Hibiscus wine

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jkrug

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I have been saving the flowers from my wifes plants for about 6 months. I have the flowers in the freezer. Some are dried and some are not. Do they all have to be dried? Can there be a mixture? What is the best base to use? If this turns out good will make yearly. Thanks in advance for the help.
 

Stressbaby

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What kind of hibiscus is it? Most recipes cite H. sabdariffa, but this plant is uncommon and in my experience hard to grow.

More commonly available is H. rosa-sinensis, which is the common tropical hibiscus. I have made many batches of wine with H rosa-sinensis. I remove the entire pistil, then dry the flowers. Then I put them in a ziplock in the freezer until I have enough. Don't worry if the flowers brown a little, the color is still there. Just watch for mold. If you collect them when it is dry you should be fine.

I find it easier to count flowers than to weigh them. This allows you to use the same number of flowers whether they are dried or not. 80 flowers per ounce is my rule. I find 160 flowers/gallon to make the wine a little too thick, so I've cut back to 120-140 flowers per gallon.

Most recipes have you pour boiling water over the flowers, then remove the flowers when cool. Don't leave the flowers in this step too long. Hibiscus flowers have a lot of mucilage. This is a polysaccharide which means two thing for the wine. First, it is fermentable, which means that after the sugar is fermented you get this extended sort of secondary fermentation which can last for weeks. It looks a little like MLF. Second, it can make the wine almost syrupy in thickness. Think "body" but in the extreme. So follow the recipe carefully, don't squeeze the bag too hard, and don't overdo the flowers.

Hibiscus in my opinion benefits from a second element for flavor. I've used citrus, ginger, grape concentrate, and the leftover cake from a pressed fruit wine such as blueberry. My favorite hibiscus wines is Costa Rican Hibiscus, the recipe is here. You will have to clarify it, but it is really an interesting, wonderful wine.
 

jkrug

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What yeast is recommended? Lavlin, monorachet or what?
 

Stressbaby

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I've used K1-V1116 or QA 23 with good results. I'm learning to stay away from Montrachet given recent H2S issues. Looking at my records, I used Red Star Champagne once and it was fine. But K1-V1116 is what I've used the most.
 

Vinobeau

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I've used K1 v 116, Premier Cuvee, and K-47. All are great! Try adding some Heather or Dill. Adding dill to Rose Petal and Hibiscus wines is very nice.
 

jkrug

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One more question. I used a welches/old orchard base. It took about 1 week for fermentation to begin. Just walked downstairs and it seemed foamy so fermentation began between yesterday and this afternoon. With it taking a week, does anyone for see any issues, spoling etc? Seems to smell ok.
 

Stressbaby

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Did you add Kmeta or a Campden tab at the beginning? If so, little risk, although strange that it should take so long to start.
 
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