For centuries, wine connoisseurs have been learning how to make port wine. Back in 1678 when Britain declared war on France and blockaded French ports, brandy was added to Portuguese red wine to stabilize it for its shipment to England. By adding brandy the further natural fermentation is brought to a halt, which means that the wine remains sweet. The end result is a sweet red wine with about 20% alcohol ( table wine is usually about 13%). Ideally a good Port should have a high natural smooth sweetness, a great depth of color and a rich spicy flavor.
To make Port wine, you will need:
- 1 gallon can Red Grape Concentrate
- 12 lbs fine granulated sugar
- 5 gallons warm water
- 6 oz dried elderberries
- 16 oz dried, non-glazed, banana chips
- 2 tsp yeast energizer
- 3 oz acid blend
- 5 Campden tablets
- 1 package Port wine yeast
- 60 oz brandy
- Preparing the ingredients. Prepare the yeast starter three days in advance. Mix together the banana chips with the elderberries, grape concentrate, water, six pounds of sugar, yeast energizer, acid blend, and the crushed Campden tablets into a big container. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, cover well, and wait 24 hours.
- Adding the yeast. After the juice has rested for 24 hours, add the yeast starter. Stir gently until it has dissolved.
- Checking the right density of the wine. Use the hydrometer to measure the specific gravity (S.G.) or density of the wine. When it reaches the 1.040 value, draw off four to six cups of wine, slowly dissolve an additional three pounds of sugar into it and stir the result back in. When the S.G. reaches 1.030, strain out the elderberries and banana chips. Attach the air lock and check the S.G. daily until it reaches 1.010. At this point, draw off another four to six cups of the wine and slowly dissolve the remaining three pounds of sugar into it. Once the sugar has dissolved, gently add the wine back in the container with the rest of the wine.
- Draw off the wine as deposits form. Do not draw off the wine from its deposits more often that every three weeks. When no more deposits form, allow one month for wine to clear. If wine fails to clear, add a finning agent. Wait ten days, draw off the wine from its deposits one last time, sweeten to taste, then add 60 oz brandy to stop fermentation and bottle wine.
- Age one year before tasting or using for cooking. Set aside some of the port wine for cooking and leave the rest to age. After aging several years, more brandy can be added if required to bring the alcohol up to 20-22%.
You can make your own modifications to the recipe. Omit the fruit if you want a sharper taste or use dried apricots instead of the banana chips and elderberries if you prefer a smoother taste.