3 Tips to Make Fruit Wine With More Fruit Flavor

Getting More Fruit In Homemade WineI recently entered a homemade blackberry wine into a judging contest. I did ok but two judges said my wine needed more fruit flavor. I used the wine recipe from Kraus. Do I need to add more fruit at the beginning of the fermentation? How do I get more fruit flavor in my wine? I usually make 5 gallons at a time.

Name: Thomas S.
State: Tennessee
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Hello Thomas,

Thanks for the great question! Flavor is a subjective topic. One person’s perception of a wine can be completely different from another’s. In fact, two of the tips I’m going to give you to make fruit wine with more fruit flavor (number 2 and 3) are based on perception and not reality:

  • Tip #1: Use more fruit – just as you suggested. This will also require you to add less acid blend than called for in the wine recipe. The reason for this is that more fruit acid is being provided by the fruit. An acid test kit may be the best way for you to tell how much acid blend is needed. The additional fruit will also provide more sugar to the wine must. You will want to use a hydrometer to know how much to add. This brings us to the next tip for getting more fruit flavor in your wine.
  • Tip #2: Make your wines with less alcohol. Lower alcohol wines tend to have more fruit flavor. High-alcohol wines numb the tongue, making flavor sensations tougher to experience. This wine can take on a watered-down characteristic. Instead of making your wines at 13%, 14%, or higher, try making them around 10% or 11%. Controlling your wine’s alcohol level is easily done by adding less sugar to the wine must. Again, a hydrometer is your friend in this situation. Add sugar to the wine must until the hydrometer gives you a potential alcohol reading in the 10% to 11% range.Shop Hydrometers
  • Tip #3: Back-sweeten the wine at bottling time. Don’t make your wine bone dry. When you pop a blackberry into your mouth, a lot of what makes a blackberry taste like a blackberry is its sweetness. The fermentation takes all that sweetness away by fermenting the sugars into alcohol. Sweetening the wine back just a little bit can give the perception of the wine having more fruit flavor. You don’t necessarily have to make the wine sweet. Use just enough sugar to take the bone-dry edge off the wine can make quite a difference. It is important that you stabilize the wine by adding potassium sorbate when sweetening. This will help to eliminate any chance of a re-fermentation in the bottle.

 

There are a couple of caveats that need to be brought up.

  1. Adding more fruit to increase the wines fruit flavor means that it will need more time to age. Bigger, bolder wines are harsher when they are first fermented. Aging plays a more important role in mellowing the harshness of these big wines.
  1. Shop Potassium SorbateThere is a limit to how much you can increase the fruit in a wine recipe. The limit is based on the acidity or tartness of the particular fruit being used. You do not want to add so much fruit that the wine ends up being too tart even without adding any acid blend, at all.

So Thomas, there you have it… three simple things you can do to get more fruit flavor into your homemade fruit wines. You can try just one of them, or you can try all three at the same time, on the same wine.

Happy Winemaking,
Ed Kraus
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Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

39 thoughts on “3 Tips to Make Fruit Wine With More Fruit Flavor

  1. He did say that he was using a kit, so I am thinking (wondering if) that option 1 and 2 are not really good options as the acid blend and the sugar is usually already set for you. Unless, possibly you were to add more water than what the kit ask for. Would that lower the alcohol and acid blend levels?

  2. Ryan, you can add fruit juice at the end, but there are some potholes that you need to look out for with this method. If the fruit juice is cloudy with pectin you are adding cloudiness to the wine when you do this. The juice needs to have its pectin removed — something that is normally done during the course of the fermentation. Also, you are increasing the acidity of the wine. This has a direct effect on the flavor. The wine could become too sharp or tart tasting. And, as always, you will need to stabilize the wine with potassium sorbate to prevent the possibility of a re-fermentation.

  3. This article has prompted me to ask a question about another possible way of making a wine with more fruit flavor. I have played with the idea of holding back some of the fruit juice when first pressing the fruit and preserving it by freezing it. Then using this juice after fermentation is complete to add fruit flavor and sweetness back to the wine. Is this also a viable and more natural option then adding some other type of sweetener?

    • No .Adding anything after fermentation (ie ready wine) will definately spoil wine as wine means conversion of sugar into alcohol which acts as preservative and will not allow any other raw liquid or particles which otherwise causeunknown problem

        • I agree with you John. I typically add additional juice after fermentation to bump up flavor and sweetness. I start the fermentation process by adding more sugar to increase the alcohol level using a champagne yeast to with stand the higher alcohol levels. To Bhaskar concerns, make sure you have acceptable acidity and alcohol levels to keep bacteria at bay.

          • I do this with strawberry wine. I make a simple syrup for back sweetening, heating it up just below the boiling point (so I don’t introduce pectin haze). When it cools a bit, I add it to the wine. I do let it settle a few weeks before bottling and rack it again when I do, to let any sediment drop out. Been doing it this way for 3 years, no spoilage.

  4. Ken, the answer was written with the assumption that Thomas was following a fruit wine recipe from our website, not a kit. Fresh fruit flavor can vary from season to season and from one fruit variety to the next, so a wine recipe is not necessarily the Holy Grail. Anyone using a wine ingredient kit would never want to mess around with the balance set up by the kit producers in the ways mentioned above, and I don’t think they would find it necessary. So I believe you are correct in your assessment that the above advice would not be the advantageous for someone making wine from a wine ingredient kit.. Thanks for the input.

  5. I have had this issue both with a kit and using fresh fruit. I made blackberry from a kit and my wife followed two different recipes for strawberry wine using fresh berries. We followed the recipes and they all basically ended up tasting the same with no noticeable fruit flavor. I did back-sweeten all of them a little. Frankly, I have pretty much given up on fruit wines after this result.

    • Alan,
      Never give up on the fruit wines, just try different ones. I have made over 60 different fruit flavored wines since starting in 2006. Some are blending assorted fruits. Not all are going to taste great, in fact some really questionable. But in general they produce many smiling faces. That’s the fun of experimenting in the art. The only one I have abandoned is watermelon. Tried two times and YUK! Dumped them both out. So don’t let one bad apple, so to speak, spoil the fun!

  6. I get a lot more flavor AND color by doing a pulp fermentation in a net bag. My 2015 Blueberry fermented on the pulp for two weeks (!!!) and has excellent color, but I should have backed off the acid blend altogether it is a little too acidic.
    I made a Cab. Sav. with less acid blend to blend with it. My daughter likes a 60/40 blend but I prefer 50/50.
    I am toying with the idea of omitting the acid this year and correcting it (If needed at all) after fermentation. Has anyone tried this with good results? I guess it would be a better idea to purchase a ph test meter!

  7. I usually test the must acid level prior to pitching the yeast and adjust it to about 0.5% at that time. That level seems to work well with most yeasts. After fermentation and a couple rackings, I will again test the acid level and make final adjustments then. My experience is I loose about 1/4 of the acidity during fermentation. Also, I get bigger flavor fermenting on the skins, berries, fruits.
    Ken H

  8. I only make my wine from store bought frozen concentrated juices. So I never add acid blend to my wines or test for it or test for PH either. These things have all been done before they were frozen. I always add pectin to these juices though because there is still pulp in them that needs to be broken down and that is what pectin does in a must, taking a lot of that labor off of the yeast so they can remain stronger longer just breeding and making alcohol. I also add lemon juice, one full cup to 16 cups of sugar and 15 cups of super hot water.to the sugar before I add it to the juice. I use a drill to blend the lemon juice sugar and water for at least 10 to 15 minutes before I add it to the rest of the must. The lemon juice breaks down the cane sugar the same as pectin breaks down the pulps and skins. Making it again easier for the yeast to do their job and live a happier life while they still have one. I make all my wines 14-16% fermenting out all the sugar before sweeting back with two more cans of frozen juice with out adding more water to those cans. That replaces color lost in fermenting and flavor. Sorbate and bottle. One 16oz glass of my wine sends me to bed a mellow man, two glasses adds a little song and side step to my walk up the stairs.

    • I to would like a copy of your recipe so that I can get a better handle on your starting point in your wine making and the tweaking that you do throughout your process. I to find it frustrating that the fruit wine I try to make has very little flavor of the original starting fruit.

    • Mr. James I have been using different wine recipes and this one with Frozen Juice is one I have never tried !! I mainly use fresh fruit ; would love to get a copy W/ directions if possible ; Thank-you for your time !

    • just ran across your article on making wine from concentrate, sound very interesting!! If I’m not asking for too much, could you see clear to sending me the specifics on the start to finsih recipe. I’ve been using my concord vines in the backyard to make some bottles, but your thoughts on the concentrate sound awesome. Thank you so much for your valuable time and information.

      Mike

    • Thank you for this information. My cherry wine has no cherry flavour at all, nor does my peach wine. I am going to try adding concentrate to it in the hopes that the wine is salvageable.

  9. I never knew that lower alcohol wines tended to have more fruit flavor. I’ll have to remember that for the next time my husband and I buy wine. My husband is a lover for wine, so we drink it a few times a week.

  10. James, thank you for the valuable information on using frozen juice concentrates. I’ve made several blends with frozen juice concentrate but did add acid blend not realizing it was not necessary and I had no idea of the value of adding lemon juice.. I have been leary about back sweetening with more concentrate but will try in my next batch of Cherry Pomegranate as I would like to bring the Pomegranate flavors forward a bit more.

    • Love Cranberry Pomegranate myself. So thank you for your thank you that I just now found a year later? Anyway; I don’t use frozen concentrated juices anymore because it is actually cheaper to just buy the concentrated juices in 2qt bottles with no sugar added. That’s close to a 50% saving on just the juice alone. You might like making your own back sweeter instead of just using concentrate? Its a lot easier to control than just using concentrate alone. Put one cup of hot concentrated juice in one cup of Cain sugar 50/50 mix. That’s 16oz. mix and blend it into a syrup. Pore one oz at a time for each gallon you are back sweeting. but not all at once. go slow and stir to mix: then taste. Keep going until its taste is to your liking. You can make this mix with just hot water if you want to? But I told you to use the concentrate instead because it will add back more color as well as taste and sweeting. Hope that helps you out. jim.

  11. I use 100% blackberry not juice when making blackberry wine a lot of effort but well worth it. Some I make into blackberry port which is very good if not excellent

  12. Hello,
    Thanks for the great answer. I just wanted to mention that we supply high quality convetional and organic bulk fruit purees and bulk fruit juice concentrates which you can use for making fruit wines and fruit beers.

  13. People always comment on how intense and great my fruit flavor is in my wines. One way I do this is to age it after primary with more fruit. Then let it clear for a long time. I have also used the natural fruit flavor additives which also really boost that flavor. If you use both of those its almost a overpowering fruit profile.
    But when you taste my wine there is no doubt what flavor it is all about.
    When I made Cider from the apples from my tree once ferment was totally dead, I added some fresh pressed juice as the backsweetening agent. But I made wine at about 16 % ABV to start however. This addition cuts that down and REALLY boosts that apple flavor. But you got to make sure you killed that ferment, or maybe use sparkling wine/Champagne bottles or might have some bottle bombs.

  14. lots of talk about frozen concentrates but I am an ol’ farm girl and can everything that comes into the house! I have a shelf full of canned fruit juices (no sugar) and my mind is thinking maybe???? Can I use these juices to make wine?

    • Absolutely, i sometimes use my steamer to extract the juice from my Montmorency Cherries & Concord Grapes and put the juice right in the carboy to ferment. It takes much longer and is a lot more work than just putting the fruit in a nylon bag and squeezing the cherry juice in a big 10 gal food grade bucket and then putting it into the carboy. I do it both ways. Your fruit juice is very valuable, you get the best of both worlds fresh fruit juice and fruit wine.

  15. Alan,
    Never give up on the fruit wines, just try different ones. I have made over 60 different fruit flavored wines since starting in 2006. Some are blending assorted fruits. Not all are going to taste great, in fact some really questionable. But in general they produce many smiling faces. That’s the fun of experimenting in the art. The only one I have abandoned is watermelon. Tried two times and YUK! Dumped them both out. So don’t let one bad apple, so to speak, spoil the fun!

  16. Hello Friends,
    First, I would like to make kiss-ass to the owners, saying that guys who run this web source are the best in wine making secrets professionals for all of us! And I send em my respect!
    I know that, because I am using their advices for more than 5 yeas, in my hobby, daily!!
    I make my wines with tropical fruits, because I live in Caribbean tropics, where day temperature is near 100F and fluctuates down to 75-80F at night. There is no yeasts will work great in such conditions to make your wine dry and for the first a few years I was facing with stuck fermentation at SG 1.020-1.030. Time to learn secrets in how to make dry wine at highest climate temperature by using regular shampain yeast took about two more years for me and now I want those my secrets to share.
    Tip # 4. Freeze your fruits before fermenter for at least 48 hrs. It will breach the fiber and your wine will receive maximum sweetness from the fruits.
    Tip# 5. After primary fermentation (5-7days) you need to rack your must for secondary. Using hydrometer You can see by that time that activity of yeasts are dropping down. Yes, their grown the colony to maximum and now they need more oxygen to activate them. So, you do racketing straight from first bucket to the next with splashing as much as it is goes. You can do this by using filter (regular kitchen things for pasta for example, but clean), And you put airlock! The SG MUST BE 1.010-20 max. Within an hour you will see a massive bubbling start and secondary fermentation will continue for 2-3 more weeks. I always have dry wine with SG 0.990-0.992.
    The taste and color of wine is super, no need to sweeten it. Clear and Ready to drink without bentonite and months of aging!
    Enjoy my experience and more of my thanks to Eddy!

    Just would like to share my experience adding two more tips to the subject of this post. TIP # 4: Freeze your fruits before put them in fermenter

  17. This may raise eyebrows as being a dumb question……..
    I can buy wine (Shiraz) for $18 for six bottles. It’s not bad , but could I improve it by adding dark berries oak chip, pepper ???
    Will it re ferment ?
    Will it help?
    What would I need to do / is it worth doing?
    Thanks.

    • Mark, while we do not have any experience altering store bought wine, you can certainly play around with a bottle or two by adding flavorings. However, if you are trying to add more sugar to ferment, most likely the wine has been stabilized and will not re-ferment.

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