Making another batch of rhubarb wine this year, but doing it without the steam juicer. I found that the steam juicer tends to give a “cooked” flavor to the wines I made with it, so I am going to stop using it this year and see if I end up with better quality wine. In order to get the juice out of the rhubarb I will instead do a freeze/thaw and sugar extraction. I am following the juicing method used by Erroll at WashingtonWinemaker.com but will otherwise use the same recipe I did last year. I am also going to make a 3 gallon batch instead of a 2 gallon batch, as I liked the tart wine that last year’s recipe produced.
Gathered and washed 9 pounds of fresh rhubarb. I then cut the rhubarb into half-inch pieces and put them in the freezer to break down the cells a bit.
A few days later I pulled out the rhubarb and put it in a straining bag, and hung that inside a bucket so that there was room for the liquid to collect at the bottom as the rhubarb thawed. Thawing took about 24 hours since it was basically a 9 pound block of frozen rhubarb hanging in the bucket. After the rhubarb had thawed I had collected roughly 3 quarts of juice (after straining and squeezing the rhubarb). I added 2 crushed Campden tablets to the liquid and sealed the bucket up with an airlock to be used later.
I placed the thawed rhubarb into a separate bucket. I covered it with 3 pounds of sugar for the sugar extraction process. I let it sit for 3 days until all the sugar has dissolved and the juices had been extracted from the rhubarb, which gave me about one quart of juice. I then strained and squeezed this rhubarb into my bucket of juice I collected during the thawing process. I then rinsed the squeezed rhubarb with one pint of water to wash off some of the sugar still on it. I put the rhubarb back into its separate bucket and added enough water to cover it (about 3 quarts). I let this water sit for about 4 hours to get the last bit of rhubarb flavor out of the pulp, and then strained this rhubarb water into my juice bucket, squeezing the rhubarb once more to get as much as I could out of it.
When this was all done I had collected about 7 quarts of juice in my bucket. I topped it up to 3 gallons and measured the OG, which was 1.040. I added 4 and a half pounds of sugar and got the OG up to 1.088, close enough to my target of 1.090. I then added the yeast nutrient, the pectic enzyme, and the yeast, sealed the bucket with an airlock, and set it aside for primary fermentation. I used Lavlin 71-B yeast instead of my usual Cote des Blancs because I read that the 71-B may consume a bit of the natural acid present in the rhubarb and make for a slightly less acidic final product.
6-1-11: Put into primary bucket. OG measured at 1.088, giving it an alcohol potential of 12.25 %ABV.
6-3-11: Fermentation started slow, barely bubbling on the second day. Today it has kicked up a notch and the airlock is going steady.
6-10: Racked to 3 secondary 1-gallon carboys. FG measured at 0.998 giving it a srength of 12.53 %ABV. TA measured at 0.65%.
12-17-10: Bottled into 31 12-ounce bottles.