Two years ago I set out to make wine from cherries the way you would make red wine from grapes. I bought 43 lb (19.5 kg) of Bing Cherries from Safeway, put them in a large picnic cooler, and crushed them the old fashioned way. Adjusting the sugar was a little tedious, but I was off to a great start. It turns out that the acidity of cherry wine is tough to get right, though, and in the end I sweetened it to balance tart tasting wine.
About the label
LouGarou is a talented photographer, and he was kind enough to let me use his photo in my wine label. He’s taken many exceptional shots, but the warm tones in this one made it just the thing for my label – thanks Lou!
I labeled it “Sweet Cherry,” and included alcohol content, TA, pH, and final gravity. Instead of a vintage (not too many people are going to be raving about “Safeway’s 2007 Bing Cherries”) I put a date range. The first date is the day I started and the end date is the day I bottled. You’ll know how long it bulk aged, how long it’s had in the bottle, and yes, when the cherries were grown – that date range says a lot without saying a lot.
How does the cherry wine taste?
I think I managed to balance the wine. The acidity is noticable, but it’s lively and not too tart. Sweetness is there too, but people who “don’t like sweet wine” liked it and didn’t think it was too sweet. I don’t notice the astringency that comes from tannin. This makes it an enjoyable red table wine, but unlike the dry reds that I’m used to. The flavor and aroma are different as well. I wouldn’t say it “tastes like cherries,” but there is something familiar from tasting commercial cherry wine (yes, there is such a thing).
Thoughts on my next cherry wine
This was a learning experience, and I’ve got a to-do list for the next one.
- Use a yeast like Lavlin’s 71-B that consumes malic acid: since most of the acid in cherries is malic and I had trouble with too much acid, having the yeast remove some for me should make things easier.
- Learn more about dealing with high titratable acidity (TA) and high pH at the same time: I’ve been reluctant to use phosphoric acid to adjust the pH because it can be dangerous to handle. Maybe I need to get comfortable with that or find another way to manipulate the different facets of acidity.
- Learn more about cherries: This is my second batch of cherry wine, and both batches had the high TA – high pH problem. Is it something about the variety of cherry (I used Bing each time)? how it’s grown? or are all cherries like that? I sense another know your ingredients post coming up.
Until then I’ll be enjoying my newly bottled cherry wine – cheers!