This weekend we indulged in our first haskap/honeyberry wine comparison taste test. Our friends, Al & Ruth Rasmussen, neighbors here at Bagley, MN, were happy to oblige.
After a simple supper from produce all off our farm – crock pot lamb roast, potatoes, green beans, and roast beets, we served a sweet desert wine made from elderberries. We like our elderberry wine, but what we were really waiting for was to find out which of our four varieties of haskap/honeyberries would produce the best tasting wine.
#1 Tundra: very smooth, good aftertaste, a good wine, not a sweet dessert wine
#2 Indigo Gem: very good as well, a lot of different flavors, more complex than any of the others
#3 Borealis: good, but not as good as Tundra and Indigo Gem (except one person really liked the extra fruity flavor)
#4 Czech #17 (Berry Smart Blue): 3 people did not like it at all. “Nope, not smooth. Bad aftertaste that grabs you right away. Violated my taste buds.” BUT one person liked it as much as Tundra. Go figure. This is the only pure Russian variety. The others all contain some Kuril Island genetics, closer to the Japanese varieties, which gets away from the strong and sometimes bitter characteristic of many Russian selections. The Russian varieties seem to be fine baking, jams & jellies, and we eat them fresh as well, but beware of the wine!
Mixture of all 4: Not as bad as Czech #17, some good flavors came through.
Conclusion: All of the University of Saskatchewan selections of haskap produced a very fine wine, appealing to the majority. As new varieties of haskap / honeyberries are coming out every year, most of them with some Japanese genetics, we presume they will turn out some great wines as well.
In glass gallon jar mix:
2 lbs 10 oz frozen berries (about 6 cups)
1 lb 12 oz sugar (evaporated cane sugar) (about 3 1/2 cups)
add enough cold water to fill the gallon jar
After a few days, remove the berries and drain, add the drained juice back to the container, and add 1/2 tsp Lalvin 71B yeast per gallon. Transfer into a jug which can be plugged with a topper to continue the fermentation process for 6-8 weeks prior to bottling.
We plan to “rack” the wine for a few weeks prior to bottling, which means transferring the wine from one jug to another, leaving the thick, cloudy “dregs” at the bottom.
The temperature for this batch hovered around 75F but was by no means constant.
Our first haskap wine making experience gave us enough confidence to continue on with larger batches in the future. We like to keep things simple, and discovered that simple worked just fine for us (see more at staircase winery procedures and observations). For more detailed/complicated info on making haskap wine see the University of Saskatchewan’s winemaking notes and Edible Blue Honeysuckle blog’s notes.
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