"A few years ago I was wine tasting in your neck of the woods (the Texas Hill Country) and
purchased some raspberry-chipotle sauce at a winery near Stonewall. It did not last very
long! So I have a wild hair to make some raspberry-chipotle wine. The raspberry-chipotle
sauce was sweet, smoky and not super duper hot." Mike Griffith, Oxford, England
This is another request that came to me through my WineBlog. The requester recalls a raspberry-chipotle sauce he purchased in the Texas Hill Country and wondered if a wine could be made of these two ingredients. I confess, my wife and I love this sauce ourselves and presently have three bottles of it in the pantry. It is delicious served many ways, but especially as a barbeque glaze on pork ribs or fowl. The contrasting flavors of raspberries and chipotles (smoked jalapenos) compliment each other extremely well and add a true elegance as a glaze or simple sauce. Similar ingredients can make a wonderful 12-13% alcohol by volume wine. I made my wine with frozen raspberries and Mexican chipotles.
Chipotles are readily available here in south Texas, both as dried chiles and canned in oil (do not use the latter for winemaking). They may not be available in many other locales, so I will offer a few tips here on how to make them.
Chipotles are brown, smoke-dried jalapenos. There are two types -- with seeds and without seeds. The latter are called capones, or castrated ones, and are less firey than regular chipotles because most of the heat is in or around the seeds.
It is possible to make chipotles in a smoker or barbeque grill -- the latter may be the half-barrel type or Weber type, but a lid is mandatory. A smoker with multiple racks is best because you can smoke more at a time and the design of smokers keeps the fire away from the items to be smoked, but either works well if care is taken.
The quality of chipotles is dependent on the quality and maturity of the chiles, the constancy of temperature of the smoke that dries the pods, and the amount of drying time. Of lesser but still great importance is the aroma of the wood used to smoke the chiles. Branches of fruit trees (apple, orange, lemon, cherry) or other hardwoods (hickory, oak, pecan, mesquite) work very well. So do commercial hardwood chips intended for smoking meats, such as mesquite, hickory or pecan. Branches should be chopped or broken into 2-3-inche segments so they can be more easily soaked in water.
Smokers are used according to their directions. Using a barbeque grill requires some instruction. The metal grill itself must be well scraped, brushed, soaked, and cleaned to remove all evidence of prior use. Even a few small specks of meat or barbeque sauce residue stuck to the grill will taint the chiles and spoil the chipotles.
Build two small fires (or charcoal piles) on either side of the grill. The center area must be free of direct heat. When the fires are hot, place water-soaked wood chips or branch segments on the two fires and arrange the chiles in the center of the grill. Close the lid and choke off all the ventilation holes to a trickle of airflow so the fires do not burn too quickly or hot. Open the grill every half- to three-quarters of an hour or so and rearrange the chiles so none remain too close to the two fires very long. This is not necessary for smoker units, but is essential for barbeques -- especially the Weber type where the fire cannot be distanced too far from the jalapenos. The fires will need to be rekindled several times, but keep them small and never expose the chiles to direct flames.
It may take up to 48 hours to dry the chiles completely. They will be hard, weigh about 1/10th their pre-dried weight, and will be brown in color. Allow them to cool and seal in ZipLoc bags. They will last one to two years.
Use only sound ripe berries. Wash and destem berries. Put chopped chipotles in jelly-bag, tie, and place in primary, Put berries in nylon straining bag, tie, and over primary crush berries by hand and place bag in primary. Add all remaining ingredients except yeast in primary. Pour boiling water over ingredients and stir well to dissolve sugar. Cover with plastic wrap until cooled to 70-75 degrees F. Add yeast, recover, and stir daily until S.G. drops to 1.020 or below. Remove nylon straining bag and let drip-drain (do not press) 30-45 minutes to extract juice. Siphon off sediments into secondary, transfer jelly-bag with chipotles to secondary, top up if required, fit airlock, and set in dark, cooler (60-65 degrees F.) place. In 3 weeks, remove jelly-bag, squeeze to extract additional flavor, and discard contents. Rack, top up and refit airlock. Rack again in 3 months, adding another crushed and dissolved Campden tablet. Rack again 3 months later and bottle when clear and stable. Store in dark place to preserve color. Age at least six months. [Author's own recipe]
My thanks to Mike Griffith of Oxford, England for this request.