A guide to making Ginger Wine

When I’m not drinking beer, one of my favourite cocktails has to be a Whisky Mac. It is quite a simple recipe really - two parts Ginger Wine, one part Bourbon and served over ice in a short glass. For some reason it always seems to remind me of Christmas as the warming glow of the ginger kicks in (or it could be the glow of the whisky!). After sampling a few of these ginger delights, it got me wondering if I could make Ginger Wine myself. Pretty certain I had seen a recipe for it somewhere before, I searched through my bookshelf and lo and behold, I came across this book by John Wright.

Booze - Hugh Fearnley Whittingstal

Simply entitled Booze, it is a collection of easy to follow homebrew recipes that range from beer to wine to cider. I wouldn’t exactly call it a hardcore brewing book, but it is a fun read and gets your brewing imagination thinking outside of the box.

Recipe

For this recipe, I used the guidance in Booze, but slightly altered it based on my own experience. It is an easy to follow recipe that only needs a few ingredients to get started. In fact, I’d say the most important ingredient for this recipe is time - if you are looking to get the best out of this Ginger Wine, I’d leave it alone to ferment and store for at least six months to a year.

The ingredients for this recipe are as follows and should make around 1 gallon (5 litres). The best thing about this recipe is that you can make almost all of it from the ingredients that you can buy on the shelves at your local supermarket.

Recipe

Name Amount
White Sugar 1.5 Kg
Root Ginger 500 grams
Raisins 500 grams
Lemons (Zest & Juice) 2

Yeast

Name Lab Temperature
White Wine Yeast Young's Brew 22 Celsius

Getting Started

Once I had my ingredients assembled, I started by adding 4.5 litres of water to my brew pot and adding 1.5 kg of white sugar to the water. While the water in the brew pot was heating up to a boil, I grated the hard skin off of the root ginger and then chopped the pieces as roughly and as small as I could.

Once the ginger was chopped, I added it to the water and waited for it to reach a slow boil.

Ginger Wine

In order to save some time and ensure that my brewing gear was as clean as possible and free of any nasties, I sanitised a 1 gallon glass demijohn (carboy) with some Star San solution.

Sanitising Demijohn / Carboy - Ginger Wine

Once the liquid had finished boiling for 30 minutes, I placed it in an ice bath to cool to a temperature of around 25 degrees celsius. Once the liquid had cooled to the appropriate temperature, I poured it into the glass carboy (demijohn) and added the raisins at the same time.

Adding raisins to Ginger Wine

Once all of the ingredients were in the carboy (demijohn), it looked a little like the image below.

Ginger Wine ready for fermenting

Next, I pitched a packet of white wine yeast into the glass carboy (demijohn) and fitted an airlock.

White wine yeast for Ginger Wine

With the liquid and yeast combined, I stored it in a dark cupboard at room temperature and checked in on it every few days. I have to admit, I was very surprised by the yeast activity after just one day; it bubbled away vigorously for almost two weeks. This is much more than my normal beer would do!

I monitored fermentation activity every few days, and after about 3 weeks it seemed to slow down and settle off. Once I was happy that it had completed, I equally distributed the brandy out amongst the bottles and topped the bottles up with the Ginger Wine.

Adding brandy to Ginger Wine

When it comes to the brandy that you add to your Ginger Wine, I wouldn't recommend using anything too fancy. I just used the cheapest brandy I could find from my local supermarket.

Bottling Ginger Wine over Dishwasher

If you are ever bottling and homebrew and you have a dishwasher in the house, I highly recommend opening the drawer and siphoning from the carboy (demijohn) over the drawer. This way, if you spill anything, it falls into the dishwasher drawer and you simply close it when you are done - easy!

Bottled Ginger Wine

That's it! Once complete, I sealed up the bottles and they will be stored away for the next 6 months to a year. I'll report back on their progress then.