Rhubarb Wine Recipe and Full Winemaking Instructions
Use fresh rhubarb and a few other ingredients to make this rhubarb wine recipe. The recipe makes six bottles of rhubarb wine and takes about three afternoons of active time to make. Includes tips on winemaking equipment, the full winemaking process, and a DIY video.
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Quite a few people think of rhubarb as strictly a springtime treat but if you grow it yourself you’ll know that you can be pulling stalks of it far into the summer. Even so, it’s a matter of time before you’re tired of eating rhubarb crumbles. When this happens, you know it’s time. Time to make homemade rhubarb wine. Rhubarb wine is my favorite homemade wine to make and I usually make it as a crisp yet sweet dessert wine. It’s a perfect way to enjoy the subtle taste of rhubarb in a delicious homemade drink.
Last year, I only made a single batch of this recipe and it turned out to be a real tragedy. A tragedy in that I didn’t make more! I’m planning on rectifying the situation this year so you can bet that every spare stalk of rhubarb is going to be saved for these bottles of boozy deliciousness. The wine is dry, and crisp, and has the full-bodied taste of rhubarb in every sip. The color will vary depending on how pink the rhubarb was that you made it with. Usually, rhubarb wine turns out as a clear white wine but it can sometimes even appear slightly amber when finished. Regardless of color, it’s absolutely divine and has impressed everyone who has tried it. Especially the skeptics.
What does Rhubarb Wine taste like?
Depending on how much sugar and tannin you use, rhubarb wine can be very dry and zingy to sweet and lemony. Either way, it’s fresh and summery and great for serving at late-summer gatherings. The lemony part of the flavor comes from the oxalic acid that’s naturally in rhubarb and is what gives it its kick. The tannin in the recipe is the perfect amount, in my opinion, and comes from adding a mug of strong black tea to the must. It gives the wine a gentle dryness. Lastly, the sweetness of the wine depends on how much sugar remains in it after fermentation is complete. I go through how to make your wine sweet or dry in the instructions below.
How to Make Rhubarb Wine
Everyone knows that wine contains alcohol, but how does it get inside? Traditional grape wine is made from grape juice, and you make rhubarb wine using sweet homemade rhubarb juice. After this point, yeast is introduced and it starts eating up the sugars. Alcohol is what the yeast produces as a by-product. Depending on the wine yeast you use, you can make rhubarb wine with anywhere from eleven to fifteen percent ABV. To know exactly how much is in your wine, you’ll need to use a hydrometer which I cover below.
There is a big difference between traditional wine that you buy from supermarkets and wineries and this recipe and it all comes down to the fruit. Wine, as most of us know it, is made with grape juice. Grapes have perfect balances of sugar, water, wild yeast, tannins, and other ingredients that make winemaking relatively simple. Country wines, like rhubarb wine, take a little more thought to replicate that ideal environment.
That’s because they don’t naturally have everything that yeast needs to thrive and ferment. Grapes truly are perfect for fermenting! So, to make wine with other fruits, we add things like commercial yeast, and ingredients to stop fermentation. Once you get the hang of it, though, you can make wine from practically any berry, fruit, edible flower, and even vegetable. Black currant wine is superb but so is parsnip wine, and elderflower wine.
Make Dry or Sweet Rhubarb Wine
What you’ll end up with at the end of making rhubarb wine is a clear and light yellow to golden wine. It’s a white wine that’s initially very dry, so if that’s your taste, you could leave it at that. That dryness comes from the alcohol content and the tannins from the tea. Basically, there’s no sugar left in it at the end and the crispness reflects that. Some people prefer dry white wine, and they can bottle it up at that time.
If you’re more of a fan of dessert wines, there’s an extra step that will transform dry rhubarb wine into sweet. You literally just add a bit more sugar and an extra ingredient that ensures that the yeast doesn’t come back to life and produces more alcohol. If you’d like to use honey to back-sweeten the wine, you can do that too. When you make your own wine, keep notes on the process, records of exact quantities, and hydrometer readings.
Using a Hydrometer
Although not necessary, a hydrometer is a great way to keep track of how sugary your wine is and how much alcohol it contains. A hydrometer is a long glass bobber that you place inside another tall container with a liquid. It tells you the specific density of the liquid inside compared to plain water. Water is measured at 1.0, and liquids that are heavier than water (such as sugar water or juice) are heavier than that. Alcohol is lighter than water so the measurement would be less than 1.0.
Knowing the specific gravity of your liquid can help troubleshoot any issues that you might encounter. If you take a reading both before (original gravity ‘OG’) and after fermentation (final gravity ‘FG’), you can also know how much alcohol is in your wine. The formula for this is (OG – FG) x 131.25 = ABV %
When I first started making wine, I stopped off at the local recycling center and asked if they had any demi-johns (carboys). From there I picked up piece by piece until my set was complete. There are a lot of things that you can use in winemaking that you already have in your kitchen cupboards. You can get other specialist equipment like airlocks, hydrometers, wine corks, and a corker from a winemaking supplier. If you’re lucky, you’ll have someone local. If not, there are plenty online.
Another thing that I get recycled for winemaking is the actual wine bottles. Cleaned and sterilized, many can be used indefinitely. Though some come with screw-on lids, it can be difficult to sanitize some of them of bacteria and other contaminants. Fortunately, you can purchase sterile wine corks that you can insert into the neck of any wine bottle using a corker.
Winemaking can get expensive if you get all the equipment at once. Consider it an investment though, since each bottle of wine you’ll eventually make will cost about a dollar in ingredients. One other tip I have is that you can save money by purchasing a beginner’s winemaking kit.
Sterilizing Winemaking Equipment
Sterilizing winemaking equipment and bottles is essential. If not done properly, you can introduce all kinds of nasties into your wine that will cause it to taste terrible or spoil. There are three ways to sterilize winemaking equipment, so choose the best way for the type of material the equipment is made of.
- Run it through the dishwasher. Though you will need to use a bottle-cleaning brush to get inside wine bottles and demi-johns.
- Glass and metal objects can be sterilized in the oven. Place them inside an oven preheated to 320-350°F (160-180°C), and leave them to heat through for thirty minutes. Turn the oven off and allow them to cool inside.
- Chemical sanitizers. There are many available at winemaking suppliers and the idea is that you dissolve it into a container, allow it to sit for around 5-10 minutes then drip dry. You need to do this immediately before using the vessel and I’ve used them before when using large fermentation vessels. For this recipe and the smaller demi-john, I just use the oven method.
Less Acidic Rhubarb Wine
Some people get upset stomachs from too much acid in food and drink and, for that reason, tend to stay away from white wines. If you’re the same, there are two things you can do to make this wine recipe gentler on your stomach. First off, use bright pink forced rhubarb. It’s lower in acid than summer rhubarb. Also, you may want to consider using a specialist wine yeast. Both Vintner’s Harvest MA33 and Lalvin 71B-1122 cut down on malic acid in wine and they may be of use in reducing oxalic acid. You can also make other rhubarb recipes such as these ones:
Rhubarb Wine Recipe
- 2 Plastic tubs
- Fermentation bucket optional as you can use one of the plastic tubs
- Hydrometer optional
- 1 Demi-john 5 liter/1.3 gallon – having two demi-johns is better
- Airlock with drilled bung
- 6 Wine bottles
- 6 Wine corks optional – you can use screw tops if you wish
- Corker optional – this is a tool that helps you to cork bottles
- 5 lbs Rhubarb 2.3 kg
- 3 lbs Sugar 1.4 kg
- 1¼ cups Black tea 285 ml
- 3 quarts Water 2.8 liters
- 2 tsp Yeast nutrient
- 1 sachet White wine yeast 5 g
For after fermentation
- 1 Campden tablet or 1 tsp Campden powder
To sweeten the wine
- ½ tsp Potassium sorbate
- 1 cup Sugar 200 g
Prepping the rhubarb
- Wash the rhubarb sticks and cut them into half-inch, or thinner slices. Place these pieces in a clean, sterilized tub and pour in the sugar. Stir it well, and then cover the tub with a clean towel or plastic wrap and leave for at least 24 hours but up to three days.
- After that time, the sugar will have pulled the moisture out of the rhubarb, creating a rich syrup.
- Bring four quarts of water to a boil, hold it there for five minutes, and then allow it to cool to lukewarm. While it's cooling, make a large mug of strong black tea and allow that to cool too.
- Pour the lukewarm water over the rhubarb and sugar. Stir well to dissolve any of the sugar at the bottom of the tub. Pour the liquid through a strainer* into another clean tub. Discard the rhubarb pieces (or use them to make rhubarb pie).
- Pour the tea into the rhubarb liquid.
- If you want to know exactly what percentage of alcohol your wine is at the end, take a reading with a hydrometer. This is optional but will give you a better idea of what your wine is like in the end. You'll probably get a reading of about 1.1.
- Next, add yeast* and yeast nutrient to the rhubarb liquid. Stir well then cover the tub with a clean towel and allow it to sit undisturbed at room temperature for five days. If you want to be more professional in this step, you can use a primary fermentation bucket with an airlock. Fermentation will be pretty violent in this stage though so it can get messy if the container doesn't have enough headspace.
- At the end of the five days, rack the liquid through a sterilized siphoning hose from the tub into your clean demi-john. The way I do it is to set the tub on a kitchen counter and the demi-john on the floor. Place one end of the siphoning tube in the tub, about halfway deep, then suck on the other end until the liquid begins coming through. Hold the end of the tube over the demi-john's opening so that it flows inside. You could put it inside too, but be careful to not let the tube touch the demi-john. There could be germs from your mouth at the end. Alternatively, you can use an auto-siphoning tube.
- As the liquid flows into the demi-john, adjust the hose in the tub so that it's able to get all the clean liquid out. Just ensure the tube doesn't suck up the mucky residue at the bottom of the tub. If a small amount gets in that's fine, but the less you get in the better.
- Fill the demi-john so that there's no less than an inch of headspace from the top of the rhubarb liquid to the bottom of the bung that you'll insert in the next step. You'll likely have less liquid than this at this stage, though.
- Once the rhubarb liquid is in, fit a drilled bung into the demi-john's opening. Next, pour a little boiled but cooled water into the airlock's chamber before inserting it into the drilled hole in the bung. This airlock will allow gas to escape but keeps air and potential contaminants from getting inside.
- Leave the wine to ferment in a place that's at least room temperature, if not warmer. A dark-to-dim place is also best, but I usually ferment wines in my bright kitchen and haven't had any issues. Light can potentially oxidize the wine, though.
- The temperature that the wine should be during its fermentation varies depending on the type of wine yeast you're using so look at the sachet for this information. A good way to ensure that the wine is at the correct temperature is to stick an LCD thermometer strip on the demi-john.
- When your wine gets fermenting, you'll know it by the blip, blip, blip, of the water in the airlock. Fermentation usually begins immediately but can take a few days to start. Keep an eye on the temperature of the room and be patient.
- It will take about three to six weeks for fermentation to complete. By this time, the airlock may only be releasing a bubble of gas every minute or so or none at all.
Aging the Rhubarb Wine
- Rack the wine from the demi-john into a clean tub using the siphoning hose. Like before, avoid sucking up the sludge at the bottom. It's basically the remains of yeast and will make your wine look and taste pretty bad.
- Add a crushed Campden tablet to it. Crush the tablet and mix it with a small amount of water then pour it into the wine. Campden tablets contain sodium or potassium metabisulfite which stops the fermenting process. It also stops mold and bacteria from growing in your wine and spoiling it during the aging process. Adding it is not optional.
- Pour or siphon the wine into a clean and sterilized demi-john. You can use the same one you've been using if you clean it, but a second one that's prepped and ready to go is even better.
- If the wine doesn't come up to the bottom of the demi-john's neck, top it up with simple sugar syrup*. Too much oxygen touching the wine during aging can adversely affect the flavor of the wine.
- Make sure to add the potassium sorbate at this point too, so that yeast doesn't come back from the dead, and start fermenting the sugar you've just added. Mix the powder with a small amount of water and pour it into the wine.
- Fit a closed bung in the demi-john's opening and then allow it to age for six months or longer. During this time it should be kept in a dark place at a constant cool temperature and the demi-john stored upright.
- After six months, the wine will be pale golden in color, and probably quite dry (unless you added sugar syrup).
To Sweeten the Rhubarb Wine
- Have a taste, and if the flavor of the wine is too dry for your liking, you can sweeten the wine with a rich simple sugar just before bottling it. This is an optional step.
- Dissolve 1 cup sugar in 1/2 cup of boiling water. Boil for a few minutes to evaporate a little of the water. Allow this strong simple sugar syrup to cool to room temperature.
- Rack the wine into a clean tub then add the sugar syrup and the potassium sorbate* and stir well. The sugar will sweeten the wine, and the potassium sorbate will ensure that the yeast doesn't rise from the dead to devour the sugar. If you leave the potassium sorbate out, your bottles of wine could eventually explode. Take another hydrometer reading if you'd like to work out the alcohol content
Rack the wine into bottles
- If you use the hydrometer to measure the liquid's specific density again, you can now work out the alcohol content. It's likely that you'll get around 0.998 in this second reading, making the wine about 13.39% alcohol (if your initial reading was 1.1). If you want to leave it this way, you can skip the next section.
- Siphon the wine into clean and sterilized wine bottles and cork. You could technically drink it immediately but it's better to let it age a month or longer.
I have a question: in your ingredients list it says to use 3 qts of water. But further down you say to boil 4 qts of water. Is one of those cups for making the black tea?
Hi Steve, you need three quarts for the recipe but when you’re preparing the water there will be water loss from evaporation and from being absorbed by the rhubarb. It’s always best to have a little extra than not enough. The liquid for the black tea is in addition to this amount.
Hello Tanya, I live in a semi-arid region of Australia (hot dry summers, cold and mostly dry winters) and in a house that basically has no insulation at all — so the temperature fluctuates greatly throughout the year. What would you consider to be ‘room temperature’, and do you have any tips for how to stabilise temperature for winemaking? Thank you! :)
Room temperature, as a standard, is around 68F/20C. In a warmer room, the wine will take less time to ferment but do refer to the temperatures given on the specific wine yeast packet that you use. As far as stabilising temperature, it will be challenging in a home with no insulation or air conditioning – I’m assuming that you don’t have it. Find the coolest place in the home and see if that works?
I’ve just put my wine into the demijohn to ferment but it’s very cloudy. Should I do something?
Hi Sue, it’s normal for the wine to be cloudy at that point. It only becomes clear as fermentation stops and the yeast settle at the bottom of the demi. It becomes clearer still during the aging process.
2nd fermentation just didn’t happen. I need to check the SG and go from there
Yes, check the specific gravity first. You might have had a very enthusiastic primary fermentation, or the wine got stuck.
So I started the process of making this rhubarb wine today and I’m wondering why the cup of black tea. What/ why would this be needed. Curious?
It’s for the tannin content in the tea. You can buy powdered tannin for winemaking but a cup of black tea does the same trick!
Hi, keen to try this as I have a glut of rhubarb.
The x1 recipe suggests this is x2 demijohns but at 5L
is that x2 5L demijohns or x2 totalling 5L
I saw a later reply of yours suggesting your 6 bottles is x1 5L demijohn so a wanted to clarify and b wanted to highlight the recipe might be out as it says 2 demijohns.
Hi Joanna, you only need one demi-john for this recipe. I edited the method some time ago and forgot to update the equipment quantity :)
Hi Tanya, I’ve been using your recipe for years, thank you. I’ve got one great tip, when you’ve chopped up all of your rhubarb, stick it in the freezer for about 24 hours, this in a way will kill any nasties and also helps it break down the rhubarb when adding the sugar.
Oooh I’ll try this with next year’s batch, it’s my second year of making it and I have a garden full of rhubarb, I did think of doing this but didn’t want to negatively affect it. Thank you ❤️
Can you please tell me if I can use red bush tea instead of black tea
Unfortunately, it wouldn’t work since red bush (rooibos) tea doesn’t have very much tannin in it.
Thank you Tanya
If you don’t have an airlock us a balloon punctured with a pin. The balloon expands and the hole opens. The balloon collapses when the fermentation finishes and seals the hole. You can also use large water bottles instead of demijohns. This was a favourite way of making in wine in certain countries where alcohol is banned.
When you say in step 1. Of the initial fermentation you say it is messy using a fermentation bucket. Is it a typo? Is it less messy using a fermentation bucket rather than a clean towel?
In step 1 of the fermentation stage, I mean that it’s less messy using a fermentation bucket. If you wanted to use a demi-john and airlock for primary fermentation it can get messy since fermentation is vigorous in that first stage. It can send wine right up through the airlock!
Thanks for your reply!
I have two demis on the go at the moment. One is just about ready to go into ageing =).
Finally able to drink this. I am a glass in its absolutely delicious. I did sweeten it. I can’t wait for this year’s to get started. Perfect recipe easy to follow, first time winemaking. Thank you ❤️
I have made rhubarb wine. Are use the similar recipe. I do not use any chemicals or preservatives. I have taken first second and third place at the state fair in Wisconsin. I have never used any preservatives or chemicals to finish my product or to control it. I do all my wines the old fashion way. But it does take me 12 to 14 months to make wine. So chemicals really are really an option. I do like looking at other peoples recipes to see how close all the recipes are and to get different ideas. I do know I am not using enough poundage of rhubarb per gallon. Thank you for taking time put your ideas on the Internet.
You are absolutely correct David, using stuff like Potassium metabisulfate (chemical preservatives) is optional in ALL winemaking. I personally never use the stuff, and, like you, prefer to do my winemaking the way our ancestors did. Sulfites are horrible for the body and as far as I’m concerned should be outlawed to use in anything edible. It’s not that difficult to keep your yeast from re-activating, as you know, it’s all about the temp.
I had to reply because it is refreshing to see someone that feels the way I do about making wine. There aren’t too many of us left out here, although, when you taste our wine, you’ll know you’ve found one.
Potassium metabisulfite ir sodium is completely safe and dissipates over time.
Hi David. Can you recommend resources to learn more ? I’m in Oshkosh Wisconsin if you know of any local workshops. Thanks !
We are making this wine at the moment it’s about to start it’s fermentation do I really need to leave it 6 months in demi jon after or can it be bottled and left for 6 months. Its the first time I’ve made rhubarb wine so not sure about the bottling thank you Anita
You could do either, or. It’s sometimes easier to just leave it in the demi at that point and letting any further sediment filter to the bottom though.
Thank you for your help. We’ve used 30lb of rhubarb so it would have been a bit tight on space as we are coming up to christmas. The mixture smells and looks lovely can’t wait to try it.
DP Wigley general store Racine WI. NIce place and people.
Hi there, thanks for your recipe. Thought I would share a tip with you Theres a product called Rohaven or Ropect used in wine making that preserves the beautiful pink colour of the rhubarb. Simply add the quantity recommended at the early stage when yeast is added into the bucket.
Looking forward to trying this ..
I just started my wine and I am wondering if I can put the rhubarb and water for 24 hours without the sugar then add the sugar. I have a old timers recipe and it seems very easy this way.
The sugar draws the rhubarb juice from the cut stems. It’s an important step!
Hi I did this step and after 3 days there was a few tiny spots of mould on it. I assume I have to start again ? I sterilised the bucket so I don’t know what happened
It will be pieces of rhubarb that have floated up to the surface. If it’s just a little, scoop it off quickly, or it will affect the flavor of the finished wine. I’d then strain the liquid from the solids (discard/compost solids) and keep an eye on it. If more mold does form, I’d start all over again. If not, carry on and it will likely be fine :)
One trick I have seen is to use the fact that the mold and other debris on the surface floats.
Add a simple syrup and pour in until the stuff on top pours over the edge. It’s a good way to remove contamination between rackings.
It’s messy, but could save the batch.
Hello, I am in the process of making this. My yeast nutrient has not arrived yet. I haven’t put the yeast in yet but I did put the water and tea in the sugar. Is there a substitute for yeast nutrient or is the syrup ok to sit for a day or two until I get the nutrient? Thanks
You should really assemble all the ingredients before you begin making the recipe. Yeast nutrient is necessary for country wines, like rhubarb wine, since it adds the vitamins, nitrogen, and minerals that yeast needs to survive.
I just bottled my batch of rhubarb wine using your recipe. It is delicious. Beautifully dry. Thanks so much.
This is my first time making rhubarb wine. I am curious why you boil 4 quarts of water then only put 3 in to dissolve the sugar. Is this to insure you have a full 3 quarts due to evaporation or what am I supposed to do with that other quart of water? I didn’t see anything in the instructions to use that additional quart for anything. Thanks in advance!
It’s to account for evaporation, making the cup of tea, and just to make sure there’s enough :) Sorry that wasn’t clear
I did 3x batch and I am at 3 gallons liquid which in the iniatal fermentation phase… how do I get 18 bottles out of this are the numbers off? I’m thinking I should have 6 gallons and their is a typo!!
Hi Molly, I only ever make this as a single demi-john. In that case, you can top your demi up with boiled and cooled water just before secondary fermentation to make up the difference (if you want). In the case of a full demi-john, you’ll get six bottles of wine from this recipe. I’m making a batch right now that I didn’t top up the amount and there’s a small gap at the top of the demi-john. I estimate that there would be about 5.5 bottles when secondary fermentation is finished. I’ll do things a little differently in this case, and add simple sugar syrup (1-pint water: 6 oz /170 g sugar) to top up the demi-john before the six-month aging. The yield will be the same at six bottles per batch.
I have used your rhubarb wine recipe and really like it, but don’t know if it’s fermenting as it should. I forgot to use the hydrometer before I added the yeast, but at the end of the first fermentation, it read about .998 I think which implies that fermentation has happened?? So i racked it off and put it in a glass jar with an airlock and it doesn’t seem to be bubbling at all. It never did bubble actually. I’m planning on just leaving it for a month and then re-racking it. Does that sound ok or should I do something else? Thanks for any tips.
Hi Heather, if you’ve not seen it bubble at all then it’s likely not fermented at all. I’d also check your hydrometer by floating it in pure water — if it reads 1.0 then it’s correct.
I’ve had the same happen to my wine.
Would I be able to double this recipe? If so, do I use the same amount of yeast and yeast nutrient?
You could double it, and but you could use just one packet of yeast if you wish. Double the nutrient though.
I’m doing 30 pounds of rhubarb. So roughly 6 gallons. Would I multiply my yeast nutrient by 6 as well ? So use 12 tsp ? Thank you
Yes, I’d definitely recommend adjusting the amount to match the batch size.
Hi, I’m 2 days into stage 1 of initial fermentation. I’m doing it in a fermentation bucket with airlock. It hasn’t bubbled once. I can see some foam on top of the liquid. But it’s not “messy” at all. Can you help?
Move it into a warmer part of the house and keep waiting. It sometimes takes time to get going again.
Thanks, so I’ve now racked the wine. The hydrometer reading is .990. it tastes ok (not great, not terrible). Again, no bubbling. Is it possible that it’s fermented incredibly quickly (within a few days)? According to the calculation you gave it’s approx 13% alcohol currently.
Wine rarely tastes great fresh so that’s not a great indicator. As for fermentation time, it’s possible but you’d have noticed bubbling.
I’m getting ready to start my first EVER batch of homemade wine. My Daughter moved into a new house that had four HUGE rhubarb plants and she has no idea what to do with them. I’ve made pie, sauce, and now going for wine! I’ve been reading all the comments and have a couple questions… One person asked ” I started making your rhubarb wine recipe…I doubled the recipe and am in day 2 of the fermenting process… So the next stage I siphon the liquid into a Demi-John and my question to you is what if the Demi-John is only half full, do I now add enough water to fill the Demi-John and wouldn’t that dilute the wine too much??? I’ve never made wine so I’m clueless…Thank, Laura”. I had the same question and didn’t see a reply. I’m wondering if you only have a five gallon demi and you end up with two gallons of juice, do you get a smaller demi or is it ok for there to be space in the demi? Surely I can’t see adding anything to it, at this point, would be a good idea. Is it ok if the demi isn’t full?
Next question is about step 8. Why do you rack it into a jug with a camden tab and then immediately rack it again into another Demi? Is there a reason you don’t just rack it from one demi to another? I see that racking it is a good way to continue to clarify the wine but going from demi to bucket, then back to demi, doesn’t seem to aid this clarifying if it’s all done without settling first.
Lastly, would there be any benefit to running the racked wine through a cheesecloth strainer, as you transfer it with the siphon? Wondering if you are just better off losing the little bit of left over sediment or should I try to get the most out of the transfer?
Thanks for all the info and I look forward to sending you my update reviews when it’s done.
Tom, many people starting out don’t have a lot of equipment. I had my primary bucket and one glass carboy, so naturally I had to empty the carboy back into the sanitized bucket, then clean and sanitize the carboy, then siphon back for further clearing.
If you already have a few glass carboys, there should be no issue with racking off the lees directly into another sanitized carboy.
I made this last year following your recipe exactly in order to use up the glut of home grown rhubarb I’d ended up with. The result was a very pale yellow, clear and very dry wine with a significant, and not all that pleasant, hazelnut taste. I used wilko wine yeast that I understand is a very powerful champagne style yeast. I have just harvested and sugared this years rhubarb to give it another go. Do you have any advice for me? Thank you. Chris.
A different wine yeast may be a good idea. Also, take specific gravity measurements with a hydrometer before and after you make the wine. It will tell you when the wine is finished and how much alcohol it contains. After fermentation, you can also sweeten it up with honey or sugar.
One question. Do you just sprinkle the yeast and yeast nutrient on top or do you mix in. The instructions weren’t clear but I’ve always sprinkled yeast on top. Not sure about the nutrient. New to wine making! Thanks.
Thanks for this recipe my 1 gallon has been sitting for about 5 months and ready to bottle. I would like to make some bottles sparkling wondering how much priming sugar for each bottle. Many thanks cheers Peter.
If you want to try making sparkling wine from this recipe, I advise you to decant into plastic bottles. Adding sugar syrup to wine to make it sparkling can be an inexact science and too much fizz makes glass bottles explode. I’d try a teaspoon of sugar syrup for each bottle but I’ve not tried it with this recipe before so I’m not 100% sure of what you’re results will be.
Thanks I will go with plastic bottles and let you know how they turn out
Hi I followed your recipe and transferred the wine into a demijohn for a month.it stopped fermenting after one day any advice would be appreciated.
I’m assuming that you meant you transfered it to the demi where it was supposed to be for a month. And that it only fermented for one day after that. There are a lot of things that could have happened and the best way to know is by using a hydrometer. It will tell you how much sugar is still in the liquid — more than 0.998 for a reading and what you have is a stuck fermentation and you need to get it started again. Less than that and your wine is finished and that can happen quickly in some cases. Just a few days sometimes.
I am doing this recipe at present, and I will be trying different fruit as summer comes.
This is more fun and satisfying than cider from a kit.
One thing to note is to take notes for comparison between batches.
Thanks for sharing and making this an easy process.
What a great gift idea :)
Followed recipe to the T. Turned out golden, crystal clear and dry (.998 sg); I added 1 cup sugar (after adding potassiim sorbate to stabilize) to bring up to 1.020 sg….now a delicious dessert wine! Nice simple recipe–thx! Dan
Meant to add my wine came in at 13% ABV. Dan
Thank you for this recipe…I made this last year and everyone loved it ,so i’m making it again.I’m sat here waiting for it to cool enough for the yeast to be added. This is the easiest no fuss recipe I’ve found and it works really well , last years batch was around %13 alcohol . You will always have friends when you brew your own wine lol. I cut the sugar back to just over two and a half pounds to give a dryer wine Thank you.. Alan Romsey UK .
Hi There, I too am making a larger batch. I cut up 20lbs of rhubarb which is sitting in sugar in a 5-gallon fermentation bucket I normally use for cidering. Because I normally cider, I’m nervous about the amount of sugar. So far I have 1/2 the amount which still seems like a lot. So 6lbs for 20lbs rhubarb. I guess what I’m wondering is if you can be more specific as to how sweet the finished wine will be based on your normal recipe? We always ferment all the sugar out of our cider for a very dry cider so I’m out of my element. I would prefer a not-very-sweet rhubarb wine if possible. Shall I go ahead and add the full amount? Cut back? I’m not looking for a syrupy sweet dessert wine. Maybe a somewhat sweet, great on the patio in the sunshine kind of wine. You know, right? :-) I was also going to run the sugar/rhubarb syrup through my juicer to extract all the remaining juice. I know I risk more cloud but we’re pretty good rackers. I guess I can measure the gravity at that point and go from there.
Remember that most of the initial sugar will be converted to alcohol so it will be dry without adding a little more. Wine generally has a lot more alcohol than cider so I imagine that’s why you’re feeling a bit unsure. Also, I’d highly recommend you make a smaller batch first. Just to make sure that you like it before investing in the bottles and ingredients.
Thank you for your reply. I’ll add some details for anyone that wants to make a larger batch and try to let you know how it turns out.
I made 4x the recipe because I am trying to use up 50+ lbs of rhubarb. I cut up 20 lbs and put in food grade fermentation bucket with 9 lbs sugar instead of 12 lbs because I was nervous. I waited 2 1/2 days and stirred a few times a day so no sugar was left at bottom. I poured off juice and put rhubarb through our juicer. I only got maybe another quart of juice that I had to run through a cheese cloth. Probably a very tight squeeze would have been fine instead. It wasn’t as sweet as I expected so I added the remaining 3 lbs sugar as your recipe stated so a full 12lbs.
I added tea and only had enough room left in my bucket for 11 quarts of water instead of 12. This is when I measured the gravity which was 1.09 or 12% future alcohol. I actually added sugar to raise it to 14% like a standard wine. Took 5 cups more. Ended with 1.14 gravity or 14%. If I had seen your comment about your gravity readings I may not have. Maybe add that to the recipe for those of us nerds that like readings? I added a package of champagne yeast only because it’s all I had. I like cote de blanc usually and would use that if I had it. It works well with fruit flavors like the quince wine and cider we like. Next time! Also added 6 tsp nutrient yeast. So now we cover for 5 days.
All this filled my 5-gallon fermenting bucket perfectly. We will ferment till we bottle in a bucket like this. It’s drilled for an airlock.
Very fun trying your recipe. Can’t wait to see how it turns out. Hope some of my comments are helpful for other bulk-makers. I just wanted to use what I had on hand. I’m hoping to add it with our bottles of cider for Christmas gifts. Thanks!
How many gallon Demi-John do you use
11L (2.9 gallons)
My yeast is setting ontop the mixture. This is day 1 of 5, is that normal?
I’m not sure what that means — is it bubbling? Is it the yeast granules?
Confused with how much water to add to rhubarb syrup. Recipes says 3 quarts but in step 2 say add 4 quarts?
Just making my first batch (5 gallons). Just wondering what your begining SG was and your final SG was prior to racking it into bottles?
Great thank you!
I just completed my first racking today with my SG at 1.02 down from 1.09. It must sweeten with time? Or do you back sweeten at some point? (I’m a newbie to wine making) My airlock is in over drive.
Do you happen to have a recipe or have done a sweet honey wine (mead)? I’d really like to do one but with so many recipes out there it’s a bit overwhelming. :-)
You can always sweeten your wine with honey or other sweeteners once fermentation is complete and all of the yeast is gone/removed. If you put it in before there’s a chance that it will be used by yeast to create more alcohol depending on which type of yeast you’re using and how far along your fermentation was to begin with.
I don’t have a recipe for mead of my own yet but I’ve been given many of them to try out. One of those things on the old To-Do list! I’d pass them on but I’m currently traveling. Good luck with your wine and happy fermenting!
Thank you for your advise. It’s looking great so far. I’m very excited for the end result. If you don’t mind I would love it if you could pass on the recipes for mead once your back from travels.
Thank you again for all the advise!
I racked my wine 1 week ago and fit the carboy with the airlock. The air lock was bubbling away at first but now its bubbles about every 1 minute and 30 seconds. how do i know when fermentation is complete? Thanks
I made your recipe last year and it turned out very dry, it was still good but not the “dessert wine” I was expecting. I probably messed up a step, although I thought I followed the recipe very closely. What is the final product supposed to look like? Is the final product sweet & thick like a dessert wine or something else? In step 8 should I be using a drilled cork with a air lock or a solid cork to create a seal? I let my batch sit for 6 months with the air lock on the demi john…could that be where I went wrong? Thanks
You should have bunged it up with an undrilled cork directly after the fermentation process ended. I’d be surprised that your wine wasn’t just dry but a bit acidic if it were left out that long with the airlock in. Also, add sugar at the end of the winemaking process to transform the wine from dry to sweet.
Thanks so much! I am looking forward to trying again!
Can you use the rhubarb pieces for a pie or other baked product. If seems like a shame to put it all in the composted. Is there any flavor left after you make the syrup?
I don’t see why not but most of the juice and flavour will be extracted for the wine. You could try though!
I have had similar leftovers after making rhubarb syrup and I just heated it up with a little apple juice and it made a really good sauce.
Oooh I bet it was yum!
How many U.S. gallons does this recipe make?
About a gallon
Great recipe! I never get enough rhubarb to try this so will have to go out and buy some *shudder*. Will definitely try this!
in step 8, you indicate to rack the mix into a clean tub and add the crushed Camden tablet.
Then to siphon it into a clean carboy and cork it.
How long do you wait after adding the tablet to siphon it into the carboy?
You do it immediately afterwards.
Hi Tanya, I started making your rhubarb wine recipe…I doubled the recipe and am in day 2 of the fermenting process… So the next stage I siphon the liquid into a Demi-John and my question to you is what if the Demi-John is only half full, do I now add enough water to fill the Demi-John and wouldn’t that dilute the wine too much??? I’ve never made wine so I’m clueless…Thank, Laura
Hello, what if some of the rhubarb pieces get spots of mold on it? Ours had some white and blue looking mold starting on some of the pieces. We have not left it sitting longer than you advised. we picked the moldy ones out, but is it safe to keep going with the process? Or is it wrecked and we should start over?
If in doubt, throw it out! I wouldn’t start any recipe with moldy vegetables or fruit and encourage you to start with fresher stock. Good luck!
I saw above you said if you were making five times the recipe you should multiply all ingredients by 5. Does that apply to the yeast, yeast nutrient and Campden Tablet? The yeast packet I bought says it is for 1 to 6 Gallons. Would 1 packet suffice? and what about for the other 2 ingredients?
I used to use a packet of yeast per demi-john of wine but now realise that a single packet is enough for large batches, providing that you use a single large container to ferment the wine into. I think the ratio here is 2-4 grams of yeast to a gallon of wine. The rule with campden tablets is one per every gallon of wine and the other ingredients just multiply upwards with the same ratio to whichever size batch you plan on making.
How strict are the time frames? Is the 5 day strict or can it be extended? I am giving 2 different recipes a try and comparing. Oh the joy of fermentation.
To be honest, it’s all dependent on temperatures and climate. It can take longer to ferment if your home/climate are cooler and shorter it’s warm. The best way to check if your wine is ready is to measure your wine’s ‘Specific Gravity’ with a Hydrometer.
Any suggestions on where to buy the wine making products? I have never made wine but I love rhubarb so I think I might give it a go.
If you’re in the USA, please click on the links in the post to purchase winemaking supplies.
Could you just use rhubarb juice? I have a juicer/steamer and juice a lot of rhubarb for jelly. This would enable me to skip the straining step. If so..how much do you think I would need.
Third year using this recipe. Turns out light and crisp every time. Last years batch is finishing clearing in the carboy. Snuck a taste and is excellent. Thanks for the recipe.
If I wanted to make five gallons, do I simply multiply all quantities by five?
I am just a little concerned about adding two and a half pints of strong tea and the effect it might have on the overall brew.
If you wanted to make five times this amount then yes, you multiply all quantities by five. This recipe makes 6x 750ml bottles which is just over a gallon. As for your concern over the tea, you will not taste a tea taste at all. The tannins in the tea are necessary to give the wine a bit of structure.
does the cloudiness go away? or stay? can I use boiled yeast as yeast nutrient and anyone know how much say for one gallon? Was this recipe for a one gallon carboy?
You use a lot of rhubarb in this recipe – 5lb as opposed to other recipes I've seen that only use 3lb. Is there a reason for this? Do you think it makes it a lot fuller bodied? I've started a batch according to your recipe, but I'm wondering whether to make 2 gallons from it and maybe add some grape juice concentrate to bulk it out.
You of course can use however much you'd like Andy but I like my wine to have a full rhubarb flavour. It's true that some recipes call for less but I stick with what I know creates a nice wine.
Found this recipe when we had a glut of Rhubarb at the end of the summer last year and have just bottled it, having a sneaky taste! Lovely – my hubby said it was like a good Sauvignon Blanc so looking forward to the Easter holidays when it'll have had a month or so to mature! Didn't even tast of Rhubarb!
Amazingly simple and good.
I've made a blend of Rhubarb wine and apple wine (50/50). After 1 month (wine-makers say that a wine has "bottle-disease" for a month), it had intresting rich taste, lovely to drink in the summer.
I don't use the tea to get body. It's not better, nor is it worse, it is different : that's the fun part of wine making.
What a great recipe! I have been looking at doing a rhubarb wine for a while. Will definitely give it a go
Has any one ever added currants black or red to rhubarb wine? I have currant bushes and have lots in storage, wondering if adding them will undermine the rhubarb and not sure what other changes i would need to make in the recipe, but if anyone has some advice that would be great!
The beauty of making your own wine is that you can experiment with whatever fruit you have at hand. Try your currants in the mix and who knows, you might have a winner :) PS- Currants have lots of Tannin so if you use them in this recipe, omit the black tea.
Have some going using a slightly different recipe this year (first attempt) but will give this one a go next time – the tea sounds a good alternative to the special grape concentrate I bought this time round. Does it need to be young rhubarb or can you use the larger stalks too (our rhubarab just grows like mad and is producing 2cm thick stalks in no time).
Any Rhubarb will do but younger and more tender will have less oxalic acid.
using your recipe, uses less additives than other recipes and the addition of tea is smart, we make a lot of wines in work, oak leaf, pea pod but not rhubarb
Oic i used green tea so hope this comes out alright , it has been fermenting now on a rapid speed for the past three days and it has gone from a light green due to the tea , to a nice light pink colour , i just hope now that the tea i used acted like tannin . Oh by the way i have started a Ribena wine and as it costs a bit for the black currants , by using Ribena it only costs approx £2.75 a gallon to make being the sugar the most expensive ingredient , Now just waiting for the elderflowers to come out . Thank you Tanya for the info on the Tannin .
Thank you for that Tanya , just that i have had no joy in finding any rhubarb which is pure red/pink that is why i have left out the green parts and just use the red and now the sugar as dissolved to a nice pinky colour what i wanted to know is why did you use tea , does it act as a substitute to pectolase ..
Black tea provides Tannin, which is naturally present in the skins of grapes. Tannin helps to give the flavour of the wine structure.
I have one question with regards to this recipe .I cut the stems in half as part were red and other part was green . I put the green parts to one side and just using the red part. If i mixed them together would i still get a pinky liquid from the Rhubarb or would it come out a different colour all together .. Regards Terry
Hi Terry, the pinker/redder your rhubarb the more tender it will be. Meaning, less of an acidic kick. The color of the final wine won’t be pink though — it’s more of a light golden color.
My Rhubarb was donated to me by my dad from a plant I grew up with, it's now in my garden and massive (and I don't like rhubarb any more now than I did then!). I'd had home brew equipment (also from dad) for a while now but been too scared to give it a go, however you make it look so easy that I'm trying this as my first wine this year. Wish me luck!!
Aside from fruits, this is the first time that I saw a vegetable turned or used as the main ingredient for wine. I've been buying liquor online and there's no wine like this one.
This Wine is awesome. Just drank my first bottle of it and loved it. Got some apples and noticed on another one of your blogs that you had done an apple wine. Do you have the recipe for that too?
I've used this recipe and my wine is now fully fermented and clear, I've read that some people leave it in the demi john for 6 months before bottling and some people bottle straight away, is there a right way or wrong way or is it down to personal preference? Personally I would like to bottle them now but I don't know what difference it makes in leaving it sit in a demi john or in bottles
Leaving it in the larger container will allow the wine to evenly mature, as sometimes bottles of the same a slight difference is noted, me ……. l always mature in bulk, as it stops me from “checking or testing” so much too ……… :)
Ooh, love the colour of it!
Tried to grow rhubarb from seeds but failed… would be nice to have a plant, even just for variety sake…
Hi Lrong :) My rhubarb is all from seed but I do have to say that it takes a LONG time for it to germinate. Keep trying and I'm sure you'll get one that grows! Once you have one plant you're also able to multiply your stock by division.
I love this! Thanks for sharing. http://www.pioneermountainfarms.com
Thanks for stopping by Crystal :)
Hello Tanya…first time here. We have the same problem with the rhubarb we planted as Leigh…I've never been a big fan, but my husband loves it. I think ours is in a kind of shady spot, but….maybe we need to fertilize it more.
Thanks Akannie and I hope you have luck trying to feed it with more manure! And have you tried cooking rhubarb with strawberries before? I didn't like rhubarb growing up but gave it another go after trying strawberry-rhubarb pie :)
Rhubarb loves manure and compost and loves being in the sun too …… don’t let the ground dry out too much.
A lot of folks are told to plant Rhubarb in the shade, but they need at least half a day of sunshine.
Pale pink, sweet, rhubarb wine? I like the sound of that! My kitchen (and, in fact, whole flat) are much too bijou for storing demi-johns so I think this sweet treat will have to wait a while. Thank you for sharing though – I've enjoyed reading about the process and seeing your photos!
Thanks Caro! I can completely understand about not being able to dedicate the space for demi-johns that need to sit for six months+. Have you tried making Elderflower Champagne though? It doesn't take much room and is ready in less than two weeks. The flowers will be out towards the end of May to the end of June so do have a think about it :)
That's a shame it isn't doing too well Leigh… Do you have them planted in a shady place? If not, you can try moving them and then pile plenty of well rotted manure around them. I've heard of them growing in places as warm as California and South Africa so might as well give it a go.
I also associate rhubarb with my grandmother :) Have you tried making the stewed rhubarb from shop-purchased stalks? Might be a good plan B!
Beautiful color! I planted 3 rhubarb plants 3 years ago. Two of them are still around but they never get more than about 6 inches high. I think our summer heat always does them in and stunts them every year. I planted them because I have fond memories of my grandmother making stewed rhubarb, which my dad loved. Never thought about wine!
It's a lovely colour. I don't suppose it stays this colour when it's complete.
Thanks Jo :) It should end up a clear pale yellow to gold.
I am nor a huge wine lover so i don't think I'll be making any. however i am also a 'give anything a try at least once' person so if I happen to see any on sale anywhere i would buy a bottle to give it a go…you never know it could be the one that turns me into a wine lover!!!!
This recipe results in quite a sweet wine so you might like it Tanya – it's not as sharp as conventional wines are either.
Good idea to try it first though! Not many retailers would have it but I'd bet you could find it online somewhere :)
Since we usually have more rhubarb than we know what to do with, I'm sorely tempted to try making this. What puts me off is that the end result of my last wine making effort (1987?) was a mouldy, forgotten bucket!
You really should try again Dominic :) I sometimes mark on the calender when I need to move the wine so I don't forget – maybe this could help you too?
I always have the problem of what to do with all the spare rhubarb we have so thank you for this recipe!
You're welcome Deco Cat…It's a longer investment in time but I'm sure you'll love making it :)
May have to try this. Rhubarb we have!
You won't regret it John :)