"Do you have a recipe for Bush Cherry Wine (Nanking Cherry)?"
Johnathan Jones, Jacksonville, Florida
The Nanking cherry Prunus tomentosa, has escaped cultivation and can be found all over the United States where rainfall exceeds 12 inches a year, but especially in the South. Also called the Manchu Cherry, Chinese Bush Fruit, Bush Cherry, and Hedge Cherry, the vigorous shrub grows to 10 feet in height. It produces heavy crops of half-inch tart, red fruit with a tangy flavor similar to sour cherries. They hold well on the plant, up to three weeks after ripening if the birds allow it, and are often made into pies, jams and jellies. They are less often made into wine, but certainly can be. It doesn't take many to flavor a wine.
The fruit should be picked only when fully ripe in July or August, depending on the location. The average mature bush will easily yield enough fruit for 2-3 gallons of wine. Like many dark berries, the wine's color will suffer if exposed to bright light. For this reason, use dark glass fermentation vessel or clear glass wrapped in brown butcher paper. Store and age bottles in a dark place.
Bring water to boil and dissolve sugar in it, stirring until completely clear. Meanwhile, wash and destem the cherries and tie them into a nylon straining bag. With hands, crush the cherries in primary fermentation vessel. Add acid blend and yeast nutrient and pour boiling sugar-water over fruit. Stir briefly to aid in dissolving additives, cover primary, and allow to cool to 70-75 degrees F. Add crushed Campden tablet, stir, recover, and set aside 12 hours. Add thawed can of grape concentrate and pectic enzyme, stir well, recover and set aside additional 12 hours. Add yeast, recover and allow to ferment seven days, squeezing bag twice daily. Squeeze well to extract juice, discard pulp, and transfer to dark secondary fermentation vessel or clear one wrapped with brown paper. Top up if necessary and fit fermentation trap. Rack after 30 days, top up and refit airlock. Repeat after 30 additional days and again two months later. Stabilize, sweeten to taste (if desired) and set aside 2-3 weeks. Bottle, store in a dark place and taste after six months to a year. Improves with additinal aging. [Author's own recipe]
My thanks to Johnathan Jones of Jacksonville, Florida for his request.