"I have just started making wine, and someone told me that
you can make wine from canned fruit. I have many jars of
pears and peaches that I canned about 5 years ago and
wondered if it would be posssible to make a decent wine
from them. Can you help me?"Caren Bilyk
The answer to your question is yes, but it is a little different than making wine from fresh fruit. Peaches and pears are usually canned in a sugar syrup, so the sugar content will be different from the start. Still, the basic steps are the same. There is a book on the subject, "Winemaking with Canned and Dried Fruit" which you can find listed on my Winemaker's Library.
In the meantime, I'm sending you a recipe (below) which is fairly standard for canned fruit. I have added an item (fresh squeezed orange juice) suggested by Terry Garey in her book, "The Joy of Home Winemaking," but otherwise the recipe is pretty standard for the subject.
Since first publishing the recipe below, I have received feedback from several people about the wine it produces. The biggest complaint is that the finished wine doesn't smell like peach wine and, depending on the quality of the canned peaches, may not even taste like what one might expect. As to the aroma, canned fruit will never contain the aroma of fresh fruit because canned fruit is drowned in syrup. If you know that going in, you won't come out disappointed at the end of the process. As to taste, if you are not using your own canned peaches you are at the mercy of the cannery. With most commercial canned fruit, you usually get what you pay for. Buy and try several brands of peaches and choose the one that tastes best to you. They won't taste like fresh peaches, but why would anyone expect them to? They're canned!
A second complaint was that at least two people had trouble getting the must to begin fermentation. That problem, it turns out, was due to the products being heavily preserved with additives. If the additive is sulfite, we can solve it easy enough with a yeast starter solution and adding the syrup to it bit by bit, but if the problem is potassium sorbate or benzoate it will not ferment. Period. Read the labels carefully.
Finally, I received a complaint that the wine was way too sweet. I state in several places in this site that recipes are guidelines, not gospel. The sweetness of one canned product will undoubtedly differ from another unless they are made by the same cannery and simply sold under different labels. Heavy syrup will be sweeter than light syrup. Use your hydrometer to calculate the amount of sugar required to be added. If you do that, you can't go wrong on sweetness.
So, having said all of that, I hope you won't be discouraged from making this wine. You can improve its bouquet by adding one can of frozen peach concentrate in with the water, but this will change the sugar content even more and you'll need to add less sugar. Again, use you hydrometer!
Bring water to a boil. Meanwhile, drain the fruit but save the liquid they were canned in. Chop fruit and put in nylon straining bag. Tie bag and put in primary. Add orange juice. When water boils, remove from heat and add liquid from canned fruit. Stir in 1 lb. sugar and stir until dissolved. Measure S.G. and continue adding sugar (1/4 cup at a time, then stir to dissolve) until S.G. reaches 1.088-1.090. When S.G. is right, pour sweetened water over fruit. Add acid blend, tannin, yeast nutrient, and crushed Campden tablet and stir. Cover with cloth, wait 12 hours, then add pectic enzyme. Recover, wait additional 12 hours, then add yeast. When fermentation is very active (1-2 days later), stir and push bag of fruit under. Don't worry if it floats back up. Ferment 5 days, stirring daily and pushing bag under liquid several times. Drip drain (don't squeeze) the bag and return drained juices to primary. Discard fruit. Allow liquid to settle, then siphon off sediments into sterile secondary and fit air lock. Rack after two months and again after additional two months, topping up each time. Wait final two months, add stabilizer, wait additional 10 days, and rack again. Sweeten to taste with up to 1/4 cup sugar dissolved in 1/8 cup water and bottle the wine. Allow 6 months aging before tasting. Well-canned fruit will have produced good wine by now. If the wine tastes less than expected, allow to age another 6 months. [Author's recipe, with a little help from Terry Garey's The Joy of Home Winemaking]
My thanks to Caren Bilyk for the request.