This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
We have lately had many inquiries in regard to making Currant wine. "One who has tried it" sends us the following, which we insert here, not being able to get it in its proper place. The receipt is a very good one, and if followed out will insure a good article of its kind, as we know from having tasted it. Our own method differs but little from it. If a sweet wine is desired, a little more sugar must be added, and the process of fermentation stopped before it is completed; but this we do not advise, In regard to adding spirits, the sugar will furnish enough of that; none should be added.
The currants should be fully ripe.
Have every thing prepared beforehand - all the currants picked and ready, as when one commences the process of making the wine be has no time to look about for materials of any kind. The work must be done speedily, and with cleanliness.
Have ready a small press, a tub, a pounder, a pan to receive the juice, a measure, a dipper, a funnel, and the vessel to receive and ferment the wine.
To make five gallons of wine, use twenty pounds currants, and nine pounds double refined loaf sugar, to be dissolved in some of the wine over the fire in a preserve kettle. To make a barrel of wine requires about 165 pounds currants. Sixteen pounds yield one gallon of juice in a press: two and a quarter pounds sugar to each gallon of wine, which consists of currant juice and water, as hereinafter described. This does not make a sweet or sirupy wine. If sweet wine is desired, it may be made at any time after the wine is fermented, by add-ing sugar to suit the taste. If more sugar is added than stated above, and well fermented, it adds strength and not sweetness to the wine. If the wine is not well fermented, it remains sweet, and is a sirup not wine.
Take twenty pounds currants; mash them well in the tub with a pounder; have ready a bag of light bagging; with a dipper put the pomace in the bag; lay this in the receiver, (mine is made of a half bushel measure fitted with a follower, with a wooden screw, such as is used on a carpenter's bench, but placed perpendicularly). The bag need not be tied, only doubled over in the receiver; then press gently at first, afterwards more severely; when the juice is all pressed out, strain and measure it I find it yields five quarts. Then take the pomace from the bag; place it in the tub, and pour on to it five quarts pure rain water, (hard water will not do;) pound it well, mixing with the water, and breaking such currants as did not get cracked before; then press as before. The yield will be something over five quarts. Take the same pomace from the bag; place it again in the tub; add five quarts pure rain water, (the rule is to add as much water each time as there was currant-juice obtained from the first pressing;) pound this well, and press; placing the wine each time in the fermenting vessel Having obtained all the liquid, let the vessels used be soaked in water, preparatory to cleaning.
Take some of the wine to dissolve the sugar, which should be in the proportion of two and a quarter pounds to each gallon of liquid thus obtained. For twenty pounds currants the sugar required is nine pounds. When the soger is dissolved, mix all together, and let it ferment in a moderately cool place. It is better that the fermentation should be slow; at first it will be rapid. The vessel should be full, and must not be closed tight, especially if it is a glass vassal The carbonic acid gas evolved will break any vessel if tighty closed. A small aperture may be left for its escape. I prefer the tube bung, letting the gas escape into a cup of water. I let it ferment about six weeks.
Sugar added to the wine increases its bulk or measure in the proportion of 12 lbs. to one gallon. In making a barrel of wine it is better to have a larger amount of currants on hand than a less quantity.
Alcohol barrels are often used for this purpose, but are not suitable. Alcohol barrels are prepared inside with glue, which is not dissolved by it, but wine will dissolve this glue, and becomes impregnated with its flavor. The best casks are those that have been used as wine barrels, with iron hoops, and may be bought for one dollar each. Wooden hoops in a cellar, after a year or so, burst off and cause leakage.
The wine, after fermentation, should be bunged up tightly and left to stand in a cool, dry place until it is clear, when it may be bottled if intended to be used within two years. When first made, and for two years, it is a bright ruby color. In three years this color is precipitated gradually, and the wine assumes a color resembling brown sherry. If kept in bottles until this deposit takes place, it is liable to be again mixed with the wine when the cork is drawn, and this makes it muddy. The Scriptural injunction, "Look not upon the wine when it is red," is especially applicable to currant wine. Tina wine carefully made will keep without the addition of spirits, and is worthy of any prince's banquet after it is old enough to precipitate its red color, and continues good, if well kept, for the next six years. Mr. Downing says, "Currant wine is very popular among farmers, but which we hope to see displaced by that afforded by - grapes." I advise to try this while we are cultivating the grapes, and then give us good grape wine too.