Blackcurrants - and blackcurrant flavoured foods - was one of those “you don’t know what you want til it’s gone” things.
I’ve always loved the flavour, but when I moved to the USA in 2006 ... suddenly, there was just none of it around.
I had to get my fix whenever I’d take a trip home, including drinking as much of Nestea’s Blackcurrant iced tea as I could.
(I’m still salty that they discontinued the flavour before I moved home, BTW!)
So, when I finally moved home a few years ago, I was all about the blackcurrant EVERYTHING.
Luckily, we live just minutes from an Eastern European grocery store that has all of the blackcurrant everything! Also, only 20 minutes from U-Pick Blackcurrants!
Obviously, I was going to make a blackcurrant wine at some point... and here we are!
This makes a deep, dark, intense wine... with great flavour. If you love blackcurrants - or just different wines in general - you should definitely consider putting on a batch!
How to Make Blackcurrant Wine
If you haven't attempted making wine before, don't be intimidated! Check out our primer to home brewing:
Just a small handful of entries, and you'll be good to go!
Blackcurrant Wine Ingredients
This wine recipe requires only a few ingredients to make - super simple! Here is some information about those base ingredients that you may find helpful.
You can use fresh or frozen black currants - or a combination! - to make this wine. There are just a few differences in how to use them, and things to keep in mind:
When using fresh fruit, be sure to use very ripe, flavourful fruit only. Ideally, use something in-season, as off season fruit never seems to taste as good!
When using fresh berries, I like to macerate the fruit for several hours before I start making the wine.
By that, I mean I’ll chop up the berries in a food processor, put them in a large bowl or pot, and stir in the sugar.
Then, I cover and leave it for a while, to let the sugar do its thing.
The sugar draws the natural juices - and flavour! - out from the blackcurrants. I find this gives the best base to the wine, rather than starting with chopped fruit and water.
When using frozen fruit, you can skip the maceration process. Freezing and thawing blackcurrants - or pretty much any fruit - breaks them down in a way that ends up with a result similar to maceration.
I tend to find frozen blackcurrants at Eastern European grocery stores.
While sugar is technically optional when making wine, NOT adding any sugar will result in an INCREDIBLY dry wine.
When you’re making wine from blackcurrants - much like with most non-grape fruit - you’ll want it to have at least some residual sweetness to it, or it just won’t taste like much. The sugar helps to bring out the fruit flavour!
Also, blackcurrants are can be very bitter, and definitely do better with some sweetness added!
Sugar is an important part of winemaking, and there are a few aspects of sugar to keep in mind:
Type of Sugar
In terms of type of sugar, we prefer to use plain white granulated sugar for this wine.
How to Make Blackcurrant Mead
If you’d like to make a mead rather than a wine, you can swap the sugar out for honey. We’ll usually use 4-5 lbs of honey for this.
A couple of notes:
- I say “Blackcurrant Mead”, as that’s what most people would understand... but mead with fruit is technically called “melomel”.
So, swapping sugar out in favour of honey would give you a black currant melomel. The more you know!
- When you’re using honey instead of sugar, you’re going to want to be careful in your choice of honey. Where white sugar is fairly neutral in flavour, honey can be aggressively flavoured.
I recommend picking something lightly coloured and lightly flavoured - a clover or orange blossom honey, for instance.
Something like a wildflower or buckwheat honey is likely to completely overwhelm the flavour from the berries.
Aside from flavour, there’s the matter of alcohol content.
Your wine’s final ABV will vary wildly dependent on a few things: The initial sugar content of the fruit you use, how much sugar you add, and what kind of yeast you use (more on that in a bit)
Any amount of sugar will result in a higher alcohol content than making the same wine without sugar added.
Sugar - both in the base fruit itself, and from the added sugars - is what feeds the yeast, the yeast eats up the sugars and gives off alcohol as the byproduct of that process.
More sugar = more food = more alcohol... to a point, anyway. About that...
The type of yeast you use will impact the alcohol content of the final product.
Yeast organisms don’t have an *unlimited* capacity to process sugar into alcohol. At some point, the environment they’re living in - the brewing wine - becomes too high in alcohol for the yeast to survive. They die off, the fermentation stops.
Different types of yeast have different tolerances for alcohol in the environment. That is, some yeast will be able to survive higher amounts of alcohol in the wine, so they’ll continue producing it longer than some other types.
Some types of yeast will bring you to something like an 8% ABV, while others will let things run wild until close to 20% ABV.
It’s good to know what you have in mind, when you choose your yeast.
Ask your local homebrew supply shop for recommendations based on what you’re looking for.
If you want a sweet wine with a low-ish ABV - without having to back sweeten it (more on that in a bit) - choose a yeast with a lower tolerance for alcohol.
If you’re looking for a dry wine with a low ABV, choose a yeast with a lower tolerance for alcohol, and don’t use a ton of sugar.
If you want a sweet wine with a high ABV, use a bunch of sugar with a high-tolerance yeast... and be prepared to backsweeten it.
If you want a dry wine with a high ABV, use a fair amount of sugar and a high tolerance yeast.
Everything else in this recipe is technically optional, but contributes to it finishing as a well-balanced wine. These ingredients include:
Pectic Enzyme - Breaks down fruit, especially as it relates to preventing “haze” from the pectins.
Yeast Nutrient - Gives a boost to the yeast.
Making Larger Batches of Wine
As a note, you can easily scale this wine recipe up - in fact, there's a function inside the recipe card itself to do the math for you!
One note, though: You don't need to multiply the yeast, but the software doesn't know that. We will use one pouch of yeast for anything from 1-5x batches, and then 1 pouch for every 5x batches beyond that.
As a related note: The recipe software is definitely geared towards cooking, not winemaking. Therefore, you can pretty much ignore all of the info it gives you: The nutritional info is calculated on everything that goes into the wine.
It does not take into account how much sugar will be fermented out, how much volume is lost to racking, the fact that the fruit pulp is removed before the final product, etc.
Back Sweetening Your Homemade Blackcurrant Wine
Sometimes - usually, even - you’ll find that the yeast went a bit too far with their smorgasbord, and you end up with a wine that’s not as sweet as you’d like it.
... and that’s when you back sweeten it! You can read my How to Stabilize and Back Sweeten Wine post for information on how to back sweeten it.
More Home Brewing Recipes!
While you've got your current homebrew fermenting away, why not consider putting a batch of something else on, to occupy your wait time? Here are a few of my other wine, cider, and mead recipes:
Banana Wine Recipe
Blackberry Wine Recipe
Blueberry Wine Recipe
Cherry Wine Recipe
Cranberry Clementine Christmas Wine Recipe
Cranberry Wine Recipe
Faux Lingonberry Wine
Lychee Wine Recipe
Mango Strawberry Wine Recipe
Mango Wine Recipe
Mint Wine Recipe
Lychee Wine Recipe
Partridgeberry Wine Recipe
Passionfruit Wine Recipe
Peach Wine Recipe
Stone Fruit Wine Recipe
Strawberry Wine Recipe
Ube Wine Recipe
Watermelon Wine Recipe
Cider & Miscellaneous Homebrew Recipes
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Homemade Blackcurrant Wine
- Rinse and pick through blackcurrants, removing any that are moldy, etc. Remove stems and pits, chop them up.
- Place in a large pot, along with the sugar. Using a potato masher or VERY clean hands, stir and mash blackcurrants.
- Add water, stir well. Heat to ALMOST boiling, then simmer gently for 30 minutes. Stir in acid blend, enzyme, nutrient, and tannin.
- Pour mixture into a freshly sanitized fermenting bucket. Cover with sanitized lid and air lock, allow to cool to room temperature (overnight).
- The next morning, give the mixture a quick stir with a long, sanitized spoon, and – using sanitized equipment – take a gravity reading of the liquid (strain out any blackcurrants). Keep track of the number! (This is an optional step, but will allow you to calculate your final ABV %)
- Sprinkle yeast into fermenter, cover with sanitized cover and air lock. Within 48 hours, you should notice fermentation activity – bubbles in the airlock, carbonation and /or swirling in the wine must. This means you’re good to go!
- After a week or so, use your sanitized siphon setup to rack the must into a freshly sanitized carboy. Put the carboy somewhere cool (not cold!), and leave it alone for a month or so.
- Using sanitized equipment, rack the wine off the sediment, into a clean, freshly sanitized carboy. Cap with sanitized airlock, leave it alone for another 2-3 months.
- Rack one more time, leave it for another 3 months or so.
- When your wine has been racked a few times and shows NO more fermenting activity for a month or so (no bubbles in the airlock, no more sediment being produced, you can move on to bottling. **
- If stabilizing, follow the instructions on your selected type of wine stabilizer to stop fermentation. For potassium sorbate, this needs to be done 2-3 days before bottling.
- Backsweeten your wine, if desired.
- Using sanitized equipment, take a gravity reading, then rack the wine into clean, sanitized bottles. Cork.