Peppercorn Wine

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About: Seeker of new inspiration, fearless adventurer, boldly making my happy :)

I started making wines in 2017. I love experimenting with flavor combinations and various aging techniques. Every step in the process can influence the final product. It’s fascinating, challenging, relaxing and fun all at the same time. My hobby has grown into my passion.

One of my favorites is a pink peppercorn wine that I created. You may be thinking, “spicy wine – gross!” Stick with me, the final product is worth it. The flavor of the wine is a well-balanced combination of passionfruit and peppercorn. You get the exotic taste of passionfruit brought to life by spicy notes from the peppercorns. It’s perfection in a bottle.

This will yield approx. 23 (750ml) bottles.

Fun Fact!

Pink Peppercorns are a dried berry. They are named for their spicy peppery taste and resemblance to other peppercorns. They are related to cashews so anyone with nut allergies should use caution.

Supplies:

If you are just getting started in winemaking you can pick up a beginner's equipment kit . I purchased one from Amazon that gave me a great start.

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Step 1: Getting Started

Your first step is really just mixing up the liquid and adding the yeast. It's easy but you need to ensure that your equipment is sanitized.

Sanitize the following:

  • 7.8 Gallon Fermenter and Grommeted Lid
  • Large Plastic Spoon
  • Hydrometer
  • Airlock
  1. Place 3.5 gallons of water into the fermenter and add the 1-gallon mixture of Passionfruit wine base. The instructions on the wine base will say to add 4 gallons of water, do not do this. You will add the remaining ½ gallon at a later stage as part of your peppercorn infusion. Mix with a large plastic spoon.
  2. Drop the hydrometer into the mixture and take your first reading. You read the line where the hydrometer first pokes out of the wine mixture. For this wine, my beginning reading is typically 12%.
  3. Sprinkle the packet of Lalvin D47 on the surface of the mixture, do not stir. I do not rehydrate the yeast before adding it.
  4. Secure the lid and place the airlock into the grommet. Place the fermenter in a stabilized temperature zone and allow it to sit undisturbed. I usually place mine in the garage, the temp stays around 78 degrees.

Over the next 2 weeks, resist the urge to open the fermenter. You will begin to see the airlock bubbling. This is the sign of a successful fermentation. During this time the yeast will feed on the sugars and the dead yeast will drop to the bottom of the fermenter. Therefore leaving the fermenter undisturbed is important. You do not want to mix the sediment back into the wine.


TIP: Sanitizing

Sanitizing your equipment is an easy but important step. Mix the sanitizer according to the instructions on the package (I use B-Brite) and ensure that it washes over each part of the equipment. Do not dry the equipment, you risk negating the sanitization. I prefer to mix the sanitizer in my fermentation bucket and use that to sanitize all of the other components first. I sanitize the fermentation bucket last.

Step 2: The First Rack

Racking is the process of transferring the wine from one vessel into another. You will want to perform the first rack two weeks after starting your wine.

Sanitize the following:

  • Glass carboy or a 2nd fermentation bucket
  • Carboy Bung (if using a carboy)
  • Siphon Pump
  • Siphon Hose
  1. Before racking the wine, take a reading with your hydrometer to check the progression of your fermentation. At this stage, I typically have a reading of 1.05. Feel free to taste your wine, but do not be alarmed by the taste. It will be very tart and that is ok. It is still very young and in the fermentation process.
  2. Transfer the fermenter containing your wine to a counter height surface and remove the lid. Place the carboy on the floor and using the siphon begin transferring the wine. Do not allow the siphon to rest on the bottom of the fermenter. As the wine nears the bottom of the fermenter, carefully lower the siphon to avoid transferring any of the sediment.
  3. At this stage, you will also add the peppercorn mixture. Boil 2 cups of Pink Peppercorns in 2 qts of water. Allow to boil for 8-12 minutes, remove from heat and allow the peppercorns too steep in the water while it cools to room temperature. Once cool, strain out the peppercorns leaving only the peppercorn water.
  4. Add the peppercorn water to your wine (do this after racking to avoid stirring up the sediment).
  5. Add 5 Tsp of Yeast Nutrient


TIP: 2nd Fermenter

I love the glass carboy because it allows me to watch the fermentation and settling process. However, it can be easier to work with a second fermentation bucket rather than a carboy. It's a personal choice.

Step 3: Additional Racking & Aging

30 day Check

  • Start your 30-day check with a hydrometer reading.
  • My reading is usually not in the “wine zone”, at this point. I feed the yeast by adding 2 cups of granulated sugar and allow it to keep fermenting. I do not rack when I add the sugar. I take another reading at 45 days and am always in the “wine zone” I rack at this point.
  • If your reading is in the “wine zone” you can sanitize your equipment and perform a second racking.

Wine Zone

  • Once you reach the “wine zone” you have a few steps and a few options.
  • Crush and add the Campden tablets. This prevents wild yeast and bacteria growth.
  • (Optional) If you feel that you have significant sediment remaining, you can continue to rack. I find that 2-3 racks are enough to clear the wine.
  • You can now focus on allowing your wine to sit undisturbed and age. I allow my wine to sit in the fermenter for at least 6 more months before opening the vessel and contemplating the bottling phase. Wine is a waiting game, so wait...and then wait some more.

TIP: Calculating the Alcohol Content

You can find numerous guidance articles on how to calculate the alcohol content. Your hydrometer will also come with instructions. The most important thing to remember is that you need to record the original gravity during the mixing stage, as also the final gravity at this stage.

Step 4: Sweetening (Optional)

Everyone has a different preference when it comes to sweetness. If you feel the need to sweeten the wine, now is the time. You need to use a non-fermenting sugar to do this or you will restart the fermentation process. I have never added a sweetener to this wine. I have back sweetened others and use this wine conditioner .

Step 5: Bottling

24 hours prior to bottling, I add potassium sorbate to the wine. This helps to prevent fermentation from starting again. I can tell you from experience that you do not want your bottles to begin fermenting and blow the corks.

Sanitize the following:

  • 2 dozen 750ml wine bottles
  • Bottle filler
  • Siphon Hose

You will also need corks and a corker for this step. I prefer natural corks over synthetic. I also made the leap to a floor corker and it changed my bottling life! It makes the process quick and easy.

I can never bottle on my own. I find it easier to do with a partner.

  1. Set your fermenter on a counter height surface. You will need gravity to help fill the bottles. I usually fill mine on the floor.
  2. Get the flow of your bottle filler started by attaching the hose to the bottle filler and filling the hose with water. Grab a small bowl that you can use to drain liquid into as you get started. Insert the tip of the bottle filler into the bowl and place the hose end into your wine. Press down on the filler and run into the bowl until you see wine coming out.
  3. Now you are ready to fill your bottles. Insert the filler into your bottle and allow the bottle to fill to the very top of the bottle. Once you remove the bottle filler, the wine level will drop giving you the perfect bottle amount.
  4. Fill all the bottles before moving onto corks.

The corking process will vary based on the corker that you select.

Step 6: Finishing Touches

I add two finishing touches to my bottles.

Shrink Caps

Label

There are several ways to seal shrink caps. I prefer to use a heat gun, it makes the process quick and easy. I also love the labels that I have been using, they are waterproof and peel off the bottles easily. Because I reuse my bottles, I find the easy-peel feature incredibly valuable.

Step 7: Suggested Pairing

This wine is very aromatic and has a bold but pleasing flavor. I enjoy it served with a charcuterie board that includes the addition of cheeses, red onion, and green apple. This complements the peppery flavor without competing with it.

Need Help?

I learned a lot during my winemaking adventure. I have corked more than 1000 bottles, made some vinegar along the way, and after spending an afternoon picking apples...I sadly pitched that wine attempt. I could not get the wild yeasts under control. (yes, these were the bottles that popped)

I am always happy to answer questions about the process and my experiences, just drop me a line!

Enjoy!

Spicy Challenge

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Spicy Challenge

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    5 Discussions

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    freddie555

    6 days ago on Introduction

    LOVE Pink Peppercorns! & Pinot Noirs from Washington & Oregon that have a nose of Rose' Peppercorns!!! I had to go grab some & add to my seared Turnips!

    1 reply
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    j-didfreddie555

    Reply 5 days ago

    Pink peppercorns make everything better! I instantly fall in love with wine that has peppery notes. LOVE a good Pinot, look for the 2014 Erath Oregon.

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    AnandM54

    9 days ago

    Wow looking toooooo spicy wine.....

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    jessyratfink

    11 days ago

    This is so awesome! I love peppercorns, and I can only imagine how good this is :D

    1 reply
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    j-didjessyratfink

    Reply 11 days ago

    Thanks! If you are ever in KY let me know, we will have a wine tasting :)