Custom Wine Label – 2012 Dragon Blood Wine

Shame on me, I forgot to show you the beautiful custom wine label on my homemade Dragon Blood wine. I chose the Dragon Breath label design at Noontime Labels.

custom wine label homemade wine

Full disclosure: Mr. Scribbles is also David Noone, owner of Noontime Labels. And if you visit the Noontime Blog, Facebook page, or Twitter feed, I’m Mrs. Noontime over there. Feel free to connect Noontime Labels on those sites, too!

So yes, this is a shameless plug for the business, in addition to showing off my finished wine.

But isn’t it a gorgeous label? It really shows off the raspberry color of the wine. I’m very happy with how it turned out.

personalized wine label dragon blood

Mr. Scribbles (Mr. Noontime) made two different versions of the label for me, and I can’t decide which one I like better. I’m leaning toward the one on the empty bottle, with the square background. Mr. Scribbles prefers the one with the horizontal band in the background (next to the bottle of homemade Pinot Noir).

Which one do you like? Let me know in the comments.

By the way, if you like the label on the bottle of Pinot Noir, it’s the Autumn View wine label.

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Updates: Homemade Pineapple, Sweet Potato, Banana Wines

Yesterday, Mr. Scribbles and I spent the afternoon tasting and sweetening three of our wines in progress.

Homemade Wine in Carboys

Left to Right: Pineapple, Sweet Potato, Banana Wines

Here’s our process for back-sweetening wine:

1. Pour a sample of wine.
2. Sniff.
3. Taste a sip.
4. Sniff and taste again.
5. Sweeten just a bit.
6. Stir. Sniff. Taste again. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
7. When you think you’ve got it, taste the sweetened wine sample and the original (that you happened to hold on to). Compare them, make note of how much better it is now, and comment on your winemaking brilliance.

For productivity’s sake, I DO NOT recommend that you taste and sweeten multiple homemade wines in one afternoon on an empty stomach.

It’s all fun and games when you’re adjusting the flavor of just one wine. But by the time you’re done with multiple tastings of the second and third, you’ve drunk a lot more than you thought you would. A lot more. And then you’re too buzzed to do much of anything else that day.

Trust me, eat a meal first.

Pineapple Wine Update, 7/27/13

This wine had fermented to dry and had been stabilized already.

pineapple simple syrup

pineapple simple syrup

I made a simple syrup of 2 cups pineapple juice and 2 cups sugar, and stirred until they were completely blended.

Then I removed approximately 2 cups of pineapple wine from the carboy into a sanitized container, so I would have room to add the syrup and stir.

Adding the syrup 1 cup at a time, I mixed it thoroughly into the wine and tasted, until it was just about, but not quite, as sweet as I wanted.

Before topping up, I added teaspoons of bentonite that had been dissolved in ¾ cup of warm water, to clear the wine. My friend Jason recommended bentonite to clear fruit wines completely, so I’m giving it a try. (Thanks, Jason!)

homemade pineapple wine in glass

Pineapple Wine

Then I topped up with the reserved unsweetened pineapple wine. Once the wine clears, it will be ready to bottle.

Tasting notes: A delicate color, like light straw. This wine has a fruity bouquet and an interesting smoky aroma, though no oak was added. It’s semi-sweet and has just a hint of pineapple flavor on the palate. It’s already pleasant, and I think it will age nicely.

Sweet Potato Wine Update, 7/27/13

This wine had fermented to dry at SG .998, and had been stabilized.

homemade sweet potato wine in carboy

Sweet Potato Wine

I decided I wanted just a hint of sweetness. So I made a simple syrup from 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar, mixed well until all of the sugar was dissolved. Following the procedure above, I took some wine out of the carboy and added syrup until the wine tasted right. Then I added bentonite dissolved in water like above, and topped with the remainder of the unsweetened wine. Once it clears, it will be ready to bottle.

homemade sweet potato wine in glass

Sweet Potato Wine

Tasting notes: A rich, honey color. Fruity, floral, a hint of sweetness, and faint vegetal notes. Semi-sweet and already drinkable, in my opinion. This wine is going to be amazing!

Banana Wine Update, 7/27/13

This is Mr. Scribbles’ wine, so he was in charge of the tasting. It had fermented to dry (SG .994) and had was racked off the lees almost 2 months ago. But because it was stabilized the day before, we’ll be keeping an eye on it to make sure fermentation doesn’t start up again.

He followed the same procedure as above, and used the water/sugar simple syrup to lightly sweeten the wine. To clear it, he took ½ cup of the wine, warmed it slightly, and added 1 teaspoon of bentonite to it. He then added this mixture to the carboy and topped it with the remaining banana wine. It will be ready to bottle after it clears.

homemade banana wine in glass

Banana Wine

Tasting notes: Straw color. Intensely fruity nose, definite banana on the palate. Semi-dry, but just sweet enough to really bring out the banana flavor. This is going to be another nice one.

To find out more about each of these wines, read my winemaking notes here:

Homemade Pineapple Wine
Homemade Sweet Potato Wine
Homemade Banana Wine

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Homemade Pineapple Wine

I was looking for an easy wine with inexpensive ingredients. It also had to be ready to drink fairly quickly, though I do want to age most of it. When I found a recipe for homemade pineapple wine, I knew it was exactly what I wanted.

I used Libby’s 100% juice, because it was the only one I could find locally that was only pineapple juice concentrate, water, and Vitamin C, with no other weird ingredients. I also decided not to add any fruit because I didn’t want to deal with the mess after fermentation. Yes, this is a lazy wine.

This is a 6 gallon batch of wine, started on 6/1/13.

Place four 64oz containers of pineapple juice in a sanitized fermenter bucket, for a total of 2 gallons of juice. Add enough sugar and water to get to your desired Specific Gravity, for a total of six gallons of liquid. Be sure to stir thoroughly after each addition of sugar, before you measure the SG. Honestly, I didn’t keep track of the sugar I added. I just started with “some” and kept adding “more” until the SG was right.

Starting SG was 1.082. Room temperature was 79 degrees Fahrenheit.

Stir in:
3 teaspoons pectic enzyme
3 teaspoons yeast nutrient
1.5 tsp powdered wine tannin

Sprinkle on top:
1 package Red Star Champagne yeast

6/2/13 – the next day, fermentation had begun but was slow. I added another 3 teaspoons of yeast nutrient.

6/5/13 – SG was .990, so I racked the wine into a carboy and placed an airlock on it.

6/9/13 – added ¼ teaspoon K-Meta.

6/18/13 – topped it with Viognier. I love the floral notes on Viognier, and wanted to add that to the pineapple aroma. Viognier is my new favorite wine to top up whatever I’m making (yes, even reds).

6/30/13 – vacuum degassed. Mr. Scribbles took a video of the process. You can watch it here:

7/7/13 – racked the wine off of the fine lees and stabilized it with another ¼ teaspoon of K-Meta, plus 1½ teaspoon of potassium sorbate.

As of this writing, the pineapple wine needs to be back-sweetened, adjusted for acid (if necessary), fined, and then bottled. I’ll update you as these things get done.

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Homemade Banana Wine

Bananas are quite possibly Mr. Scribbles’ favorite food. So why wouldn’t he want to ferment them into a wine?

Three gallon batch, begun May 26, 2013.bananas

Peel and puree about 13 lbs of very ripe bananas, or 45 bananas. Place the puree in a nylon bag in a large fermenter bucket.

Puree 45 oz of golden raisins, and add to the bag with the bananas.

Add 2.25 teaspoons of citric acid, 3 teaspoons of pectinase, and 2 lbs of sugar.

Take another 5 very ripe bananas and wash them, and cut off the ends and discard. Puree them with the skins on, and add to the bucket. Add water to just under the 4 gallon mark (you’ll lose a lot when you rack the first time).

Stir, cover, and let sit overnight.

5/17/13 – The must had an SG of 1.104, and a potential ABV (alcohol by volume) of 14%.  Mr. Scribbles didn’t want his banana wine to be that alcoholic, so he added water until the SG was 1.080, which put the ABV at around 11%. Then he added one packet of Lalvin 71B yeast and 1 tsp yeast nutrient.

homemade banana wine in carboy

homemade banana wine in carboy

5/29/13 – The wine had an SG of 1.000, so he racked it into a 3 gallon carboy plus a 1.5 liter bottle. He also added K-Meta, ¼ tsp, though it should have been 1/8, since he’s only making a 3 gallon batch. So he made a note not to add any sulfite the next time he racked.

6/7/13 – The wine had cleared nicely and was a beautiful yellow hue. Racked again to get it off of the fine lese, and topped it up with what was in the 1.5 L bottle.

As of this writing on 7/20/13, the banana wine still needs to be degassed, have the acid adjusted, be sweetened to taste, stabilized, and fined.

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Homemade Sweet Potato Wine Recipe

Why sweet potato wine? Well, why not sweet potato wine?

In addition to grapes and various fruits, i.e. strawberries, blackberries, apple, mango, etc., it seems you can ferment just about anything and make an alcoholic substance out of it. I’ve read a lot of recipes using rose petals, dandelion flowers, prickly pear cactus, pea pods, onions, and other various vegetables.

I love sweet potatoes, and they have a rich, earthy, yet sweet flavor. Why wouldn’t they make a good wine?

After I first got it in my head to ferment sweet potatoes, I did a little digging on the InterWebs. There are several recipes available, including this one from Jack Keller’s site. In addition, I found several message board threads about sweet potato wine on various home winemaking forums. One particular forum poster, who I gather has made many gallons of the stuff, claims it tastes a bit like a white muscadine wine.

That sealed it for me. I LOVE white muscadine wine! I decided right then and there that I was gonna make me some sweet potato wine.

This is a five gallon batch. I chose to make that amount because basically, that’s the only size carboy I had free at the time. My steps are based on Jack Keller’s recipe for a one gallon batch. You can scale everything up or down as needed.

Warning: processing the sweet potatoes takes a long time. A loooooong time. Don’t be a hero and say you’ll do it all yourself; accept any help that’s offered. You’ll also have a lot of cooked sweet potatoes left over. You may want to plan in advance what you’ll be doing with them. (They freeze well.)

5/25/13 – The beginning.

thirty pounds of sweet potatoe

30 lbs of sweet potatoes

Peel 30 lbs of sweet potatoes. Yes, THIRTY POUNDS. Also known as “every sweet potato in the grocery store.” Coarsely chop them using the blade in your food processor, or finely dice by hand. Put the chopped sweet potatoes in a large pot, working in batches if you have to. Cover with water, bring to a boil, and simmer until tender, 15 to 20 minutes or so.

cooking sweet potatoes

cooking sweet potatoes

When tender, strain the liquid out of the potatoes into your fermenter bucket. I used a sieve and pressed out as much liquid as possible to extract as much flavor as I could. You’re now done with the sweet potatoes, and can set them aside for another use (like pie).

Chop 5 lbs of raisins in the food processor, add to a mesh bag, and add to your bucket.

Add 2.5 lbs of sugar and 2.5 teaspoons of pectic enzyme to the bucket and stir well. Add water to 5 gallons, cover, and let sit overnight.

5/26/13 – The next day.

I decided to shoot for an alcohol content of 11-12%, so I added sugar (and stirred) until I got my SG up to 1.082.

Add 5 teaspoons of yeast nutrient and stir well.

Add 1 packet of Lalvin D47 yeast, cover the fermenter, and walk away. I chose D47 because it’s good for blush and dry white wines, and is supposed to help preserve fruity notes. I’m hoping there will be some sweet potato left on the nose when the wine is done.

5/28/13 – Racking.

Yeah, this one went fast. It had already fermented to an SG of 1.006, so I squeezed the liquid out of the raisins and racked to a carboy.

sweet potato wine in carboy

sweet potato wine in carboy

6/18/13 – Fermentation dying down. Topped up with Viognier, because I love the floral notes. Viognier is my new favorite wine for topping up anything I’m making.

6/30/13 – Vacuum degassed the wine.

7/7/13 – Racked and stabilized the wine with ¼ teaspoon K-Meta and 1¼ teaspoon potassium sorbate.

As of this writing, the wine still needs to be fined and backsweetened, and of course, bottled. But none of that is happening for a while…


7/27/13 – With an SG of .998, I decided to backsweeten to taste with 1 cup of simple syrup. My goal was just a hint of sweetness, not a dessert wine. I think I hit it perfectly. (Your mileage may vary.) I also added 2 tsp of bentonite in 3/4 cup water to clear it.

9/22/13 – Racked again, and topped with Viognier.

9/30/13 – Tasted, and added acid blend to taste. In my case, it took 3 tsp of acid blend to brighten the flavor of 5 gallons of wine. Again, YMMV.

10/16/13 – Bottled (26 bottles total).

As of December 2013, we’ve opened 4 bottles and shared them with many friends. The nearly unanimous verdict is that this wine is GREAT! It has a beautiful color and aroma, and fruity, floral taste. Just a hint of sweet and tart rounds out the experience. In my opinion, it doesn’t really taste like white muscadine at all, but that may be because mine is semi-dry.

Verdict: I’m definitely making this one again soon. I’m also seriously considering entering it into the International Amateur Wine Competition in June 2014.

Posted in Beginning Winemaking Information, Notes, Other Wine, Winemaking Ingredients | Tagged , , | 4 Comments