If you could bottle up the essence of summer, this strawberry wine might be what you taste. Dry, crisp and as refreshing as a glass of rosé, this nascent nectar ferments into a springy shade of pink and is packed with the flavor of sun-ripened strawberries.
In our search for the perfect recipe, we chatted with fermentation experts, including winemakers, our local homebrew shop and Sandor Katz, author of The Art of Fermentation, and we ended up with a formula that’s delicious and easy.
In a large stockpot over medium heat, combine 2¼ cups of granulated sugar with 7 cups of water, and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and cool until lukewarm.
Add 2 lbs. of fresh strawberries that have been hulled and quartered (the sweeter, the better), plus the juice and zest of 1 lemon. Gently mash with a potato masher. Cover the pot with a kitchen towel and let the berries sit for two days, mashing gently, once a day.
Strain the berries and funnel the liquid into a sterilized carboy.
In a measuring glass, sprinkle 1 gram of wine yeast (we used Lalvin K1-V116, but feel free to experiment with other fruit wine–friendly yeasts) over ½ oz. of lukewarm water and let it sit undisturbed for 2 minutes. Add ½ gram of the yeast nutrient to the yeast/water mixture and gently stir until mostly dissolved. Add to the carboy, making sure all of the yeast nutrient makes it into the brew. (Use an additional splash of water if needed.)
Cap the carboy with an airlock and a bung, and place it in a large utility sink or bathtub, in case overflow occurs during fermentation. Check it daily. You’ll know fermentation is finished when you no longer see tiny bubbles rising to the top—ours took about three weeks, but depending on the type of yeast you use and the temperature, timing could vary.
Siphon the wine into a clean glass carboy, taking care to not transfer over any of the dregs at the bottom of the fermentation bottle by keeping the siphon hose just above the sediment. Cap and refrigerate. Drink within 2 weeks.
Tip: Be sure all equipment is sterilized before you begin—cleanliness is critical. We used Star San, which is commonly available in most homebrew shops. Also, be sure all of the bubbling in the bottle has ceased before transferring the wine to a clean carboy and capping. After capping, keep the wine refrigerated and drink it within two weeks to ensure fermentation doesn’t restart—this could cause pressure to build and the capped carboy to shatter. If you want to keep the wine somewhat sweet or are planning to store it for longer than two weeks, check with your local homebrew shop about stabilization options.