Accidentally Cooking

Documenting my mistakes in the garden, kitchen and pantry


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Honey Apple Wine

Terminology in the realm of homebrew fruit wines starts to get real complicated real quick. My most recent project is a perfect example of this. Fermented apple cider is typically called cider, though if you get the alcohol content high enough and you don’t carbonate it, the result is probably more accurate to call apple wine. Honey wine is, of course, mead. If you mix apple cider with honey and ferment it, the result is typically called cyser, though the more general term for a fruit-flavored mead is melomel.

The word “cyser” seems to me like a play on the word “cider”. So if I were making something like a cider, but used honey instead of ordinary sugar I would certainly call it a cyser. However, I pushed the starting gravity all the way up to 1.100, which is going to yield something closer to wine strength (and hopefully with plenty of residual sweetness). Since the end result I’m aiming for is not  “cider-like”, it seems funny to me to call it a “cyser”.

The name “Apple Melomel” seems like it might be a good choice, but I feel like that obscures the situation: Apple is the star of the show, highlighted with the flavor of honey. This is basically the same thing as my Caramel Apple Wine, if we replace the caramel syrup with honey instead. So, following that pattern, I’m going to call this one “Honey Apple Wine”.

Honey Apple Wine

  • Apple Cider
  • Honey [1]
  • Yeast [2]
  • Pectic Enzyme [3]
  • Yeast Nutrient

Add honey to the apple cider to bring the starting gravity to 1.100 [4]. Bring to a boil in a large pot to sterilize. Skim off foam, which can contain leftover wax and other waste products. Mix in pectic enzyme. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature (at least 1 hour).

Pitch yeast as instructed and add yeast nutrient. Move the mixture to the primary container, attach air lock. Rack to secondary when fermentation has stopped or slowed significantly.

DSC_4001

 

On the left of this picture is my Caramel Apple Wine, which is a much darker, redder color and is slowly starting to clarify.

Notes

  1. I used a local clover honey.
  2. I went to the brew store looking for White Labs WLP-775 “English Cider” yeast. That was out of stock, so I picked up a packet of “Cider House Select” yeast, which seems specialized for cider but for which I can’t find any information online.
  3. This is the first batch I’ve made with pectic enzyme. I didn’t see any obvious change at pitch, but I’m expecting some improvements later to clarity.
  4. I added 2 cups of honey to the cider, boiled it, cooled it, and took a gravity reading. The intention was to use white sugar to bump up to 1.100. However, when I took the reading I was at 1.100 almost exactly, so I left it as is. It was a happy accident, but I wasn’t expecting the SG to go so high on only 2 cups of honey.
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Caramel Apple Wine

I’ve been making a bunch of fruit wines this year, but most of those are just ways for me to kill time. What I’m really excited about making is hard apple cider and apple wine, and I have a few jugs available to make several batches. I have a gallon batch of apple wine going right now, and am planning another gallon batch of hard cider soon. Whats left are my two half-gallon jugs, which are the perfect size for things which are a little bit more experimental. For the first one I decided to create a batch of Caramel Apple Wine. This recipe is for a half-gallon batch. Scaling it up should be pretty straight-forward to a point. Too much sugar in the pot will be hard to caramelize. You might need to work in batches.

The regular subscriber (and I suspect there is only one) will notice that this recipe has been heavily influenced by the Caramel Apple Jam recipe I posted a while back, and which has been a household favorite since I first made it.

Caramel Apple Wine

  • Apple Cider
  • White Sugar
  • 1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Yeast: Cotes des Blancs
  • Starting Gravity: 1.104
  • Yeast Nutrient

Add 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water to a high-walled stockpot. Cook over medium heat, stirring only if necessary, until the sugar turns a deep brown. Add in 4 cups of apple cider and stir until all the caramelized sugar is dissolved. I didn’t let the cider come to a boil, but I don’t think it will hurt too much if you do.

Add the caramel cider and another 4 cups of cider (8 cups total) to a mixing bucket. Add enough sugar to bring the gravity up to 1.100 (for me, it was another cup). Add in vanilla extract to taste (my home-made extract is less strong than most store-bought varieties, so you may want to start smaller. A subtle vanilla flavor to compliment the caramel is all I wanted).  Funnel the must into a sterilized half-gallon jug. If there is any left over, save it for topping off after the trip to secondary.

I added 1/2 Tsp of the yeast nutrient up front. I have been using a staggered feeding schedule for some of my other brews, but for this one I added all the nutrient up front.

Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature before pitching the yeast.

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 First Test

I stole my customary taste-test during the rack to secondary. The wine definitely tastes of caramel apple, though the caramel flavor is not as strong as I expected. I’ll probably do a lot of second-guessing about both the amount of caramelized sugar I used and also the amount it was caramelized. Did I let it get dark enough, or did I panic and take it off the heat too soon? Did I just not make enough?

In a few months when it’s good and ready I’ll taste it again with a definite eye towards making sure the caramel flavor is properly balanced. Maybe it will pop out more when the mixture mellows out after aging.