One of the most rewarding wines I’ve ever made was a sweet cherry wine. In general, cherry wine tends to be rich and robust in its overall character. The tartness is mellow from the malic acid that dominates the cherry family. The tannins are firm giving the wines made with it a wonderful structure and body.
The one I made a couple of years ago from the sweet cherry wine recipe below turned out exceptional. It took a few months to age, but once it came around, turns out, it was well worth the wait.
The cherry flavor came through nice and fruity and lingered into a rich, earthy aftertaste. It had layers of flavor that you do not always expect in a fruit wine. Some of this I attribute to the brown sugar called for in this wine recipe. Some of it I attribute to the fruit acids. The Lalvin RC-212 that was used in this cherry wine recipe could have helped out in this department, as well.
Since spring is here it won’t be long before cherries will be in full-swing, so I thought this would be a great time to share it on the blog. The cherries you use can make a difference. As its name implies, you want to be sure to use sweet cherries as opposed to sour cherries. According to my notes, I used a mix of Bing and Lambert cherries, but there are many other varieties of cherries that I’m sure would work.
Sweet Cherry Wine Recipe
(Makes 5 Gallons)
18 lbs. Sweet Cherries (pitted)
9 lbs. Cane Sugar
3 lbs. Brown Sugar
1 tbsp. Yeast Energizer
Pectic Enzyme (as directed on the package)
2-1/2 tsp. Tartaric Acid
2-1/2 tsp. Citric Acid
1 Packet Lalvin RC-212 Wine Yeast
10 Campden Tablets (5 before fermentation, 5 before bottling)
This is a fairly straightforward sweet cherry wine recipe, so for the most part all you need to do is following the basic 7 wine making steps on our website. The only thing different that you should take note of is that the cherries need to be pitted. You do not want the pits in with the fermentation. Also, you do not want to over process the cherries. This can cause the wine to be too bitter. Cutting the cherries in half as you pit them is sufficient. If you are using a cherry pitter, all you need to do is lightly crush the cherries after they are pitted.
I also like to pre-dissolve the brown sugar whenever it’s called for in any wine recipe. This can easily be done by taking 2-parts water and 1-part brown sugar and heating it on the stove until liquid. You will need to stir continuously at first so that the sugar does not burn on the bottom of the pan.
Even if you only make 2 or 3 batches of wine each year, I would urge you to give the sweet cherry wine recipe a go. It makes a remarkable wine that it hard not to like. It’s also pretty easy to make. And as always, you can make it as sweet or as dry as you like, by back-sweetening the wine to taste.
Happy Wine Making,
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.