Homemade Pumpkin Wine Recipe
As the evenings grow longer, leaves redder, and the air chillier, pumpkins become an increasingly common ingredient in homecooked meals. But how about using this fruit (yes – technically, pumpkins are not vegetables!) for winemaking?
We tend to think of pumpkins as treats that taste best with spices – particularly cinnamon and ginger, like in a pumpkin spice latte. Our pumpkin spice wine recipe makes great use of these seasonings, producing a distinctive taste, guaranteed to make you reminisce about all things fall.
With our easy pumpkin wine recipe, even wine-making novices will be enjoying this spicy, homemade drink with very little effort.
Making pumpkin wine requires the same equipment as most other fruit-based wines. While there’s no need for any highly specialist equipment, there are a few winemaking items you’ll need to gather. To try this pumpkin wine recipe at home, you’ll need:
- 1 primary fermentation vessel – this could be a winemaking bucket, a large crock, or any other non-reactive, food-safe container that’s not airtight. Non-reactive in this context means stainless steel, glass, or enamelware. The vessel should hold at least 2 gallons.
- 2 glass demijohns with a fitted airlock and bung (1 gallon) – during the racking process, we’ll be transferring the wine between the demijohns to leave the fermentation sediment behind and help the wine to clear. If you only have one demijohn, you can still make do – you’ll need to siphon the liquid into a sterilized container, clean the demijohn, and pour the liquid back in.
- funnel covered with a clean cloth – for straining the liquid.
- siphon tube for transferring the liquid between containers (racking).
- glass bottles to store the pumpkin wine.
For one gallon of homemade pumpkin wine:
- 2 lbs pumpkin (flesh only)
- 1 lb golden raisins
- 2 ½ lbs granulated sugar
- 1 inch ginger root
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 packet wine yeast
- 1 tsp yeast nutrient
- 3 tsp acid blend
- 1 Campden tablet
- 1 gallon water
How to make Pumpkin Wine
1. Mixing the ingredients
Start with preparing your pumpkin, by chopping the flesh into small pieces. To make this process quicker, you can shred (or grate) the fruit.
Place it in your primary vessel – i.e., saucepan, crock, or other suitable container and add the cinnamon and ginger (peeled and chopped or grated). If you don’t like either of these spices, you can safely omit them. They aren’t a crucial ingredient of this pumpkin wine recipe – they’re just added for taste.
Mince or chop the raisins and add them to the mix. The reason why raisins are necessary is that they will provide nutrition for the yeast and sustain it during the fermentation process. Pumpkins don’t have enough naturally-occurring sugars to nourish the yeast on its own. If you use golden raisins, there won’t be much of an impact on the light-orange color of the finished pumpkin wine.
Pour in a gallon of filtered water and the sugar, stirring to dissolve it and to combine the ingredients. Add the yeast nutrient, acid blend, and Campden tablet.
Yeast nutrient will, as the name implies, provide nutrition for the yeast, while acid blend is needed because pumpkins lack the necessary acids to facilitate an efficient fermentation process. The Campden tablet, meanwhile, effectively sterilizes the ingredients – removing any bacteria and wild yeasts that could ruin the fermentation process.
After adding all of the ingredients, cover the container and leave the mixture to stand for 12 hours in order to give the Campden tablet time to work.
2. Primary fermentation
Once the 12 hours are up, your soon-to-be homemade pumpkin wine is ready for primary fermentation. Stir in the yeast and cover the container, making sure that it is not airtight. If you haven’t got a suitable lid, cover it with a cloth that’s weighed down or held in place by a rubber band.
Primary fermentation should take up to five days, during which you should give it a stir once a day. You’ll know the mix is ready for the next stage when the fermentation process appears to have slowed down, with fewer bubbles forming.
3. Secondary fermentation and racking
The next step is straining the mixture, to keep only the liquid. The pumpkin will have disintegrated into a puree-like pulp, so using a strainer is pretty much out of the question. Instead, use a sterilized funnel covered with a clean cloth to separate the solids. Make sure you squeeze out all the liquid out of the raisins and fruit pulp.
Before siphoning the liquid into the demijohn, ensure you’ve sterilized your tube and vessel. Sterilization is necessary at every step, for every container and tool, since these can hold bacteria that would ruin the pumpkin wine.
For sterilizing the demijohn, you can simply use boiling water. Some people opt for a weak bleach solution instead.
Once your demijohn is perfectly clean, transfer the liquid into it, top up with water (boiled and cooled) and fit the airlock.
After three weeks, rack the pumpkin wine into a second, clean demijohn, taking care to leave the sediment (residue) behind. Repeat this process every three months for one year, by which time the wine will have cleared, stabilized, and become ready for bottling!
If you prefer a sweeter wine, add a small amount of sugar – about half a cup – during the first racking (at 3 weeks). Rack every six weeks adding sugar each time, until you observe that the fermentation does not restart when you add the sugar in. From then on, rack every three months for a year.
After a year of secondary fermentation, you wine should be ready for bottling at long last. Sterilize your bottles prior to use, and divide your pumpkin wine between them. Fit the cork (or cap) and leave to stand for several months.
Ideally, homemade pumpkin wine should remain bottled for at least one year before drinking. This gives the wine an optimum amount of time to mature and gain its body, resulting in a stronger, more defined taste.
And that’s it – now you know how to make your very own pumpkin spice wine. If you enjoyed this pumpkin wine recipe, there’s lots more where it came from – check out our other homemade fruit wine recipes and report back on your favorites!