It’s a HUGE Filipino grocery store about 30 minutes from us, and it’s a *wonderland*.
It’s where I first found out about calamansi - and ended up with an obsession - and it has all kind of amazing calamansi products.
It also has fresh ube, and all KINDS of ube products.
Frozen ube, ube jam, ube baked goods, ube extract, ube flavoured sweetened condensed milk... all in gorgeous shades of purple.
At one point last year, we went on a “let’s find something to ferment!” shopping trip. We bought frozen calamansi to make a mead.... and we decided to make ube wine!
... and here we are!
What is An Ube?
Ube is a purple yam from the Philippines. It’s traditionally used in desserts and sweet foods in Filipino cuisine, including as a jam.
Ube got really trendy in North America a few years ago, showing up in all kinds of desserts.
The gorgeous purple colour it lends to whatever it’s used in makes it incredibly “Pinteresty” / Insta-worthy, after all! (Have you seen my Ube White Chocolate Fudge??)
The thing is, it doesn’t really taste like a sweet potato - it tastes like ... well, dessert. Sweet, with almost a vanilla flavour.
Obviously something we’d need to make a wine out of, right?
What Does Ube Wine Taste Like?
I was honestly a bit shocked at the taste of our ube wine.
I guess I’d been expecting something like a non-spiced version of our Pumpkin Mead.
I’m not entirely sure why... probably just mentally relating mashed sweet potatoes to mashed sweetened squash?
Anyway... no, it tasted nothing like pumpkin mead.
It actually tasted really fruity, but ... hard to pin down. Almost a berry flavour?
Really nice, just really surprising!
This would be a great wine to have at a wine tasting, if there's any kind of flavour guessing component to it. NO ONE would guess that this is a yam wine!
How to Make Ube 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!
Ube 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.
We used fresh ube for this recipe, so that’s what we recommend doing. We tend to buy it at Seafood City, but we've also purchased it at other Asian grocers.
You may be able to find frozen ube. If it’s whole or in chunks, you’re probably ok using it as-is.
If it’s the mashed ube, I’m not 100% sure it’ll work, but would totally recommend trying!
Just make sure it’s only ube, without any added ingredients - ESPECIALLY preservatives. If you see anything like potassium sorbate in something... it won’t ferment.
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 grape - much like with any other 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 not only helps to bring out the ube flavour, it is an important part of winemaking.
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 Ube Mead
If you’d like to make a mead rather than a wine, you can swap the sugar out for honey. You can use 4-5 lbs of honey for this.
A couple of notes:
- I say “Ube Mead”, as that’s what most people would understand... But that’s not super accurate.
Mead with fruit is technically called “melomel”... but I’m not actually aware of what a mead flavoured with tubers would be!
None of the other classifications for mead fit, though... and this IS a fruity tasting wine... so maybe it is a melomel.
Anyone out there happen to 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 ube.
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 ubes you use (this will depend on how much starch comes out from your batch!), 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 ube 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.
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.
Raisins are there to add some body to the wine - which is especially important with this one!
Rather than using a fairly viscous fruit juice to make wine from, we’re basically brewing potato flavoured water!
Everything else in this recipe is technically optional, but contributes to it finishing as a well balanced wine. These ingredients include:
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 wine making.
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 Ube 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.
As previously mentioned ... not sweet enough could mean it not tasting like anything!
... so 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
Blackcurrant 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
Watermelon Wine Recipe
Cider & Miscellaneous Homebrew Recipes
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Homemade Ube Wine
- Scrub ube well, then peel and chop them into 1" chunks.
- Add ube to a large pot. Add 1 gallon of water, bring to a boil.
- Once water is boiling, turn heat down and simmer for 1 hour.
- While the pot is simmering, prepare your fermenter bucket:
- Wash and sanitize a 2 gallon plastic fermenter, lid, stopper, air lock, and wire strainer.
- Place raisins, acid blend, and yeast nutrient into the plastic fermenter.
- Affix the stopper to the lid of the fermenter, cover and set aside.
- Once the hour is up, use a slotted spoon to remove all of the ube pieces. Discard.
- Add the sugar to the pot, stir well, and continue simmering until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, allow to cool.
- Note: It doesn’t have to be all the way to room temperature, just cool enough that if it splashes on you, it won’t hurt - that’s a good guideline!
- Line the sanitized wire strainer with cheese cloth.
- Carefully strain ube water into the fer.menter, discarding the cheese cloth and any sludge that it caught.
- Affix air lock to lid, cover the bucket, and allow to fully cool over night. For the sake of consistency in readings - and therefore accuracy in ABV calculations - this should be done where you plan to let the wine ferment for the next few months - usually a basement.
- The next morning, check the Specific Gravity and write it down in your notes, along with the date.
- Add yeast to the fermenter bucket, stir with a long, sanitized spoon. Affix the lid, allow to sit for 24 hours.
- The next day, check to make sure that the yeast has started fermenting - there should be bubbles in the airlock, and/or foam in the liquid.
- Put the lid back on, allow to ferment for one week.
- 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 stone fruit wine off the sediment, into a clean, freshly sanitized carboy. Cap with sanitized airlock, leave it alone for another 1 month.
- Rack one more time, leave it for another 2 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.
- Follow the instructions on your selected type of wine stabilizer to stop fermentation from restarting. For potassium sorbate, this needs to be done 2-3 days before bottling.
- Using sanitized equipment, take a gravity reading if applicable, then back sweeten as desired, using sanitized equipment.
- Using sanitized equipment, rack the wine into clean, sanitized bottles. Cork.