Our preservation kitchen is in full gear when the peaches arrive. Peaches have a high sugar content and high acidity, making them excellent for canning. They are also ideal for homemade wine. After the canned fruit is put up, you can start the fermentation process.
Vermont may not be the peach capital, but selective breeding has led to new varieties of peaches for zone 4 climates. I am so excited. I have even had a few neighbors taste their homegrown peaches. We still have tiny trees, but we preserve a few crates every year of Pennsylvania Amish Country peaches.
We have a lot of home-canned fruit on our shelves. I also make peach pie filling peach jelly, and scrap peach jelly. There’s only so many jams and preserves that my family can consume in a given year. So, of course, I decided to make homemade peach wines.
Since peaches are soft, I have tried using a small juicer at home to extract juice for wine. However, it only produces a puree of peaches. It’s for this reason that they don’t have jugs of pure peach juice in the stores. The juice comes out looking more like nectar. But there is another way…
This year, I am using the sugar juicing method that I learned when I made rhubarb wines. The peaches should be chopped and packed in sugar. The sugar will draw out the juice from the peach and will break down the cells. This makes the juice more digestible to wine yeast.
It will look absurd when you add sugar to peaches. Sugar is a lot like a smothering agent for the peaches, making it difficult to imagine that this can be turned into juice. Patience…
Sugar does the hard work, and the peaches release their juice within minutes. In about an hour, the sugared juice from a jar peaches is ready for making peach wine.
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to overpower the peach taste by adding too much sugar. To avoid overpowering the peach taste, I add very little sugar when I make homemade peach jam. My husband was not convinced. Although he prefers dry wine, he felt that a dry peach would be unappealing. It is important to have enough sugar in the fermentation tank to create alcohol as well as leave some residual sweetness in peach wine.
At his suggestion, I added 3 lbs. of sugar to my first batch of peach wine. The champagne yeast I use has a high tolerance to alcohol. I did not measure the specific gravity but I would say that the wine was both sweet and highly alcoholic. You’re likely to get into trouble if you don’t pay attention and realize that the bottle is empty.
This is why I have listed the sugar range in this recipe as 2lbs to 3lbs. I usually make fruit wine with 2 to 2.5 pounds of sugar per gallon. Peaches are sweet. If you want a balanced wine, two pounds of sugar should do the trick. It won’t be too sweet and you can add more sugar if it is too dry.
The pulp that was left after I had juiced and added sugar to the peaches was so finely ground, I threw it in the fermenter. I didn’t waste the peach flavor but it was a bad idea. The pulp floated to top once the peach wine started fermenting. It looked like it was pulverized at first, but it soon formed a dense layer on top of the fermenter. The next time I will only add the sugar-extracted juice, and not the peach pulp.
It worked perfectly for me and the peach pulp didn’t clog up the water lock or cause a mess. It was a good size headspace and I used a sterilized tool to push the peach pieces down. There was no problem, but next time I will still filter out the pulp.
This peach wine recipe uses the same yeast I use to make my small-batch meets. It is Premier Blanc Wine Yeast, which was formerly called champagne yeast. It is a yeast with a high tolerance to alcohol and creates tiny bubbles like champagne. This type of yeast can be used to restart sluggish fermenting wine.
You can use any wine yeast you like, just make sure that it is dissolved in water for at least 5-10 minutes and then added to the base of the peach wine. The yeast is hibernating, and putting them into a sugary mixture before allowing them time to rehydrate them can shock them.
I like to use the ingredients I already have in my pantry and kitchen when I make wine. I stay away from yeast energizers as well as acid blends and tannin powders. Lemon juice is my acid. I add a few grape leaves or currant leaves to the mixture for tannin. A black tea bag will also work. I prefer to let my wine ferment and then carbonate a little in the bottle rather than finish the fermentation with Camden Tablets.