Cranberry Clementine Christmas Wine
Originally published December 28, 2011 , Updated on 10/13/20
I've mentioned our holiday home brewing tradition before. Rather than deal with crowds, traffic, people, and the kind of over-stimulation that drives us both nuts, we use holidays as a bit of quiet time at home, enjoying each others' company... while brewing up something tasty.
A few days before the holiday, my husband clears space in the brew room, while I design our recipe. For our Christmas day brew, we try to do something holiday themed, both to remind us of our "holiday", and so that the final wine will be something appropriately themed for future holiday consumption. You know, being labeled as "Christmas wine"!
That, and this wine goes particularly well with holiday roast dinners, with appetizer spreads, etc. It’s incredible as a seasonal wine!
The first year of this tradition was when we designed the recipe for Clementine Mead, which has since gone on to become a favorite not only with us, but with other homebrewers. Cheers, guys!
As I'd mentioned last Christmas, our 2010 Christmas Wine was a Cranberry Clementine Wine. Oh MAN, did it ever turn out amazing!
1 year to the day we brewed it, we were serving this up at a friend's "orphan's Christmas" Doctor Who marathon. (Having moved our traditional holiday brew day up 1 day to accommodate such a worthy event!).
This turns out a gorgeous light red, fruity wine, without any of the unpleasantness I associate with red wines in general (Tannins, the cigarette taste, etc). The clementine oranges work beautifully with the cranberries, and the result is a smooth, festive libation.
We really love the use of “Christmas Oranges” to flavor our holiday brews... and they certainly didn't disappoint in this recipe. Don't wait til next Christmas to put a batch of this on - those Clementines oranges are at peak season for another month or so!
Getting Started with Wine Making
If you haven't attempted home brewing before, don't be intimidated, it’s not as complicated as you might think.
Basically, you get something - fruit and water or juice... some sugar, toss some yeast in it, and let it go!
Ok, it’s a bit more involved than that, but not by much! Be sure to check out our primer to home brewing, it starts here, with parts 2 and 3 here and here. Just a small handful of entries, and you'll be good to go!
Cranberry Clementine Wine Ingredients
When we first designed this recipe, we were living in Minneapolis. The tap water there was terrible, so we used jugs of spring water for all of our wine recipes.
It’s a convenient option for measuring, is sterile, and pretty much guarantees that you won’t get any weird flavours in your wine from the water.
If your tap water is consistently tasty and safe, you can definitely feel free to use that instead of bottled.
You can use fresh or frozen cranberries to make this wine, just be sure you’re using cranberries - and nothing but. Cans of cranberry sauce will NOT suffice!
Any kind of preservatives will prevent fermentation from happening; any sugars will affect the sugar levels (obviously)
Depending on what brand of cranberries you buy, you may end up with slightly more or slightly less cranberry weight. It’s all good - just go with what you have! For what it’s worth, though, I’d rather be on the “slightly more” side, myself.
Pick through your cranberries when you open the bags, getting rid of any bits that don’t belong, or cranberries that are mushy or have gone bad.
If you have a food processor, you can run the cranberries though for a few seconds to break them up a bit. You don’t want them to be a puree, just chopped enough that their juices and flavours will leech out into the water/sugar mixture easily.
A puree will make racking it a bit more difficult. Not impossible, just more effort and a bigger mess than is necessary!
While the cranberries are something you can buy and use right away in this Cranberry Clementine Wine recipe, the clementines need a little more planning.
We use the peels of 20-30 clementine oranges. So, as we buy - and hoover - a couple cases of clementines early in the season, we save the peels.
If there’s an excess amount of pith left on the peels, I’ll quickly scrape a spoon over the inside of the peels to get rid of the extra pith, then bag it and toss it in the fridge.
If you’re someone who can easily go through 20-30 clementines, it’s fine for you to do the same. If it takes you a bit longer to collect that many orange peels, just toss them in the freezer until you have enough - it’s perfectly fine to just toss the frozen peels into the mix when making this wine.
Alternatively, you can just use regular orange peels. Most oranges work well with a vegetable peeler, and you’ll need fewer of them, given the size of clementines. If you’re using normal sized oranges, you can do 10-15 oranges worth of peel.
We prefer to use granulated sugar for this, as the flavour is neutral enough to not cover up or weigh down the bright fruit flavour from the cranberries.
We don’t recommend using brown sugar or maple syrup for this, though you can swap out all or part of the granulated sugar for honey, if you’d like.
Back Sweetening Your Christmas Wine
Sometimes - especially depending on the type of yeast used - you’ll find that the yeast ends up fermenting the wine to be a bit more dry than you’d like... and that’s when you back sweeten it!
You can read my Homemade Strawberry Wine post for information on how to back sweeten it.
I’m currently working on a post about back sweetening, and it will be up long before any home brew hard iced tea batch put on now will even be close to being ready to worry about back sweetening!
More Homemade Wine Recipes
While you've got your Cranberry Clementine Wine 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:
Home Brew Hard Iced Tea
Homemade Banana Wine Recipe
Homemade Blackberry Wine Recipe
Homemade Blueberry Mead Recipe
Homemade Blueberry Wine Recipe
Homemade Cherry Recipe
Homemade Clementine Mead Recipe
Homemade Cranberry Clementine Christmas Wine Recipe
Homemade Cranberry Wine
Homemade Faux Lingonberry Wine Recipe
Homemade Hard Apple Cider Recipe
Homemade Mango Wine Recipe
Homemade Mango Strawberry Wine Recipe
Homemade Mint Wine Recipe
Homemade Newfoundland Partridgeberry Wine Recipe
Homemade Strawberry Wine Recipe
Homemade Watermelon Wine Recipe
Homemade Wildflower Mead Recipe
How to Make Pumpkin Mead
Maple Hard Apple Cider Recipe
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Now, on to that Cranberry Clementine Christmas Wine Recipe!
More Holiday Recipes
Looking for more inspiration for your holiday spread? Whether Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, or any of the other holidays, here's a few ideas for you!
Bacon Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Brandied Apple Upside Down Cake
Chicken Based Potato Sausage Recipe - Potatiskorv
Gluten-Free Chicken Mushroom Tortiere
Maple Bourbon Glazed Carrots
Mushroom Brie Turnovers
Orange Ginger Cranberry Sauce
Pumpkin Spice Nanaimo Bars
Savoury Mushroom Chestnut Stuffing
Southern Comfort Glazed Ham