So as an East Indian, it’s pretty normal for almost everyone I know to have their own recipe for how to make the traditional currant wine. And so do we!
Of course, over time, we’ve modified it a bit, replacing ingredients to make our homemade sweet port wine more flavorful, and wink wink strong!
I’ve had complaints from the cousins that my raisin wine makes them sleepy, lethargic, drowsy, aamlela, and so on. But that hasn’t stopped them from drinking it! 😉
Note: I say currant wine or raisin wine interchangeably because I use the same recipe for both these sweet wines. So whether you have access to raisins or currants, either will work, and your wine will turn out like a sweet port wine. If you want the recipe for a fruit wine, we’ve got the pineapple wine recipe up on the blog too.
Before we start with the recipe though, please note that here in Mumbai, we’re allowed to make wine or beer at home as long as it’s for personal consumption. Just remember to check the legal requirement in your state or country before attempting to make wine at home.
Ingredients for the Currant Wine or Raisin Wine
1 kg currants or raisins
*1.25 kgs sugar
120 grams whole wheat grains
*25 grams active dry yeast
4.5 litres water
4 or 4 cinnamon sticks – Optional
2 orange skins – Optional
Half teaspoon Baking Soda
*The traditional recipe uses 2 kgs of sugar for a kg of currants. But we don’t like too much sugar. So we use just 1.25 kgs. Of course, if you love a glass of super-sweet wine, feel free to stick to the 2 kgs of sugar.
*If you’re using Indian yeast, you’ll need 25 grams, but if you’re using foreign yeast such as Saf Levure or DCL, just 15 grams is good. Those little beasties are a lot stronger.
Steps to make the Currant Wine or Raisin Wine at home
Start by sterilising your spoon wine bucket or demijohn. Here in Bombay, we use these old ceramic jars that we call barnis. One barni, many barnis. We still have some from ages time.
So basically you’re washing your spoon bucket or barni with hot water to make sure it’s super clean. We use a wooden spoon, but you’re also okay with a steel or tough food-proof plastic spoon.
We also don’t use a hydrometer, but my friend says the alcohol content in our wines should be about 10 to 15%. That’s probably why the cousins feel sleepy. I plan on getting a hydrometer once the stores actually open up over here, but after years of making wine without measuring specific gravity, I wonder if I really need to.
If you plan on using a hydrometer, take your specific gravity readings just before you add in the yeast, and again after a week, and then at a few more intervals depending on how strong the wine is.
Start by adding 4.4 litres of water to your demijohn or bucket or barni. (Leave 100 ml out for proofing the yeast.) Also add in the 1 kg of currants or raisins, and 120 grams of whole wheat grains.
Measure out your 1.25 kgs of sugar and add most of it to the barni, leaving a few teaspoons aside for proofing the yeast.
Mix the teaspoonfuls of sugar with water and add the yeast to it. Stir and leave for 10 minutes. As soon as you add the yeast, it starts to bubble. This pic is from the beginning. After 10 minutes, the yeast is bubbling like crazy. I just forgot to take a pic. Will add it the next time we make wine. Once it’s bubbling, add the yeast to the barni or wine bucket and stir.
Now add in a few sticks of cinnamon and 2 orange skins, and leave it be. The cinnamon and orange skins are optional, but I like that hint of flavor that they add to the wine.
This is what the wine must looks like on the second day just before stirring. The raisins start to float because of the density of the must.
On the third day, more of the raisins have risen to the top.
On day 7, they’re losing color. And I love how the smell has started to get heady. Taste a bit of the wine and check if you need to add more sugar to make it stronger. Keep stirring daily for one more week.
After two weeks, there are quite a few things to do.
1. Strain the wine using a sieve or muslin cloth into a stainless steel vessel, and throw away all the solid waste.
2. If you don’t have an extra ceramic jar or barni or wine bucket, leave the wine in the stainless steel vessel/pot while you, wash out the wine bucket or demijohn or barni.
3. Taste a wee bit of the wine, or maybe a lot of it! (It’s safe to drink now.)
4. Pour the rest of the strained wine back into the demijohn or ceramic jar aka barni.
5. Add in half a teaspoon of baking soda and leave it alone for 1 to 2 weeks. The baking soda reduces the acidity, sterilizes the wine, kills off any remaining yeast, and also helps the dregs to settle. (The modern method is to use Campden tablets, but we don’t want to use chemicals. )
6. If you’re not worried about acidity and only want to settle the dregs and clarify the wine, your alternative options are using 1/4th of an egg white, or one gelatin sheet, eggshells, or a few drops of milk. (While adding the egg white, first take out a bit of the wine in a mug, stir in the 1/4th egg white here, and then add this wine back to the ceramic jar where you can leave it for 2 more weeks.)
7. After 2 weeks, bottle and serve to drink.
Well, technically, you should keep the bottles for a few weeks at least, till all the dregs have settled and the wine has clarified. At this stage, you change bottles and rack the wine again. But if you’re in a hurry, you can just drink it after step 4. Or share it with your friends and family for Christmas or Easter.
And that’s it! Strong currant wine is ready to drink. Like every East Indian, now comes the time to say Sukhala! Cheers to happiness!
Homemade Currant Wine or Raisin Wine Recipe
- Ceramic Jar or Wine Bucket or Demijohn
- Wooden Spoon (Or Stainless steel spoon or foodgrade plastic spoon)
- Sieve or muslin cloth
- 1 kg Currants (or Raisins)
- 1.25 kg Sugar
- 120 g Whole Wheat Grains (If you want the wine to be gluten free, use whole rice grains.)
- 25 g Active Dry Yeast (25 g Indian yeast, 15 g foreign yeast. See notes.)
- 4.5 l Water
- 4 Cinnamon sticks Optional
- 2 Orange skins Optional
- .5 tsp Baking Soda
Prepare Your Equipment
- Sterilize your jars, buckets or demijohns and spoons by washing with boiling water.
Proof The Yeast
- Warm about 100 ml of water and stir in 2 teaspoons of sugar. (Take this sugar out of your main sugar.)
- Add in the yeast and leave it aside for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, the yeast will be bubbling wildly and is ready to add to your wine bucket or ceramic jar.
Prepare The Wine Must
- While the yeast is proofing, you can put together the rest of the wine ingredients to prepare the wine must.
- Put 4.4 litres of water into the ceramic jar or barni or wine bucket.
- Add in the sugar and whole wheat or whole rice grains and stir well.
- Once the yeast has finished proofing, add it to this mixture and stir again.
- Lastly add in the cinnamon sticks and orange skins and stir gently.
- Cover with a lid and leave overnight.
- For the next 6 days, stir daily every morning.
- On the 7th day, test a bit of the wine and check if you need to add a bit more sugar to make it stronger.
- Continue stirring for 7 more days. (Total 14 so far.)
Strain and Rack the Wine
- On the 14th or 15th day, use a sieve or muslin cloth to strain the wine into another bucket or demijohn. (If you're using a ceramic jar, strain it into a stainless steel vessel, the wash out the ceramic jar and add the wine back to it.) This is what we do if we have multiple wines fermenting at a time and are running short of ceramic jars.
- Add half a teaspoon of baking soda to the wine mix and leave it be for another 14 days.
- After this second slot of 14 days (so that's 28 days in total), you can bottle and rack the wine.
- Of course, if you can't wait the extra 14 days for the dregs to settle, you can easily drink and serve the wine on the first Day 14 itself. Cheers! Or as we East indians say, Sukhaka!
*If you’re using Indian yeast brands such as Blue Bird or Crown, you’ll need 25 grams, but if you’re using foreign yeast such as Saf Levure or DCL, just 15 grams is good. Those little beasties are a lot stronger.