Quebec Maple Wine

I’ve always wanted to make a maple wine. It’s the Canadian spin on a traditional Viking mead — but using maple syrup instead of honey. Maple is full of sucrose and all ready to be fermented into delicious booze.

It’s also worth noting that when the zombie apocalypse drops and we’re all living in tree forts in northern Ontario, maple sap will be the most readily available base to make hooch. And goddamn we’re gonna need some hooch.

Ideally I would’ve liked to visit a local maple syrup producer and buy the stuff in bulk. Alas I live in downtown Toronto and don’t have a vehicle… for a future batch I’ll rent a car, but for this project I just bought it in cans. Fortunately I found a great deal for pure maple syrup, usually it costs around $26-30/US-Qt. (6-8 Qts to a batch) but I found some for half this price. Don’t use Aunt Jemima here, you need the 100% pure stuff, straight up, no preservatives!

I found a recipe online that seemed to be the internet favorite, John Gorman’s Maple Wine:

Recipe for 23L batch:

  • 14x 540mL cans Quebec Pure Maple Syrup #1 Amber
  • 5g Yeastex-61 nutrient

  • Distilled non-chlorinated water
  • 1 packet EC-1118 yeast

Andrew and I convened on a school night to get this going. I didn’t see a point in doing a primary and decided to start it directly in the carboy.

We took the unusual step of hydrating the yeast and pitching it first. I hydrated it with 1/2 C lukewarm water and 2 tsp table sugar. Next we nuked the yeast nutrient with boiling water to dissolve it — then cooled it down with cold water so it wouldn’t kill the yeast — then added the hydrated yeast and poured everything into the empty carboy.

I have a 15L stockpot which we used to mix the must and then siphon it into the carboy. You could just pour it directly into the carboy but I don’t have a decent funnel. So we dumped the maple syrup cans into the pot, then rinsed the cans with water to get all the residual syrup too.

I tried to take a gravity reading directly in the carboy. Alas the top of the must was mostly water and we got a bogus reading (somewhere around ~1.07, it should’ve been closer to ~1.12). I’ll do another reading shortly.

One major fuck up: the carboy we used which I thought was 23L was actually only 19L. Fortunately this is the least harmful fuck up possible. The final result will probably be more viscous and higher ABV. Not a bad thing!

Fermentation was slow at first, the bubbles had trouble getting to the surface and a layer of gunk quickly developed. Two days later however it’s moving quite well, the gunk has dissipated and the bubbling is picking up steam.

I finally got an accurate starting gravity reading: 1.125

Here are some photos:

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  1. Andy
    Posted February 20, 2011 at 2:56 am | Permalink

    Hi Mark,

    How’s this maple wine coming along? It’s been the better part of a year now. Is it on the sweet side or on the dry side? I’m looking to make either a 1- or 2.5-gallon batch of this pretty soon, but I’d like it as sweet and mapley as possible. Thought about a sweet-mead yeast, but I know that Gorman’s recipe uses champagne yeast. Any tasting notes or fermentation notes would be a great help.

    Big thanks,

  2. Mark
    Posted February 20, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    Andy, it was a bit of a bust 🙁 As I found out later, only about 60% of the sugars in maple syrup are fermentable. So I ended up with a wine that is 7-8%, extremely sweet (the final gravity is ~1.056) and a little too thick.

    I’m working on a maple mead now where I’ve added 1.8L maple syrup to an 11L batch of honey mead. So far this is tasting much better. You get lots of maple flavour but it’s not overly sweet and the balance is really nice.

    Another idea might be to make a really dry white wine, then add a few litres of maple syrup to that. So you get your alcohol content from the wine, and the maple flavour ought to overpower the wine and dominate the taste.

    Hope this helps,

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