By popular demand, here’s the recipe for oak leaf wine with a few pictures of the process.
That’s right, I said Oak Leaf. Wine from America’s National Tree. When Clay heard we could make wine from leaves, he actually got angry. He’s spent decades playing the chump, buying wine from the store, fancy-schmancy vintners dictating taste. Well, no longer! Read and liberate yourself!
Well, maybe that’s a bit militant, but making wine from something that is so abundant (and free) is empowering. Bonus: it’s loads of fun and very tasty.
Here’s a recipe I adapted from one I found on the Jack Keller’s quintessential wine making website which was first adapted from C.J.J. Berry’s 130 New Winemaking Recipes. This makes a one gallon recipe. You can scale this recipe up; anywhere from two to five gallons. Just keep the same ratio for the leaves, fruit and water. You can keep the same ratio for the sugar, too, but this makes a very sweet wine. When I made my 5-gallon batch, I left out approximately ½ pound of sugar from the ratio. You only need one packet of yeast for one to five gallons. I prefer Red Star Montrachet yeast. You can find this at your local winemaking store.
OAK LEAF WINE
- 7 pt. new oak leaves
- 3 lb. granulated sugar
- 2 oranges, juiced
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 gallon water
- wine yeast and nutrient
Pick enough green oak leaves (can be young or old, as long as they are not brown) to fill 7 pints. It doesn’t have to be exact, but err on the side of excess. Wash the leaves in clean cold water, picking out any branches or debris and place in a crock or bucket.
Bring 6 pints water to boil and pour over the leaves. Cover and allow to seep for 24 hours. Then smell it. I think this “tea” smells fabulous, a golden sunshine smell that will make you smile. Then strain the liquid into a pot large enough to take it and the sugar with a little room to spare.Add the sugar, the juice of the oranges and lemon, and their grated peel. Again, don’t worry about being exact, I am lazy about the grated peel adding only half to the mix. Stir well to dissolve sugar, bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes. Allow to cool to 70 degrees F. This will take a long time for bigger batches, so don’t start the process at 6 p.m. (like I did).
Strain through nylon sieve, and add remaining ingredients. Transfer to secondary fermentation vessel and fit fermentation trap. Do not top up with water, as the initial four or five days should produce a vigorous fermentation foam. When this has subsided, top up with water and continue fermentation until wine clears (2-3 months). Rack, then rack again after two months and bottle.
Allow six months to one year. We call ours Wood Nymph Wine. I can’t tell you what properly aged oak leaf wine tastes like, as ours have not made it to the ripe old age of 1 year. It’s just too good.