The Green Gift
No, not the jolly green giant but the bain of every Gardner or smallholder. The dreaded stinging nettle. The sun is shining and the nettles are thriving, time to put them to good use, stinging nettle wine. First things first, you will need to check you have the basics. A demijohn with airlock, a jam pan, incidentally, this pan is on offer at the moment with a saving of nearly £40. You will also require a brewing bucket with airlock. Wine tannin, yeast and last of all Yeast nutrient.
If you have read my previous posts you will know I like to keep things as simple as possible. I try to use the best ingredients available but above all else, I want to use ingredients that will give the very best finished wine, both in colour and taste. I guess the all-important bit of this wine would be the nettles. In our garden we have a fantastic blackberry bush, in amongst it, there is a mass of nettles. Now, I have been nurturing these nettles, resisting the urge to pull them up. I knew they would be my next wine. If you don’t have any in the garden, take a little walk. Almost all hedgerows have nettles, even the embankments of car parks have them. Try to pick just the tops, small leaves near the top are ok but avoid the big ones and any stalks as that will leave the wine very bitter. You will need to pick 2 litres of leaves/tops, believe me, you will have that in no time.
Pop to the supermarket or corner shop and buy 2 lemons, 1kg of sugar, now, I use golden granulated for nettle wine as it dissolves a little better. Using golden granulated also gives the finished wine a little darker colour. The colour isn’t everything I hear you say? Nettle wine made using bleached white sugar can often resemble the colour of wee. Its hard enough to convince people nettle wine is delicious without it looking like a bottle of wee.
10 grams of bruised ginger. If you don’t want to buy fresh ginger you could at a push substitute it with ground ginger, I personally wouldn’t do this as I have amply lumps of ginger. That’s it, simple. Four ingredients.
Let’s Get Brewing
Right, let’s start the brewing. Pour 3 litres of water into the pan and bring to the boil. Next, wash the nettle tops and leaves (nobody wants dog pee wine) Time to get the grater out now and grate the zest of two lemons. Add the zest add the nettles along with the bruised ginger to the now boiling water. Allow the nettles to boil for five minutes and reduce the heat and leave to simmer for a further thirty minutes.
Once the thirty minutes are up you need to add the juice from the lemons and add the sugar to a brewing bucket. Remove the pan from the hob and strain the liquid into the bucket. Stir to dissolve the sugar then pop the lid on and allow to cool. Once cooled, add the yeast, nutrient and tannin. Replace the lid and leave to ferment for five days, stirring every day. After five days, pour into the demijohn, fit the airlock and leave to ferment for around 2 months. Once bubbling stops, rack back into the bucket and then back to the demijohn once you have cleaned it. Bottle it and then leave for another four months.
Patience Is The Key
As per the title. I cannot stress enough, the key to this delicious wine is patience. After the initial six months, the wine is delicious. If you leave this wine for a further 6 months, It goes from delicious to stunning. consider making two batches, one for Christmas and one for next summer. Trust me when I say, you will not be disappointed. If you have any questions, please do ask away. All the links in this post will take you to the products you need. It costs you no more but gives me a very tiny commision to help cover the costs of the site. If you liked this post, why not take a look at plum wine