Watermelon Wine 1004

The best individual wine I have ever made is watermelon wine.

I started it in 2000 from a single watermelon grown from a seed originally planted by my son Phillip, who was 6 years old at the time, in the orchard between the Valencia orange tree and the Moorpark Apricot. That turned out to be the hottest spring in decades for this area.

The wine was bottled in February 2002 and was absolutely magnificent then. Of the six bottles we drank 3 with friends, gave 2 away to friends and promised to keep a bottle for Phillip on his 18th birthday which is now only 18 months away. I decided to check that all was well with the bottle recently. I have no idea how that original wine is holding or maturing but it is well sealed and will be an exciting taste test in October 2011.

I  did not make any other batches of watermelon wine since for various reasons but with a good crop of watermelons this year I have been inspired to make another batch.  The steps and recipes used for this batch can be seen below.

  1. Select the necessary watermelons. I picked 2 melons with a combined weight of 17.1 kg. You need 1kg of fruit to produce about 1litre of ‘must’ which approximates to 1litre of wine.
  2. Wash to fruit to clean off any dirt from the garden.
  3. Cut the flesh from the rind and chop roughly into bite sized pieces. Discard the rind. I do not remove the seeds and just throw it all into the primary fermenter which is a food grade 30litre bucket. Chop pieces as small as you like to release the juice. Some people use a juicer and others remove the seeds but I have never done that for melons (too fiddly) and have had great results.
  4. Add 2 campden tablets to stabilize the must, 1 teaspoon of yeast nutrient and 500g inverted sugar. Stand for 24 hours in a cool location (fridge if the weather is warm) to let the campden tablets kill any wild yeasts, although there won’t be much from fruit inside a rind such as the watermelon has. Stir a couple of times during the next 24hrs to make sure all wild yeasts are exposed to the campden tablets.
  5. Measure the Specific Gravity at this stage if you have a Hydrometer. SG (watermelon juice)=1.004.
  6. After 24 hrs add the prepared yeast and stir well. Cover loosely to prevent bugs entering but not so that gas cannot escape easily or you will have a volcanic eruption and a lot of mess.
  7. Ifthe reaction has backed off get a sterilized bucket and straining material. I use sterilized scrim curtain material for straining and have several pieces with varying coarseness for different materials. Use a fine one for watermelon. Pour the must from the primary fermenter through the sieve and allow to drip until the remaining solids hold no more liquid. Add 500g of inverted sugar and 1 tsp of yeast nutrient while still in the bucket then pour the strained must into a secondary fermenter, seal with an airlock properly set.
  8. AirlockVery soon you will see the airlock begin to bubble. If you have become impatient and set up the must in the secondary fermenter too early there will be a too vigorous fermentation which will blow out through the airlock. If that happens you will need to return the entire liquid volume to the primary fermenter, excluding the strained off fruit pulp, then wait another couple of days for the reaction to die back.
  9. I am updating this blog as I go with this wine so stay tuned and I will update each stage.
    Secondary Fermenter with Watermelon ‘must’ at 6 days.

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