Wild Blackberry Wine

Many older foraging books, and my childhood memories of the 1980’s, insist that blackberries are an autumnal fruit rarely seen before the end of August. These days if you wait until autumn to pick blackberries you will be disappointed. The changing climate now means an early August harvest.

Wild blackberry wine

Blackberry wine photography Roy Hunt

For most, the blackberry is the first (and often only) food that will be foraged. It is my hope that it will become as popular to ferment as it is to turn into a crumble, as Blackberry wine is one of the best homemade wines.

Blackberry wine has a robust, fruity flavour and bouquet, while slipping down a little too easily. And start one now and it will be more than ready for Christmas.

Brambles can be found on wasteground, parks, and in hedges. Picking the fruit is not without its hazards, and the thorns make plastic bags a no-go – one snag of your bag and a day’s pickings are lost to the hedgerow. Indeed, it is the thorns that give blackberries one of their country names, “lawyers”; once they trap you in it is very difficult to get loose.

Andy Hamilton picking blackberries

Andy Hamilton picking blackberries taken by Roy Hunt

Blackberries (or brambles) tend to take over wasteground if left unchecked. They can also be found on the edges of parks, in wooded thickets, by railway lines and cycle paths, at field edges and as undergrowth in forests.

BLACKBERRY WINE
2kg blackberries
Half cup of strong black tea
1.5kg sugar
4 litres water
Juice of one lemon
1 tsp pectolase
Red wine yeast
1 tsp yeast nutrient

To extract more juice from the fruit it helps if you keep the berries in the freezer overnight, then allow them to thaw before using. Ensure they are clean and place into a fermentation bin. Crush with your clean hands or a sterilized stainless steel/plastic potato masher. Pour over 1 litre of boiling water and the sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the further 2.5 litres of cold water then stir in the rest of the ingredients. Cover, and leave to stand in a warm place for 3 days.

Strain into a demijohn and attach the air lock. Rack after a month and allow to ferment out. Enjoy your blackberry wine with a blue cheesecake.

Andy Hamilton

Brewer, forager, broadcaster, spaceman occasional liar

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22 Responses

  1. Hi Andy – this recipe looks fantastic – how sweet do the blackcurrants need to be? There are lots of big juicy blackcurrants around me at the moment but they are still quite sour. Maybe give it another couple of weeks? Can’t wait to make this recipe (I’ve run out of sloe gin…)

    • Andy Hamilton says:

      Don’t worry too much as you are adding sugar which will make them sweet. Mind you depends on how strong (in alcohol) you want it to be, higher sugars mean more fermentables means more alcohol.

  2. Clive H says:

    It’s bubbling away nicely in the garage, and I’m posting only as I can’t find any other way of subscribing to the mailing list. But as I’m here, any chance of getting you to Alchemy Festival again?

  3. Jane Manby says:

    Wild plum, Cherry plums and Bullace make fantastic wine, Here is a link to how to identify them if that’s ok with you.

    http://www.squidoo.com/frugal-food-foraging-wild-plums-cherry-plums-and-bollaces

    I write a lot on foraging and would love to link to you in future if you get a good Bullace wine made
    Jane

  4. Darren says:

    Hi, My first attempt at blackberry wine having previously followed your elderflower wine recipe, I followed the above recipe exactly and racked into a 1 gallon demijohn after a month, since racking there has been no movement on the airlock, I have tasted the wine and it does not taste sweet, I even moved the demijohn to a warmer place for the last few days but still no movement. I have not taken a hydrometer reading yet but was wondering if I had a stuck ferment or it had finished fermenting? I know its all relative but how long roughly does it take to ferment out? My brew room maintains a temperature of about 20 degrees c.

    Any advice would be much appreciated for a fellow bristolian!

    • 20c is pretty warm for fermenting so could be that it is done did it taste good? You could give it a big shake wait a day or two and see if its starts again but yep could be done. There is no hard and fast rule to timing, I’ve had wines ready in a month and some that have taken a year. It’s why readings are taken. But as its only your second wine I’ll assume it will all get drunk rather too quickly to worry about exploding bottles anyway.

      If you are in Bristol then do come along to a brew workshop or a foraging walk next year, I’ll be putting some dates up soon.

  5. Darren says:

    Thanks for your help, much appreciated

    The hydrometer reading came back at 1.000. I had another taster this evening, it is surprisingly easy drinking! Im curious how good this could get with a couple of months in a dark cupboard!

    I am definitely interested in the brew workshop and foraging walk, I’l check back shortly

    I’m off to try Courgette and Sultana Wine, cheers!

  6. John Banks says:

    Thanks so much for this recipe. I bottled my wine a couple of days back and haven’t been able to stop sipping. It’s somewhere between a red wine and a port to my taste (which is a very good thing). I haven’t taken any alcohol measures but my guess is it’s around the 20% mark. Quite potent. I haven’t tried it yet, but I think 1 part Blackberry wine with 3 parts cold sparkling wine (such as Cava) would make a lovely “Kir Royale” esque summer cocktail.

    Straining it using a muslin into the demijohn worked a treat and it’s come out crystal clear.

    Thanks for such a tasty and simple recipe.

  7. Rob Coulson says:

    Hi Andy.

    I made this last year from the recipe in your book, yummy!

    This years batch started well but the fermentation slowed within a few days of being strained into the demijon (OG 1.085). After a month I racked as instructed and it’s really slowed down now- virtually no movement in the airlock. I’ve taken a reading and it’s hovering around 1.030, a stuck fermentation I suppose?

    I’m planning on raising the temperature a little, although as it’s already at 18C I’d have thought it’d be fine. Should I try oxygenating it? I’m just a bit worried about spoiling it!

    All the best, and loving the book!

    Rob

    • Keep it sealed though, I’d give it a shake then put it somewhere a little warmer up to about 21c or so. If it still doesn’t start then perhaps try adding a little more yeast, half a packet of red wine yeast.

  1. August 6, 2012

    RT @AndyRHamilton: Blackberries are out and they make one of the best country wines http://t.co/x8ttfkiE so get out, get picking and get p***ed!

  2. August 6, 2012

    RT @AndyRHamilton: Blackberries are out and they make one of the best country wines http://t.co/x8ttfkiE so get out, get picking and get p***ed!

  3. August 6, 2012

    RT @AndyRHamilton: Blackberries are out and they make one of the best country wines http://t.co/x8ttfkiE so get out, get picking and get p***ed!

  4. August 6, 2012

    MT @AndyRHamilton: Blackberries are out and they make one of the best country wines http://t.co/yQjpBu12 <- deffo tempted by this idea

  5. August 6, 2012

    RT @AndyRHamilton: It’s Blackberry wine time- http://t.co/x8ttfkiE One of the greatest wild wines there is!

  6. August 15, 2012

    […] foraging, with chestnut trees (if you beat the squirrels to is), sloes, elderberries, rosehips and blackberries […]

  7. November 15, 2013

    […] Hazelnut milk – see recipe 100ml Apple juice – see recipe 250g Blackberries, Plums or any other soft sweet fruit – bilberries, blueberries, grapes […]

  8. November 15, 2013

    […] kg Cooking apples 500g Blackberries 150g Sugar for the crumble and 50g for the fruit I use Muscovado. 250g Plain Flour 175g […]

  9. January 26, 2017

    […] This year I have been experimenting by using just what I can hold of and have come up with the recipe below. You can freeform a little if using, consider each ingredient as a suggestion rather than a hard a fast part of a whole. The main thing really is to get some kind of diversity in there and to keep adding the sugar until everything becomes balanced. Don’t fret too much about the wine either, I’ve even used wine that has been corked and the rest of the flavour mask it’s imperfection. But do consider using a bold fruity wine such as Malbec or Shiraz, elderberry or blackberry. […]

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