Pumpkins have been grown in North America for roughly 5,000 years — hence, the short-lived, but annual, obsession with this fall fruit (yes, pumpkins are, in fact, fruits). Furthermore, pumpkins are one of the largest fruits on earth, the largest pumpkin on record weighing in at 2,702 pounds.
Though the excitement for pumpkin spice tends to lessen each year as winter’s end looms, in early fall, practically anything goes that is flavored with pumpkin spice — even wine. Below is an easy recipe for making your own pumpkin spice wine.
What you’ll need:
8 cups pumpkin 1 4-inch cinnamon stick 1 whole nutmeg
1 inch fresh ginger root 1 gallon (boiling) water 1 tsp yeast nutrient
5 cups sugar 3 tsp acid blend 1 package wine yeast
1 pound golden raisins
For the first ferment:
Wash, trim, peel, and chop/grind the pumpkin and mix it with raisins. Add spices. Add boiling water and ferment in a large crock (primary fermenter) overnight. Then add all remaining ingredients (except yeast). Don’t skip the acid blend because pumpkins are low in acid, and they need this for proper fermentation.
Stir well to ensure the sugar dissolves completely. Using a hydrometer, ensure the specific gravity ranges between 1.090 and 1.095. Sprinkle the yeast over the mixture. Stir daily for three to five days until the specific gravity is 1.040. The mixture should get bubbly and have a pleasant aroma that is mildly yeasty. At the end of the first ferment, the pumpkin should have a mushy consistency, and the raisins should be nice and plump.
At this point, you’ll want to strain the “mush” and raisins using cheesecloth or an unbleached coffee filter. Squeeze as much juice out as possible. This is an important step because when not strained properly, leftover sediment in your wine can produce an undesirable texture.
For the second ferment:
Siphon the pumpkin wine into your secondary fermenter. Fill with water to volume and lock it in airtight with an airlock attachment. Your wine will look very cloudy at this point.
For the final aging:
After three weeks, rack your wine — transfer it into another fermenter or out of the fermenter long enough to clean out the sediment in the original). This removes the good wine from the bad sediment. Sediment can alter flavors in the fermenting process, so it’s a good practice to purify your wine often during the aging process.
Once your wine is removed from the fermenter, add ½ cup sugar and dissolve it in one cup of your wine mixture. Do this each time you rack your wine. Stir the wine gently and place it back into the secondary fermenter in the same manner as above. Do this process every six weeks until adding sugar does not restart fermentation. Then rack every three months until the wine is one year old before bottling. The wine should look clear now with the particles settled at the bottom.
Refrain from drinking your wine for one year from the first fermentation. The longer it ferments, the better, and this will ensure a sweeter-tasting pumpkin wine. If you start now, your wine should be just right by this time next year, just in time for fall! While you wait for your wine to ferment entirely, you can stop by the store to pick up a bottle that’s ready to go or place an order online.