Making Strong Wine and Sparkling Wine at Home
When you want to make a strong aperitif or dessert wine, begin with the same quantity of sugar as for a table wine but use extra fruit to provide the extra body and flavour.
When the gravity of the fermenting must falls to say 1.006, add a sufficient quantity of sugar to raise the gravity to about 1.016. When that has also been reduced to 1.006, add another quantity of sugar and so on until fermentation ceases because the yeast is inhibited by the high quantity of alcohol formed. Some strains of yeast are more tolerant to alcohol than others, notably Tokay, Madeira and Sherry.
To make a strong dry wine the gravity should be allowed lo fall as low as 1.000 after the second or third dose of additional sugar and only very small quantities added at a time, so that the wine does not finish sweet. A strong wine can always be sweetened after fermentation since the alcohol will prevent any further fermentation.
Start off with the intention of making a sparkling wine. Use green gooseberries, apples or pears together with some sultanas or concentrated while grape juice. A champagne yeast is important and the total gravity of the must should not exceed 1.084. Ferment the must out to dryness, rack and store for six months in the jar, then stir in 70g/2-½ oz sugar per 4.5 litres/1 gallon and another champagne yeast. This quantity of sugar is critical. If more is added the wine will gush out when the bottle is opened. If less is added the wine will not sparkle properly.
Fit an airlock and move the jar to a warm place for a few hours. As soon as fermentation starts. Siphon the wine into sterilized champagne bottles, leaving about 50 mm/2 inches of head room above the wine. Fit sterilized hollow-domed, plastic stoppers that have been softened in hot water and fasten them down with wire cages. Lay the bottles on their sides in a warm room for five days and then in a cool store for at least six months.
To remove the sediment, stand the bottles upside down in a carton for three or four weeks, each day giving them a little shake and knock to encourage the sediment to slick- clown the side of the bottle into the dome of the stopper.
When this has been clone, stand the neck of each bottle in turn in a jug of crushed ice and cooking-salt. After 8 or 10 minutes the wine in the stopper will be frozen and the sediment with it. Stand the bottle upright, remove die cage and stopper, add one saccharin pellit and quickly push home a sterilized and softened stopper. Re-wire the cage and the bottle is ready for serving at any time. It helps to chill the wine very hard before this process begins, but keep the bottles upside clown. With just a little practice this becomes a simple routine.