Real Fermenting: Maple Wine

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Maple Wine

A fine time to return to brewing  - the fall. Autumn. It's always so exciting to me when the new fall vegetables and fruits come into season. My own brewing history began with an autumnal abundance of pomegranates and pineapple guava. Now I have an abundance of apples, and I want to make an apple beer, but first, the inspiration struck me to make maple wine.

Maple syrup is one of my favorite foods. I have a sweet tooth, but maple syrup has always seemed more nutritional than simple sugar syrup. And you know what? It's packed with vital minerals (this gallon of wine will have about 20 doses of the daily value of manganese). And there is something exciting about pouring a quart of maple syrup at one time. I really recommend trying this recipe for that reason alone. Forget the expectations of a complex, full-bodied white wine in the spring and enjoy fermentation at its simplest level. Great ingredients, yeast, drink!

Pouring the syrup


This wine is beautiful in its simplicity. You start with four ingredients and add yeast. No chopping fruit or any of that hassle. This is minimum barrier to entry fermenting.

Recipe

3 quarts water
1 quart Maple Syrup
1 tsp yeast nutrient
1 tsp acid blend
1 packet Pasteur Champagne yeast

Heat the water. I used Arrowhead spring water, but only because that was what I had on hand after my trip to Bass Lake last weekend. The water doesn't have to boil, you just need it to be easy to combine the syrup and water. Pour in the syrup when the water is around 140F - around when it gets too hot to stick your hand in. I bought my syrup at Trader Joe's for the decent price of ~$17 for a quart. I would love to hear if anyone brews this recipe from their own syrup, or from a local source to them. Ain't no sugarwood in California. 

Enough for a gallon of wine

Turn off the heat and stir the syrup so it completely dissolves and mixes in. Quickly add the yeast nutrient (the yeast needs a little help with these really concentrated sugars) and acid blend (this should help with the end flavor balance) and stir those in too. Dump the whole lot into your clean primary fermenter and wait for it to cool down to room temperature or 5-10F above that.

Tule barges into the shot of the champagne yeast
Now the must or sugary-water-mix is cooled, it's time to add the yeast. You can use any wine yeast, especially those intended for white wines. But the champagne yeast is a great robust option for us, and the price is really really right!

And that's it for now. Airlock that sucker and wait for a month before moving it into the secondary fermenter. I'll make an update when I get to that stage, around November 14th. Until then, good luck and good fermenting!

24 comments:

  1. how did it turn out?

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    1. It was great! Pretty much as the recipe stated, it had a surprising oakiness. I forgot to take pictures because I took this wine to a party where it all got consumed pretty damn quick. That's the best review in my book.

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  2. How long did you leave it in secondary?

    How long did you let it age in bottles?

    Did you backsweeten?

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    1. It was in secondary for about a month.

      It bottles for another couple of months after that. I didn't back sweeten. It was not carbonated, but that is something I would consider in the future.

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  3. I agree with the comment above. Could you please touch base on the rest of your technique?

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    1. I hope my comment above satisfies your curiosity.

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  4. Why didn't you use maple sap and skip the water?

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    1. I don't have access to Maple Sap here in sunny California, but you could absolutely do that. I bet it would have a really stronger maple flavor without all the boiling. But you probably will still want to sterilize it somehow.

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    2. Plain maple sap isn't concentrated enough to ferment into standard wine alcohol percentages. The sap/syrup ratio is about 40/1 for normal syrup. Sap to wine-level percent syrup is about 10/1.
      I made my first batch of maple wine this year from my own syrup and am planning to bottle it this morning. Really looking forward to tasting it.
      I've read that the heat required to get it to the standard syrup level contributes some caramelization to the flavor and color. But, I freeze-concentrated the sap as much as I could, since we had a cold spring, and I did notice some darkening with concentrating though that may have also have come from age--storage in gallon jugs in snowbanks for up to 4 or 5 weeks.

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    3. Plain maple sap isn't concentrated enough to ferment into standard wine alcohol percentages. The sap/syrup ratio is about 40/1 for normal syrup. Sap to wine-level percent syrup is about 10/1.
      I made my first batch of maple wine this year from my own syrup and am planning to bottle it this morning. Really looking forward to tasting it.
      I've read that the heat required to get it to the standard syrup level contributes some caramelization to the flavor and color. But, I freeze-concentrated the sap as much as I could, since we had a cold spring, and I did notice some darkening with concentrating though that may have also have come from age--storage in gallon jugs in snowbanks for up to 4 or 5 weeks.

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    4. Just to clarify on the idea of using straight sap - maple sap is only 2 - 3% sugar when tapped from the tree, when syrup producers boil down the sap they concentrate it to 66 -67% sugar hence the 40 to 1 ratio (40 gallons sap to produce 1 gallon syrup)

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    5. Thanks for your knowledgeable and detailed comment. Very useful info.

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    6. I will soon make another batch. There is a color variation in the syrup as the tapping season progresses. When the "bud run" begins the color darkens. The taste also changes and the taste of the wood is more prominent. Fun and easy to make. Pairs with foods well. Enjoy.

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    7. Because you have to boil down 40 gallons of sap to yield one gallon of syrup. Had he used sap, it would've been about 10 times too weak.

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  5. Thanks for the recipe, gonna try this myself once spring rolls around and the sap is flowing. Get some Vermontville Maple Syrup ;) best maple syrup around, we even got a festival for it too, if you're ever in MI at the end of April, check us out.

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    1. Some one told me Vermont maple is the best in the US! I think he is a Canada maple fan.

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  6. I made a great batch of Maple Wine. It came out on the strong oaky tasting side but very good especially on ice. I'm sure aging will make it even better.
    1 Gallon of Maple Syrup
    1 lb Brown Sugar
    3 Gallons of Water
    4 tsp Yeast Nutrient
    4 tsp of Acid Blend
    Wyeast 4184 Sweet Mead Yeast
    Use a specific gravity of 1.090 to 1.100 to check sugar content

    Heat 2 gallons of water. The water doesn't have to boil, you just need it to be easy to combine the syrup and water. Pour in the syrup when the water is around 140F - around when it gets too hot to stick your hand in. Turn off the heat and stir the syrup so it completely dissolves and mixes in. Quickly add the yeast nutrient and acid blend and stir those in too. Add 1 gallon of cold water into your clean primary fermenter and then add your syrup mixture as well. Then add 1 lb of brown sugar, stir and wait for it to cool down to room temperature. Add Yeast. When fermentation is finished (30 days), rack and add 1 qt more of Maple Syrup. Let site in secondary at least 30 more days and bottle.

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    1. Beautifully written recipe, thank you!

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    2. So the total syrup is 1 gal. or 1 gal. pre-fermentation then 1 qt. after fermentation is complete?

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    3. What was the final gravity?

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  7. can you use pancake syrup ?

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    1. You certainly could, but check the ingredients. A lot of them are cut with corn syrup to bring down the cost, which will leave you with a weaker maple flavor at the end of fermentation. Any preservatives may slow down the fermentation, but since they'll be diluted to 1/4th-1/5th their original concentration they shouldn't stop it outright (I've actually used Mountain Dew as an adjunct sugar in a pale ale, leaves an interesting citrusy flavor).

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    2. I really would not. Pancake syrup is high fructose corn syrup plus sotolon, a compound found in fenugreek. Pancake syrups don't contain any maple sap. They are generally a lot thicker than maple syrup and you'd have to calculate your original gravity etc. If you want to ferment corn syrup and preservatives, there's probably cheaper ways to buy that. Just don't call it maple wine.

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  8. We began making maple syrup for our own use 2 seasons ago. Last year I had a barrel of sap left at the end of the season that had sat over a month. The barrel had been packed in a snow pile and smelled OK. So I boiled it down. When finished it had an unpleasant sour taste. Sweet, but off flavor. I hated to dump it, so I took 2 gallons and cut it 50% with water to make 4 gallons. I put that in a 5 gallon plastic carboy along with nutrient and a yeast variety for cooler temperatures. I put it in a cool corner and forgot about it for 9 months. We had made wine only once before, so my expectations were low. Much to my amazement its good! It is closer to a liquor than wine. But the off taste is gone. I am not sure what properly made maple wine is supposed to taste like, but we like this. Stephen White-Northern Wisconsin

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