Like its cousin the red raspberry (Rubus strigosus), the black raspberry (Rubus occidentalis) is one of about a dozen or so varieties of the raspberry species native to the United States and Canada. It is found throughout the eastern United States and Canada. It can most often be found along the margins of woodlands, streambeds, clearings, roadsides, and abandoned fields. The plant forms a subshrub to about 2 meters high. The berries are globular in shape--or nearly so--and a half-inch to nearly an inch in size and turn from light green to rose, then bright red and black, ripening from June to September. When ripe, the berries are juicy, separate easily from their stalk, and are very popular among birds and other wildlife.
Black raspberries make a fragrant, subtle wine. It can be made dry or sweet and is my wife's favorite wine. The recipe below makes one gallon.
Pick only dark, ripe berries. Combine water and sugar and put on to boil, stirring occasionally until sugar is completely dissolved. Wash and destem berries. Put in nylon straining bag, tie, put in botton of primary, and crush berries in bag. Pour boiling sugar-water over berries to set the color and extract the flavorful juice. Add acid blend, tannin and yeast nutrient. Allow to cool to 70 degrees F. and add one crushed Campden tablet. Cover primary with plastic wrap secured with a large rubber band. Twelve hours later add pectic enzyme and after an additional 12 hours add activated wine yeast. Recover the primary. Stir daily for a week, replacing plastic wrap if it looks like it needs it. Remove nylon bag and allow to drip drain about an hour, keeping primary covered as before. Do not squeeze bag. Return drippings to primary and discard pulp (or use to make a "second" wine). Transfer to secondary and fit airlock. Use a dark secondary or wrap with brown paper (from paper bag) to preserve color. Rack into clean secondary after two months. Refit airlock and rack again after additional 2 months. Wait another month, stabilize, wait additional month, Rack and sweeten if desired. Wait two weeks to ensure refermentation does not begin and bottle into dark glass. Drink after six months. This is an excellent wine, but don't rush it! You must ferment the full 6 months and age another six. Serve chilled. [Author's own recipe]
The author's recipe for the black raspberry wine (sweet) that won best of show in April 2000 is posted on the recipe page for the San Antonio Regional Wine Guild.