Blackberry wine is a crowd-pleasing beverage that is surprisingly easy to make at home. No matter your level of experience, here you’ll learn all you need to know about how to make blackberry wine.
What Does Blackberry Wine Taste Like?
If you like fruity red wines, you will like blackberry wine. Most people describe blackberry wine as having a smooth and balanced flavor, like a Merlot or Malbec. Homemade blackberry wine tends to be complex and aromatic, sure to impress your friends.
Just like with any other wine, the flavor profile of the end product depends on the quality of the fruit you start with. Select ripe berries that are bursting with flavor for a rich wine. You can’t fix a bland berry!
Did you know that your genetics contribute to your wine preferences? If you were born with high taste sensitivity, you might find dry wines or hard ciders overwhelmingly bitter. Fruits with high tannins make dry wine with a bitter flavor. Blackberries are low in tannins, leading to a sweet wine that you will love.
Is Blackberry Wine Good For You?
Not only are they delicious, but blackberry wines have many health benefits. Similar to elderberries, blackberries are full of antioxidants that can lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of strokes. Consuming moderate amounts of blackberry wine can even reduce the risk of heart disease. Basically, there are only good reasons to make blackberry wine at home!
All the Equipment You Need to Make Blackberry Wine
If you are new to wine making, don’t be intimidated by all the equipment out there. Here’s a list of the basics you will need to make blackberry wine at home. Good news – you’ll be able to use almost all of this equipment again for other types of wine.
You’ll need more fermenting containers and bottling equipment if you are making a large batch of wine. A good rule of thumb is 5 bottles and corks per gallon of wine, but it never hurts to have a few extras on hand. Make sure your primary fermenter is large enough for your fruit juice before you start making blackberry wine.
Equipment You Need for Homemade Wine:
- Primary fermentation container (a plastic fermenting bucket works well)
- Glass carboys as secondary fermentation containers
- Air lock or fermentation traps for the carboys
- Food-grade straining bag
- Plastic tubing for a siphon
- Hand corker
- Wine bottles
- pH meter
- Optional: shrink wrap capsules and labels for the bottled wine
How to Make Blackberry Wine At Home
Now that you have all your equipment gathered, it’s time to start making blackberry wine. This recipe makes a small 1-gallon batch of blackberry wine or about 5 bottles.
If you’re a complete beginner to wine making, start with a small batch to understand the fermentation process before moving on to large batch wine recipes. Experienced winemakers, feel free to multiply the recipe for several gallons of wine.
What Kind of Wine Yeast Works Best for Blackberry Wine?
Yeast is the key to turning fruit juice into wine. The bacteria in yeast convert sugar into alcohol. Different types of yeast produce different results, often specific to a type of wine. Some yeasts are sensitive to temperature, and others work best in high-sugar fruits.
It is best to use a red wine yeast for blackberry wine. Blackberries are very sweet and low in tannins. Sweet wine yeasts, in particular red wine yeast, will bring out the rich flavors of the wine. Red Star Premier Classique or Montrachet yeasts work well. Check the yeast packet to figure out exactly how much you need based on the size of your batch.
What Kind of Blackberries Work Best for Blackberry Wine?
Fresh blackberries, frozen blackberries, and prepared juice mixed work for wine-making. However, you’ll follow a different fruit preparation method for each type.
How to Prepare Fresh Blackberries for Wine:
If you’re lucky enough to grow your own fruit or live near a patch, pick when it’s blackberry season. Prepare fresh berries for wine in 3 steps:
- Sort through the berries to remove any underripe or unhealthy fruit. Soak the berries in cold water for an hour to remove pests like caterpillars or other creepy-crawlies (they will float to the top). The pesky vinegar fly can actually change the flavor of your wine so don’t skip this step!
- Mash the berries (or throw them in the food processor for a minute) and put them in your primary fermenting container. It’s just fine to have a few stems in there. It will have a thick consistency.
- Pour a few cups of boiling water over the berry mash to sterilize the fresh fruit and follow the rest of the recipe!
How to Prepare Frozen Blackberries for Wine:
You can use frozen blackberries for wine-making – all you have to do is thaw them in your primary fermenter and you’re good to go. A prepared juice is easy and requires no preparatory steps, but won’t always have the same depth of blackberry flavor fresh fruit wine would.
Step-By-Step Blackberry Wine Brewing Timeline
Before you start your wine-making, get familiar with the process from start to finish. Those months of aging can feel like a long time, but homemade blackberry wine is worth the time and effort!
Day 0: Gather blackberries
Obtain fresh or frozen blackberries or juice. If you’re picking your own blackberries, be sure to watch out for brambles and nettles. The branches and thorns of the thicket can be an ugly surprise- consider a berry picker for an easier day.
Day 1: Get Started
Mix your prepared berries with boiling water and cool slightly. Stir in the pectic enzyme, yeast nutrient, and acid blend. Let the mixture sit until room temperature in a cool location.
Week 1: Primary Fermentation
Stir the mixture with a sanitized spoon. Strain out the leftover blackberry pulp with a clean mesh bag. Before adding yeast, use your hydrometer to measure the original gravity. You’ll use this later to calculate the % ABV (alcohol by volume) of the blackberry wine.
3 Steps to Use a Hydrometer:
- Sterilize all your equipment.
- Fill a sample jar most of the way with juice mixture.
- Place the hydrometer in the juice mixture and spin it to get rid of air bubbles. Wait until the hydrometer settles and read the number, then add granulated sugar as needed until the wine reaches about 1.090.
Now, sprinkle the wine yeast over the juice mixture. Within a day or two, you should see carbonation and bubbles – this means your yeast is at work and the wine is fermenting. Blackberry wine tends to ferment violently, so watch it closely during the primary ferment and stir it daily for about a week.
Week 2: Strain and Move into Glass Carboys
After a week of primary fermentation is up, use a sanitized siphon to rack the wine into your glass carboys. Put an air lock on each carboy and leave the wine to do a secondary ferment for a month or two.
Week 8: Racking Stage to Remove Sediment
The racking process isn’t too difficult. The goal is to siphon your wine into another clean carboy but leave any sediment behind. Once you’re done, cap the siphons and allow your homemade blackberry wine to ferment for another month.
Week 10: Taste and Check-In
Swiss and French traditions make blackberry wine with high sugar content and a lot of sweetness, but the beauty of wine-making is that the final product is up to you. There are a few flavor tweaks you can make at this point. If the wine is not sweet enough for you, add some sugar syrup. If you prefer a drier wine with a more acidic taste, add just a pinch of tannin powder.
Week 12 to Week 16: Second Racking and Bottling
If you prefer blackberry wine with more sweetness, bottle it on the early side and add a stabilizer to stop the brewing process and prevent further fermentation. If you prefer dry wine, rack as late as 16 weeks to give the sugars more time to ferment for higher alcohol content.
Before bottling, measure the final gravity with your hydrometer using the same process as before. The final gravity of blackberry wine should be around 0.992 to 0.996. If it is much higher, ferment the wine for longer to allow the yeast to convert excess sugar into alcohol.
Bottling wine is a hands-on process so grab a friend or family member to help. Siphon your wine clean glass carboy to remove last bits of sediment, and then siphon the wine into bottles. Put some towels on the floor to catch spills. Then, use your hand corker to seal each bottle. Label and shrink-wrap the wine if you desire, or mark the bottling date on the corks.
Week 52: Drink the Wine
A common question is, “how long should I age blackberry wine?” The answer really depends on your personal taste. The blackberry wine will taste just fine within a few months from bottling as a sweet wine. However, the flavors will gain complexity and richness with time. Let your wine sit for six months to a year for best flavor.
Now you’re all set to make blackberry wine. Gather your ingredients, and follow this easy blackberry wine recipe for instructions. The more you make wine the better your results will be, so don’t wait to get started! Keep on practicing with Lemberger grapes, Champagne grapes, or even plums.
- 4-5 pounds of blackberries or 2 quarts blackberry juice
- 3 1/2 pounds of sugar (regular granulated sugar works fine)
- 1/8 teaspoon tannin powder (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon pectic enzyme (also known as pectolase)
- 1 teaspoon yeast nutrient
- 1/2 teaspoon acid blend
- Red wine yeast
- Potassium sorbate or Campden tablets (optional, to stabilize the wine and help with color clarity)
- 1 gallon of water
- Prepare your berries. Mash fresh berries or thaw frozen berries and put them in your clean primary fermenting bucket. Pour about a gallon of boiling water over them to sterilize the berries and draw out the juice.
- Stir in the pectic enzyme, yeast nutrient, and acid blend. Put the lid and an air lock on the fermenting bucket and allow it to rest until the next morning to about 70 degrees which is ideal for red wine yeast.
- Stir the mixture with a sanitized spoon. Strain out the leftover blackberry pulp with a mesh bag into another sanitized bucket. Add sugar until wine reaches a reading of around 1.090 on your hydrometer.
- Sprinkle your yeast over the juice mixture. Check the packet to see exactly how much you will need. Cover the fermenting bucket and make sure your airlock is tight. Within a day or two you should see carbonation and bubbles - this means your yeast is at work and the wine is fermenting. Blackberry wine tends to ferment violently, so watch it closely during the primary ferment and stir it daily for about a week.
- After a week of primary fermentation is up, use a sanitized siphon to rack the wine into your glass carboys. Put air locks on the carboys and leave the wine to do a secondary ferment for a month or two.
- Rack the wine again to get rid of sediment (the small particles that have fallen to the bottom of your wine). This is a good point to taste the wine and make any adjustments necessary. Let the wine ferment for another few weeks.
- When the wine has no more bubbles, sediment, or carbonation it is time for bottling. Take the final gravity of your wine and make sure it tastes how you would like. If you want to stabilize your wine, add the potassium sorbate or campden tablets a few days before bottling.
- Bottle the wine and cork it. Age for about 5 more months
before tasting. The bottled wine should stay good in a cool, dark place for
The % ABV (alcohol by volume) of your final wine should be between 12 to 15%. To calculate % ABV, subtract original gravity from final gravity and multiply by 131.25.