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Rice and Raisin Wine

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Whilst it might sound an odd and unpromising combination, Rice and Raisin wine is one of CJJ Berry's recommended recipes to be made in March. Unlike many of his recipes which are based on 1 gallon quantities, this one is designed to make a 3 gallon batch.

1.5kgs of Raisins
2.25kgs of Long Grain Rice
4.5kgs of Sugar*
2 Tablespoons of Citric Acid.
13.5ltrs of Water

The technique used is to dissolve the sugar in some of the heated water taken from the 13.5ltrs and allow it to cool before pouring over the rice and raisins. The raisins should not be chopped or minced and, whilst he does not say it in the recipe, it may be worth adding a small amount of amylase to prevent the rice from later creating a starch haze. The citric acid, the yeast and yeast nutrient and the remainder of the water is added and the must is then moved to a warm place and left to ferment for about 3 weeks.

It should be stirred daily during this time and then strained through a fine sieve into three 4.5ltr (1 gallon) demijohns and left in a warm place until fermentation has stopped. If you have not used amylase, you may have to filter the wine prior to drinking, if there is any evidence of starch haze or the deposit of a very fine layer of sediment in the bottom of each bottle. (The recipe in CJJ Berry's book actually states "Filter the wine through one of the popular filters and it is ready for drinking straight away. If it is not drunk within 2 months, add 1 Campden tablet per gallon and leave for 9 months")

*Many of CJJ Berry's recipes contain more sugar than would be acceptable to modern tastes and tend to produce thick, syrupy, "sherry-like" wines. These can be watered down a little as you top up each Demijohn after each racking, but you may simply want to reduce the amount of initial sugar to 1-1.25kgs per gallon and aim for an initial OG of around1080 -1090 instead.

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  1. Pramod Mathur

    Last year I had followed a similar recipe with similar quantities. The fermentation got stuck after a while after I put it in a demijohn with an airlock. Read a lot about how to kick start a stuck wine. The fermentation did start once again. When I bottled it I found it to be just too sweet...nearly undrinkable, though I can smell alcohol. Perhaps the quantity of 4.5 kg. sugar added is just too much... Red Grape wine comes out well when I make it...but grapes do not come round the year. I intend to do rice and resin again later this week. Any suggestions are welcome.... ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Almost all of CJJ Berry's recipes tend to have higher levels of sugar than would be considered "normal" to modern palates and tend to produce high alcohol, sweet, syrupy (almost "Sherry-like") wines, even if you use high alcohol tolerant yeasts. Part of the reason for this is that tastes have changed since the book was first published in the early 1960s and part is because it is expected that winemakers would top up their demijohns with water after each racking, which would thin the body down a little and make the resultant wine less like a "Sherry".
    Personally, I would never start a wine that had a higher OG than about 1080-1090, so I would probably only use around 3.5kgs for the 3 gallon batch described.

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  2. Mark

    Sure that's not 2.5 kg rice? Not opposed to yeast nutrients, but it probably isn't needed due to the raisins. Old recipes used to recommend making a starter with raisins as a nutrient back before commercial nutrients were readily available. I do this when I make Mead. Always good results.


    Hi Mark,

    The original recipe on which this is based lists it as 2.25kgs (or 5lb if using the imperial measures) but I suppose there would be nothing wrong with increasing it to 2.5lgs, other than having to take account of the increase in alcohol content.

    Many of these old/traditional recipes (esepcially those in CJJ Berry's book) lack "consistency" in that they often use differing methods to achieve more or less the same result, hence the discrepency amongst them with regards to using 1 lemon/the juice of a lemon/1 teaspoon of citric acid to increase the acidity and the issue you highlight regarding using nutrient or making up a yeast starter. By and large, its really just a matter of personal preference and whether you are the type of person that plans far enough ahead to make up a starter or just pitches the yeast and goes for it....

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  3. Angela

    I have an old wine making book that asks for rice to be added to some of the recipes as yours does above. Could you tell me if rice should be cooked first before adding or added raw?.. Thanks


    HI Angela,

    The recipe doesn't specify, but in view of the fact that you are leaving the rice in there for 21 days, I suspect that you would just use dried rice.


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  4. ADM

    Thanks greatly.

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  5. ADM

    My specific question is, what is accomplished by the rice? In terms of general principles I can think of any number: yeast nutrition, mechanical support, hidden flavor components (originally present or created by yeast), adsorption of nasties, electrostatic fining, emulsification, breaking emulsification and many others unknown to me. I have seen similar recipes all over, including a book of family recipes and fountain drinks acalled "spoon bread and sugar wine" and East Indian websites, but the rice is considered to be a one-off secret ingredient that only appears here.


    As yeast nutrition, "absorbtion of nasties" and fining is normally carried out by other more specific compounds, I think it is unlikely to be present for those reasons. Beyond that, I'm afraid that that level of "technical" question is outside my area of expertise as I am not a trained chemist or food scientist and none of my reference books appear to contain the answers.

    However, in many of the "Eastern" recipes, rice was simply used as an alternative to fruit as the primary source of fermentable material, with the best rice to use being "Sticky Rice" or "Gelatinous Rice". It is believed that, whilst there were numerous varieties of "wild" grape available in China which were used with rice and honey to make fermented drinks around 9000 years ago, modern grape wines didn't travel to Asia until the second century BC when traffic along the Silk Road began to increase. (Archaeological evidence of early winemaking) As a result, it is understandable that much of the East's early exposure to alcohol would have come via way of its commonest natural ingredient.

    Unlike when brewing beer with barley, there are usually no natural enzymes present within the rice to break down the starch into fermentable sugars, so a specific type of yeast mixture known as "Jiuqu" (or Chinese Yeast balls) is used which contains bacteria that can produce sugar from the starches.

    Within the brewing industry (where rice is often added to American lagers as a cheap source of fermentable sugar and in order to produce a light dry taste) and in Country Winemaking where there is another primary source of sugar, the rice is generally added to provide flavour and a "dry bite".

    When CJJ Berry's book was first published in the early 1960s, Britain was an impoverished country trying to recover from the destruction of the Second World War and only recently having finished food rationing. Large numbers of the population were used to improvising with readily available, household ingredients and would have had access to rice and thus used it to produce a cheap, dry wine. It may well be that this is the reason he has included this recipe within his book.


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  6. ADM

    I have made this and think it is the tastiest sugar wine but I would like to understand the "why" of it.


    I would recommend getting a copy of CJJ Berry's book "First steps in Winemaking"


    as it fully explains all of the principles behind the processes used in all forms of winemaking.


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  7. Andrew lengert

    No need for amylase or filtering, I've made possibly hundreds of gallons and find it clears beautifully in about 6-8 weeks (with long grain rice anyway) PS I use super wine yeast compound & find it's rocket fuel! Must be getting on for 20% alcohol but you have to treat it like a whiskey, literally.


    Thanks for the advice Andrew.

    I've never made this wine myself and the suggestion to use Amylase is based purely on the advice provided by a customer who does make it regularly and prefers to use it within his winemaking.

    As with much else in brewing or winemaking, there is no single right way to do anything and much comes down to personal preference and experience.


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  8. david dixon

    Wonder if the wholemeal rice types would work well/better -----------------------------------------------------------------

    Hi David

    I can't think of any obvious reason why other types of rice wouldn't work. CJJ Berry's book was writen in the early 1960s and made use of ingredients that were readily available at the time. Perhaps at that point Long Grain Rice was much more accessible than wholemeal.

    If you are planning on having a go with wholemeal, my ony advice would be to make it up purely as a gallon (rather than as three in this recipe) so that if it is hideous and undrinkable, you will only have lost one gallon, not three.

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  9. Chris Graver

    Hi, Am new to the homebrew clique and have just checked out the rice and raisin wine recipe but there is no mention of what type of yeast or yeast nutrient to use or what quantities, cheers, Chris


    Hi Chris. The recipe in the book itself doesn't specify a particular yeast, so one would assume that standard, all purpose wine yeast would be fine. There is a pot of general yeast nutrient available in 100g tubs, or the specialist Tronozymol can be used if you have that. Many wine makers use the Youngs "Super Wine Yeast Compound" which is a ready prepared mixture of yeast and yeast nutrient which is usually added to the must at the rate of 1 teaspoon per gallon. Andy

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