The Brewing Shed

Rhubarb wine – the easiest wine recipe going…

rhubarb pulp for wine

No decent allotment should be without a rhubarb plant, and no allotment holder should ignore the charms of rhubarb wine. Not only does it make an alternative culinary use to crumble, but it’s one of the finest homemade wines there is. So I sterilized the kitchen, followed the easiest recipe going and began brewing.

The process started by chopping up 3lbs of rhubarb, bashing it up a bit with a rolling pin in a bucket, and adding 3lbs of sugar.

Tomorrow I’ll strain the juice into a demijohn, top it up with warm water, add a sachet of wine yeast and fit an airlock.

Once fermentation is complete it’ll get racked off into a clean demijohn where it may go on a secondary, slower fermentation. This process can then be repeated after a few weeks, but either way the wine should be ready in about six months.

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Brew it Yourself Book

For more great recipes…

Rhubarb wine features in our debut book, Brew it Yourself, which is packed with booze making recipes and advice on how to grow or source many of the key ingredients. For the rhubarb fan it includes a delicious rhubarb and vanilla liqueur which we use in a rhubarb and custard cocktail. Available from most good book shops and on Amazon.

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67 Comments

    • Let us know how you get on! And keep checking the site – more ideas of how to turn surplus veg into wine coming soon…

  • try adding 1/2 lb of crushed raisins but reduce the sugar a bit , makes it a bit more mellow and gives it ‘body’.

  • That’s a good tip, thanks. I added raisins to our elderflower wine for exactly that reason. I was quite keen to see how the rhubarb wine would taste at its most basic level – next year we can try some additions to see how it varies.

    • Thanks Ian. I like the sound of the black currant version. Keep us posted with the results and we might just try some with next year’s rhubarb harvest…

  • I have given up on this method of rhubarb wine. I kept on getting a swiss cheese taste – propionic acid? So now, I boil my rhubarb and add sugar to the liquid, rather than extract the liquid with sugar only. I don’t know if anyone else has the swiss cheese problem? It doesn’t go brilliantly with a wine taste. Otherwise rhubarb wine is excellent – and the best colour of any wine I do.

    • How curious… our rhubarb is very drinkable even at this early stage, and no cheesy notes at all. I have read that wine quality can vary from stalk to stalk. We used mid-season, mainly green stalks and have an almost colourless wine. I have a suspicion that the pinker, earlier cuts are less successful… but can’t verify that.

      • Hi, I use early rhubarb and so far have had no problems with the wine and its a lovely pinkish colour and very champagney, pop goes the cork. Never lasted the six months and it goes very well with a sweet course

        • Hi Bill
          Many thanks for the feedback. We’re currently growing lots of different varieties of rhubarb, including some early varieties, to see which one makes the best wine. I also like serving it with a sweet course and have been known to sweeten it a touch in the bottle to give it a dessert wine quality.
          Keep popping those corks!

  • I’m going to have a go at this today, methinks. I have none of my own rhubarb because, well, you know. But fortch the lady down the road is selling it by the massive bunch for 60p a pop!! My question is THIS: isn’t it a right faff putting all the extra bits straight into the demi john? Is there a reason you can’t strain the rhu-juice off into another bucket, stir it all up and then pop (ok, syphon) it into the demi john?? Or doesn’t it really matter? And have you ever tried making rhubarb beer a la ginger beer? Can’t really find any recipes for this so am presuming that it just doesn’t work. That was four questions. Sorry.

    • I guess you can strain it into another vessel. But the other ‘bits’ are only water and yeast… and by straining the juice directly into the demijohn first you know exactly how much water needs adding. And there’s less washing up.
      There are hundreds of ways to make rhubarb wine – it’s not a precise science – and I’m sure you’ll love the results however you make it.
      There are several recipes out there for rhubarb ‘champagne’ – which is essentially ginger beer with rhubarb instead. This year I will be attempting a rhubarb and elderflower ‘champagne’. Method TBC.

  • Yeah, when thought about it I realised it wasn’t really that faffy. I s’pose I was wondering more how the yeast gets mixed in properly, or doesn’t that matter? I’ve only got two pounds of rhubarb so it turns out. I’ve bashed it all up with two pounds of sugar but when it comes to putting it in the demi-john do I have to fill it right to the top or is it okay to leave space in it? Or would it be better to make up the rhubarb shortfall with something else (apples maybe)? I suppose I just don’t want it to be too wishy washy. Many thanks for your ongoing assistance in this matter and putting up with my stupid questions. PS will send updated pics of my spud fort soon

    • Right then… lets see if we can answer these questions

      • Yeast. Always best to follow the instructions on the packet, but if that sounds like too much of a cop out then mix it in with a bit of warm water then pour that into the demijohn with the rest. Give it a wee stir. Make sure everything is sterilised, obviously.

      • You should try to fill the demijohn. Air and wine don’t mix when fermentation subsides. And as you’ll also lose a bit of volume when you ‘rack off’ you’ll end up with a large shortfall. So, yes, top up to the neck. I reckon two pounds will give a fair rhubarb taste so maybe a juice and water mix plus another half pound of sugar? (I’m kinda guessing). Grape juice is usually the weapon of choice but failing that apple, raspberry, guava and lime… anything really should be fine. Alternatively you could turn it into a rhubarb and elderflower wine – follow our elderflower wine recipe using a third of the ingredients then add to the blend.

      • Keep firing more questions our way. And update us with progress – it very much sounds like you’re inventing a new wine which is always exciting!

      • Ta Nick… I have just added 300g raisins, 200g apples, a bit of brown sugar and a lemon. I’ll leave it for another day and put it in the demi-john tomorrow.

        • Hi Carole
          Transfer the liquid from one demijohn to another so you leave behind the mucky stuff at the bottom.
          There should be a link within the piece to explain more – click on the words ‘racked off’.

          Enjoy your rhubarb wine
          nick

  • Love reading your tips.am confused by some sites and i am sure they omit a fair bit! as i am new to it i even had to google “racking” to know what to do.now have feijoa wine in carboys and today chopped the rhubarb.Your recipe does not mention pectin or campden…do you not use these?

  • ps. my feijoa has stopped bubbling finally but is quite cloudy. what cheap and easy remedy would you recommend?Thank you.

    • Hi. Thanks for visiting the site.

      To answer your queries…
      Campden: Yes, we do use tablets for most recipes but wanted to show that you can still make great wine without – many people have allergic reactions to sulphates, which is what they produce, so it should be treated as optional.

      Pectin: This is a natural substance that can cause cause cloudy wine. It’s not a problem, apart from aesthetics. The best remedy is pectolase which is usually added at he beginning but can also work if added during racking. Again as its not an essential ingredient we wanted to show that you can make wine without it. You can also try egg-shells. More info here http://twothirstygardeners.co.uk/2012/09/cloudy_coloured_wine/

      Racking: There’s a link to racking off within the article.

      Feijoa: We’ve not tried feijoa wine before so please keep us posted with progress!

  • eggshells worked a treat and the wine is very clear.However, it is very sweet and I prefer a chardonnay to a sav blanc..soooo, would it help to add some yeast to the wine to break down the sugar?? also, the rhubarb is bubbling away and is almost shocking pink in colour,so very excited about that!

    • Hi Joy. Apologies but I’ve only just noticed this post…
      How to make a wine less sweet? That’s a tricky one! Yeast dies when the alcohol level reaches a certain level… so it could be you had more sugar than the yeast could handle. In which case re-pitching is unlikely to help. Alternatively it could’ve stopped prematurely for any number of reasons, in which case re-pitching might help.
      And there are also some sugars in some ingredients that don’t ever ferment out so always leave a touch of sweetness in the final beverage.
      Sounding vague, huh?
      If you do decide to put more yeast in then pick one that has been designed for high alcohol wines, or you can even get specialist re-start yeasts.
      I never mind a drop of sweetness in home-made wines so haven’t any experience of your particular problem but maybe someone else reading this could help?

    • You can top up with water. Make sure it has been boiled first then cooled before adding, using sterlised equipment of course. And if you want to maintain the same alcohol strength you can add a touch of sugar, but this isn’t vital

  • Excuse me but being really green ,why the eggshells and what does it do? Clear the wine?? If so does it work on all wine and how or whats the science behind it.Thanks

  • Hi there Nick,

    My friend has made rhubarb wine before and it was delicious..! Today I am going to go and forage some rhubarb for wine. I was wanting to make rhubarb and ginger wine but I am having trouble finding a simple recipe with a specific quantity of ginger. I usually do 3lb fruit/flowers etc and 3lb sugar with yeast and yeast nutrient. So I was wondering if you had any tip or info on how much ginger I could put in..? Also many recipes call for sultanas but I was wondering if I could leave them out…?

    I am a complete noob at wine making but have helped friends make wine before. To date I have made red clover wine and redcurrant wine. They are currently bubbling away beside my stove… Excited to try it soon…!

    BTW great site..!

    Many Thanks

    Anna 🙂

    • Hi Anna
      I’ve heard other people have success with rhubarb and ginger, but haven’t tried it myself. It can be quite overpowering so don’e get too carried away with it – a small, sliced nob of ginger should suffice (say around 50g). Sultanas are used to add a bit of ‘body’ to wines but I find rhubarb works perfectly well without this addition. Let us know how you get on, and would be interested to hear the results of your red clover wine and red currant wine – we’ve not made either.
      Glad you enjoy the site.
      nick

  • Would you happen to know how to brew rhubarb and apple together in about 3 months? I have rhubarb from my back garden and a bunch of apples from a friend’s. They have already been waiting patiently together in my freezer for months until I find a decent recipe.
    I have done blueberry wine before, but can’t seem to find anything on combing rhubarb and apple.

    • I’ve never combined the two, but there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t. I would suggest suggest replacing 1lb rhubarb with 2lb apples (or 1.5lb with 3lb; 2lb with 4lb; etc). Wash and chop the apples and simmer them in water until they start to soften. Then combine this liquid appley mix with the rhubarb juice and sugar using the method in this recipe. When cool add the yeast and ferment in the bucket for a few days. Then strain into a demijohn.
      Let us know how you get on… if it works then you’ll have to write us a guest recipe for the website!
      nick

  • I have never made non kit wines before bur have loads of rhubarb in garden.I have used egg shells to clear consomme’s (clear soups) and they work well in them so will try if needed in wine ..

  • Hi all
    Have you got to be a member of this site, If so how does one join?
    I’m just about to start on my homemade wine trip, still short of one or two things which I had years ago when I made Beer, like a heating belt, Hydrometer, thermometer (Gave them away), I in fact have three Demi-johns, two air locks, “Bruclens Cleaner & Steriliser, plus an never ending suply of optmisim. How many demi johns would be idea for the small mine maker?
    Phil

  • hi 2TTGs, was pleased to find someone posting lovely and important things to do with the vegetable/ fruit stuff growing in ones plot, as i was looking for an easy rhubarb wine recipe.
    Now admittedly i should have asked first but it became evident that your quantities were NOT for a demijohn the size of the one i inherited from the previous tennant (its a 5gallon one), so in haste i ran outside to cut more barb and had a few more kilos of sugar, but could only summon the strength to hack up 3kg worth of fruit (i must buy a kitchen knife). So when it came to toppng up with water i only filled to the 3gallon mark. Now i know you advised to fill ones demiohn to the top to exclude air so you might well tell me thats where it all went wrong.
    But by the next day i could barely see any bubbles coming out of the airlock, or froth on the liquid (athough its a white container and not easy to see contents.)
    My question is have i killed the yeast before it had time to work on the sugar? Could it have been too cold/ hot (i used half boiling half cold water)? or is it the air?
    Should i dump this mess and leave it for the butterflies and start again with the right amounts of fruit sugar water to fill the 5G container? its been sitting a week now.
    hope you can advise; ive promised mates there will be homemade wine by xmas….!

    • Hi Helen
      Of all those things you mention the only one that would kill the yeast is a higher temperature than it likes.
      My suggestion would be to give it a stir, add some more yeast and store it somewhere with a consistent temperature – not to hot, not too cool.
      If that doesn’t start fermentation then I’ve no idea what’s going on!
      And at some stage you should try to rack it into 3 x 1 gallon demijohns to keep the oxygen at bay.
      Good luck!

  • I had less rhubarb this year so I added 3 mashed bananas. Also I used a “high alcohol dessert wine” yeast. This wine should be “interesting”.

  • I had a large crop of rhubarb in in April and used your simple recipe. At the beginning of August it was ready for bottling. It is beautifull clear with a pale pink tinge and very dry and we ‘sampled’ a bottle (whole) yesterday. As I forgot to take any readings we have no idea of the finished ABV but hubby drank two glasses and retired to his bed to sleep it off.

    Second batch is bubbling away.

    We have promised to leave the rest until Christmas but should we leave it this long as I am uncertain about the keeping properties?

    • Hi Sandie. I’m sure it wasn’t beginners luck, but only one way to find out…
      Good news on the keeping properties. Like all wines, homemade wines benefit from ageing in bottles. Red wines packed with tannins will rock on for years, gradually improving, while white wines with less tannin reach their peak a bit quicker (although we’re still talking several years). Exactly when they’re at their best varies from batch to batch and is largely a subjective thing, but I tend to enjoy rhubarb the most around 18 months to 2 years after making. So Christmas is well within range and, if you can keep your husband off it, I would try to save a bottle for the following Christmas to see how it measures up. Enjoy!

  • Hi total novice here, got given a load of rhubarb so decided to give this a go chopped rhubarb and put in in container with the sugar – two days ago – getting a Demijohn tomorrow so I will need to sterilize this over night (hope the rhubarb doesn’t go mouldy) but I had no luck finding a demijohn sooner – my questions are – do I need to put demijohn in a warm place i.e.. airing cupboard, do I need two Demijohns as you state transferring wine from one to another before bottling up, and also what is a gravity reading – PS: I always rush into things, its utter madness but really wanted to try this

    • Hi Jenny
      Welcome to the excitement of wine making!
      To answer your questions…
      Yes, a warm location such as an airing cupboard is ideal. I used to ferment all of my wines in the airing cupboard but got told off for making the clothes smell of yeast (but I had a lot of wines). Just make sure to put an old towel under the demijohn for the first few days – they have been known to bubble out of the airlock.
      Two demijohns would be ideal. You could transfer to another sterilised vessel before pouring back into the initial demijohn but it’s an unnecessary extra stage if you can double up the DJs instead. And anyway, you’ve got a new hobby to indulge – one demijohn will never be enough!
      A gravity reading tells you how much sugar is in the liquid. So by taking a reading before it starts fermenting and another after fermentation you can calculate how much alcohol is in the finished wine. Also useful for working out when it’s ready. But don’t worry about this too much – I can rarely be bothered with it.
      Good luck with the booze making – look forward to hearing the final verdict!

  • Hi Nick thank you for your reply and sorry to bombard you with more questions – I see you put your yeast in when you have strained your fruit and put in the demijohn, so I am a little confused when my yeast arrived the instructions on the pack said to sprinkle into the fruit and sugar and stir in, does it matter (as I have said I tend to run before I walk) and I prepared my rhubarb and sugar in a sterile container a few days ago and then had to order the yeast, bungs and airlocks as I couldn’t find any wine making equipment in my local town -in which time I strained the fruit through a sieve (will strain properly before adding to demijohn) and poured it into a sterile plastic bottle and froze it, as I didn’t want it to go mouldy – my order arrived today so at the moment I am defrosting juice – do you think I should add the yeast once it reaches room temperature and leave over night or scrap it and start again. thank you in advance Jenny

  • Hi Quick update
    Wine now bottled and super scrummy, about to make another batch for next Christmas, Cherry wine I might add brandy to it when racking off, thanks for your help on here and have a great Christmas

    • Hi Caroline
      Wine makers use grape concentrate to add extra body to wines. Similarly, we use dried fruit such as raisins and sultanas to add body to some of our wines.
      However, I think rhubarb has enough body to make it a perfectly enjoyable light wine without the need for a grape boost.
      I’m sure there are some folk out there that add concentrate, but not us. My suggestion would be to try it without first and if it’s not robust enough for your taste add some next time around.

  • I don’t like sweet wines, preferring, dry full bodied reds.
    This is my first attempt at making wine. Can I add more fruit, and less sugar please?
    My rhubarb is huge. Is it ok to use the large pieces. I’ve been too busy to harvest it?
    Thank you, kind regards, Kim

    • Hi Kim
      I always use big sticks of rhubarb so no problem with that!
      If you let all the sugar ferment out then your wine should be dry. Try using a champagne yeast as that’s got a bit more staying power.
      Increasing the rhubarb will likely intensify the flavour but might make it a bit more acidic and won’t affect sweetness. You could reduce the sugar but it’ll lower the alcohol strength – if you’re a fan of full bodied wines I would include as much sugar as you dare!
      But there are no rules to wine making so adjust the recipe however you wish – if you have lots of rhubarb then perhaps you could make a few batches with different quantities, and make sure to tell us which one comes out best!
      Have fun

        • It’s when all the sugar has been converted to alcohol. So, yes, when it stops bubbling this should indicate that it has fermented out, providing everything went according to plan and it fermented in good conditions.

  • so new and never done this before! do you have to use cloth to strain or is a sieve fine enough to get the juice out?

    Tracy

    • A muslin cloth is best as that will leave behind most of the bits of rhubarb, but you can also use a fine sieve.
      As with most things there’s no right or wrong.
      When it comes to ‘racking’, the mucky stuff will settle at the bottom of the demijohn so you should be able to syphon off the clear liquid above… but the more mucky stuff you leave behind, the less of the good stuff you’re left with!

  • So I’ve left my rhubarb over night and it’s still pretty damn hard! Shall I bash it and leave it until tomorrow?
    Tracy

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