely,

    John Hance
    P.S. Where can I see pics of your “bosai” plants? Are they online? I saw some close-ups of grapes on your flikr acount, but I didn’t see the whole vine. I’ll go look again…

  6. Erroll Post author

    John,

    I’m excited for you, and I hope you’ll let me know how it turns out.

    Most of my grape vines are in five gallon buckets, but the Pinot Noir and the Swenson Red are in terracotta pots. Since they’ll look more presentable, I’ll go out and photograph them for you. I sometimes borrow a digital camera, but mainly shoot film. Once I’ve shot the roll, I’ll have it developed and scanned, then I’ll post the photos – bear with me!

    Erroll

  7. John

    Erroll,

    Don’t go out of your way for me. I’m just curious. I didn’t know you could successfully grow fruit trees in five gal buckets. Or grape vines, for that matter. Yeah; when you get around to shooting them I’d love to see them, but don’t put more on yourself for my curiosity’s sake.

    Thanks again. I will be sure to let you know how my pumpkin wine comes out.

    – John

  8. Erroll Post author

    Hello John,

    I’ve taken some photos of my Pinot Noir, and once I have that roll of film processed, I’ll post them to the blog. In the meantime this post on pruning shows one of my grape vines out of the pot as I trim the roots.

    I really would like to know how things go with the pumpkin wine!

    Erroll

  9. Sanford Graham

    I make it right in the pumpkin… it absorbs the pumpkin taste,but it quite sweet,and will sneak up on ya.Take out seed’s,add two lbs of suger,one packet of yeast,seal off as best you can,I use wax. let sitt till pumpkin starts too get really soft, poke a hole as low as you can too drain off, re drain if you want through a cheese cloth,or filter, chill and injoy.I do not sugest drinking if you have hi sugar !! Also do not drive

  10. John

    Right in the pumpkin, huh? That’s a wild idea. Would you call this “Pumpkin Pruno” (sorry, couldn’t resist)? I bet the boys in the big house would love to hear about this…

  11. Joe

    Sanford,
    Looks like the recipe the old timers called “Pumpkin Jack”
    I’ve yet to try it, but I have run across several variations of this using brown sugar, molasses, and raw sugar cane.

    Basically, 2lb sugar to 1 quart water. Core the pumpkin to remove the seeds (smaller hole is better). Fill the pumpkin with warm water (not boiling! should be hot to the touch) and allow to cool, add yeast (1 yeast tablet or packet per quart of water), stir, cap and seal with wax. Place on a board with a hole drilled in it appropriately positioned to poke the drain hole in the bottom when ready. Soft pumpkins do not like being moved/handled and the board helps a lot.

    Big pumpkin, big batch, small pumpkin, small batch. I was going to experiment this year, but like Errol posted, the time passed too quickly to grab a few pumpkins for this.

  12. Jennifer

    Joe,

    With your “Pumpkin Jack” recipe, about how long does it take from the day you do all the processing until the pumpkin is ready to be poked and drained? We have a pumpkin cooking contest every year at work, and I have never won first prize (hard though I work at it, and good though my baking is). I thought if I plied them with pumpkin alcohol I might be in with a better chance. ;D (As much as I’d love to learn to make proper wine, my schedule is too busy and I have too many classes to focus on learning anything else new at the same time.)

  13. Joe

    Jennifer,
    I haven’t ever tried making the pumpkin jack. I have read that you start with a fresh pumpkin and wait for it to get soft or for the wax seal to break. I would imagine that the longer it sits the better.

    Joe

  14. Joe

    I found a different recipe that is supposedly tried and true.
    One part sugar to two parts water boiled, mixed and then cooled so you can put your hand in it without burning. Open the pumpkin as you would to make a jack-o-lantern, but leave the guts inside. Fill with sugar water and cap (no yeast!). Set the top back in and shelf the pumpkin in a reasonably temperature stable area. I have mine sitting in the basement next to a summer squash filled with the same mixture.
    I’ll post in a week or two when they get soft and are ready to be drained!

  15. Alie

    Hi! My great-grandmother used to make wine. She made pumpkin wine once, and it went wrong. She said that you have to store it in a cool, dark place. So she put it in the closet, and it leaked into the basement. I didn’t see this part in the recipe. Can someone help me find out what she meant? What does it do to the wine?

    Thanks.

  16. Joe

    …leaked into the basement…
    Exactly that. The idea is to let the mix ferment in the pumpkin. The process makes the skin soften and eventually leak. If you don’t check often enough, you would have a mess like your Grandmother did.

    FWIW, mine didn’t turn out so good, but hey… It was only the first attempt.

  17. Evelyn

    ok 1 week ago I took out the seeds but not all the stringy stuff and since it was a fairly good sized pumpkin was 10 cups of sugar brought to boil in 20 cups of water left to cool and then put in the pumpkin and left in a fairly temperate place .
    So at this time the top is caving down a bit , the sides are fairly firm but there is a bit of mold on the lid part.
    Do ! need to be conserned about the mold ? And is this progressing at the right speed ? About how long will it take to finish and is there anything else that needs to be done other than to strain it? It is sitting over a board with a hold in it placed over a bucket. Thx for any help!!

  18. Erroll Post author

    Hi Evelyn,

    It sounds like you’re fermenting “in the pumpkin.” I’m assuming you added yeast a week ago, and it’s been fermenting. Is that right? Yes, I would be concerned about the mold. Discard any moldy sections right away and strain the rest. Did you add sulfite? If not add some after you strain.

    Good luck, and keep me posted!
    Erroll

  19. Evelyn

    Since I had a pumpkin but didn’t have yeast other than for making bread and no sulfites either I was trying Joes recipe so the answer to that would be no.
    So if I remove the mold the top will not fit . Can I cover it with a towel ?

  20. Evelyn

    After re-reading I see i don’t need to worry about towel as I will be straining Ok thank you!

  21. Evelyn

    thx Errol ,
    I hope you don’t get this twice as the computer went out as I was writting,
    Ok I’ve strained and drained. Its very clear light and sweet but very yeasty tasting , When I went in to drain it the lid had fallen into the pumpkin so rather than try to pull it out we just started the drain. It’s quite deceptive as it looks firm but as we cut the sides of the punmpkin down they were very soft mush actually . As we got closer to the bottom it was firmer . There was white mold on the lid and abit around the top kind of like a jack o lantern after it has sit a bit and on one side inside it has a dark stringy mold from the water line to the lid . Not a whole lot and it didn’t get in the liquid .
    Tried to strain it with a coffee filter but ended up using a cotton floursack type towel.
    Ok what does sulfite do and where do i get it? Grocery store ? Drug store? Walmart?
    Again thx for time and advice .

  22. Erroll Post author

    Hi Evelyn,

    Sulfite protects fermenting wine from little nasties like mold, fungi and so forth. It also protects finished wine from oxidation. You can buy it as a powder or in tablet form. The tablets, called “Campden Tablets,” are hard to dissolve so I prefer the powder. On the other hand, the tablets are pre-measured. Either way, it’s available from homebrew shops or online from places like Presque Isle, Mountain Homebrew, and others.

    It looks like you did a good job keeping the mold out. Add sulfite and let the wine ferment out under an airlock.

    Erroll

  23. Jared

    Hi, these wine recipes all look good to try, thinking of trying the inside the pumpkin method, any suggestions?

  24. Gary Major

    Made some last year. Added raisins and lemon to get acid level right. After about 6 months it turned out great. Had a spark-lite to it like champagne. I am going to make more in October.

  25. Kathleen

    Hey Erroll,
    I was looking around for a recipe because I have an overabundance of delicious Davids Dakota Dessert squash. Not only have I learned about Pumpkin Jack (which I think I will try too!), but I got a wonderful lesson in balancing acidity. I’m a new winemaker & haven’t tried doing that yet but now I get it! And will do it!
    MY question involves the pulp itself. By using the amylase enzyme & heating in this way does that liquify the pulp so you ONLY add the liquid to the primary as I understand it? I recently struggled with getting all the good juice out of a big strainer bag of kiwi pulp – 20 lbs in a 6 gal primary – and am trying to figure out a clean way to do this. I lost a gallon in volume. Other recipes call for adding the grated vegetable into the strainer & putting that in the primary as I am used to doing.
    If I could ONE more question since you’re so smart about the science. Adding raisins. How does that effect sugar & tannin levels?

  26. Erroll Post author

    MY question involves the pulp itself. By using the amylase enzyme & heating in this way does that liquify the pulp so you ONLY add the liquid to the primary as I understand it?

    Hi Kathleen,

    In this recipe you strain out the pulp and only add the liquid. Some recipes ferment on the pulp and there are pros and cons of both approaches. By separating out the solids early, you can measure the true liquid volume better and you’ll have less trouble clearing the wine later on.

    I don’t think I can tell you much more about raisins than you already know – they’ll add tannin and sugar! But it’s not a controlled way of adding them, so it’s hard to say how much. They’ll also add some flavor, and make it taste a little sherry-like (oxidized).

    Erroll

  27. Kathleen

    Hey Erroll,
    I made this last year and it has been the strangest learning experience ever. 1st it foamed up so much in the primary I had the kitchen covered in towels for days & kept having to clear the air lock. A bright orange volcano! When I racked it to the secondary it had the oddest mucilaginous texture, like orange snot. Well, I figured I’d stick with it, racked it again a couple of months later – still thick & mucous-like. I’ve bade several different kinds of wines & never encountered these problems! Been busy and honestly afraid to look again at it but will need that carboy soon for something else. If it hasn’t resolved I’m going to have to feed it to the neighbor’s pigs I guess! What happened Man?

  28. Erroll Post author

    Hi Kathleen,

    It sounds like this one didn’t turn out – I’m sorry to hear that.

    Some infections can make the wine thick. Ropiness, for example, is a rare kind of bacterial infection. Wikipedia describes it as, “an increase in viscosity and a slimey or fatty mouthfeel.” Jack Keller says it gives the wine an “oily look with rope-like treads or strings appearing within it. It pours slowly and thickly with a consistency similar to egg whites.”

    Without seeing (and smelling and tasting) your wine, I can’t say for sure. But my money is on some kind of infection.

    Erroll

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