Tomato Wine Recipe

I sowed seeds that sprouted into seedlings. I transplanted the seedlings to beds. I fussed over the tomato plants. I planned. I harvested. Now, at last, I’m finally making tomato wine!

Ingredients

Juice from 18 lb (8.2 kg) tomatoes – about 1.67 gallons (6.3 liters)
4.84 lb (2.2 kg) sugar
2.5 quarts (2.4 liters) water
8 tsp (40 g) tartaric acid
2 tsp (10 g) diammonium phosphate
1 tsp (2.3 g) pectic enzyme
sulfite to 50 ppm (equivalent to two campden tablets)
premier cuvee yeast

Overview

Make a yeast starter and set it aside to grow. Juice the tomatoes and pour it into the fermenter. Dissolve the sugar in the water, boil, cool, and add to fermenter. Add sulfite, pectic enzyme, diammonium phosphate, and tartaric acid. Pitch the yeast starter when it is active.

Adjusting the sugar

I measured the pressed juice at:

Specific Gravity (SG): 1.024, pH: 4.23, Titratable Acidity (TA): 4 g/L

Based on those measurements, I decided to add 4.6 liters of SG 1.180 sugar syrup to the tomato juice. That’s 2.2 kg of sugar dissolved in 2.4 liters of water, and it ought to leave me with almost 11 liters of SG 1.090 juice. To determine how much sugar syrup to add in your own recipe, you can use this formula:

x = ( V * (TG – SG) ) / (1.180 – TG)

where x is the amount of sugar water, in liters, to add
V is the volume of must, in liters (6.3, in my case)
TG is your specific gravity target (1.090)
SG is the current specific gravity of your must (1.024)

The 1.180 is the SG of the sugar syrup (I was running out of variable names!)

Adjusting the acid

Once I adjusted the sugar, I knew what the final volume of the must was going to be, about 11 liters. Dry white wine musts are normally between 7 – 9 g/L TA, but I decided to aim a little low at 6 g/L. I wanted to add some acid to get the pH down, but not down so much that it would inhibit fermentation. It’s easy to add more later, and I expected to do just that. At any rate, I already had about 25 g (6.3 liters of juice at 4 g/L), and I was targeting 66 g (11 liters of must at 6 g/L), so I needed to add about 41 g. After the additions, I measured again:

SG: 1.104, pH: 3.02, TA: 6.5 g/L

My actual sugar and acid levels came out a little higher than I predicted, probably because my weight and volume measurements are imprecise – close enough. Now I’ve got a little under three gallons of sweet acidic tomato juice. I don’t know what tomato wine is going to taste like, but this juice is really odd. There is a strong flavor of tomato, which I like but is completely out of place in such a sweet juice. I hope the yeast like it, because I just pitched the starter.

Update 2/28/2008: Too much acid!

After fermentation, I measured the TA at 9-10 g/L. An error in my measurements might explain the apparent jump. I took two measurements just before pitching the yeast, however, and they were consistent with each other. I took two more measurements after it had fermented out, and they were both showed an increase of 2.5-3.5 g/L. I know that some acid forms during fermentation, but this much? I’m not sure what happened here, but I think the lesson is to wait until your wine is fermented out before you adjust your acid.



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8 thoughts on “Tomato Wine Recipe

  1. lebac

    how’d it taste? and what if anything would you cook/eat with it? and would you recomned me trying to make it in a (beer) home brew? and try putting it with sweet chilly sauce! I’ve made sweet chilly tomato jam and it’s great! (family recipe so can’t tell!)

  2. Erroll Post author

    Hi lebac,

    It’s only been a month and a half since I pitched the yeast, and I usually don’t bottle my wines until they’ve aged for about a year. I did taste the wine at it’s first racking, and it tastes like too young. Nobody is more impatient than I am to see how this turns out and what it tastes like, but you’ll have to wait along with me to find out! I’ll be posting updates as I rack the wine and it matures. You may want to subscribe so that you get each article as it’s published without having to check back all the time.

    In the meantime, why don’t you tell me about that sweet chili tomato jam? I have no idea how it would taste, but now I really want to try some.

    Erroll

  3. MissJ

    I made tomato wine in 2007, from tomatoes I grew in my own garden. I used Jack Keller’s instructions. It turned out just like a dry white wine in both looks and taste, but with a slight tomato finish. I took it to my winemaking club meeting this August and had people guess what it was made from. All guessed white grapes! I planned to mostly use it for cooking, so bottled it in 187 ml. bottles.

  4. Tod Loughrige

    I consider myself fairly schooled at tomato wine making. I grow my own tomatoes and make tomato wine every year. It is my favorite wine of the several different wines I have attempted, and my best advice to you is to keep good records of all your “batches” and experiment until you find your “BEST”. I started out making several 1 gal. batches, adjusted sugar, pH, and just about every little varience I could. I now have three 5 or 6 gal. carboys going! I prefer a high alcohol content, and I consistantly obtain 21 – 22% using Lalvin K1-V111 yeast, about 6 lbs. tomato per gal, and alot of sugar… enough to bring the S.G. up to 1.160 before fermentation. I realize this is high, but it ALWAYS becomes a very dry (.990 or lower) in time. Try it out!

  5. Erroll Post author

    Hello Tod,

    It sounds like you have figured out how to make tomato wine just the way you like it. I’m still tinkering, but I’ll keep your advice in mind next time I make some.

    Do you like all your wine to have such a high alcohol level? Or do you think tomato wine is better that way?

    Erroll

  6. Peter Farias

    I have just made a batch of tomato wine and it tastes promising.Maybe because I added well bruised ginger with the tomatoes.It reduces the tomato flavour.
    Peter

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