Pumpkin Wine

My wife and I are always on the lookout for making wine with unconventional ingredients — lemon, coffee, green striped cushaw squash — to name a few. When my wife asked about making pumpkin wine, I thought, “What the heck? Let’s give it a try.”

The first decision to be made was whether we use pie pumpkins or carving pumpkins. Our answer was easy; let’s try two small batches. That’s the beauty of making small batches — if it turns out well you have a benchmark for making a larger batch, on the other side of the cork, well, at least you have something to serve that annoying uncle who shows up on the holidays! As it turned out, we found the sugar content is a little higher in the baking pumpkins.

Our next step was finding a recipe. We searched the Internet and found a few to help get us started. The only thing missing for me was the smell associated with pumpkin pie. That’s when we decided to add the spices. In recent years we have done four batches of our pumpkin wine. For our initial batch we used white sugar and for the next we used brown sugar, which we liked due to the nice golden color it gives the wine.

We prefer to drink our pumpkin wine slightly chilled. As it warms up, the complexity of the wine comes to life.

I named this special treat “Pumpkin Die Wine,” since I’m a funeral director. We usually come up with whimsical names for our wines when we give them out as gifts. It has become one of our favorite recipes, and one I am happy to share. Let your imagination take over. It’s a lot of work, but in the end all that hard work pays off.

Pumpkin Die Wine

(1 gallon/3.8 L)

• 10 lbs. pumpkin
• Brown sugar until SG is 1.090
• 1 Campden tablet
• 1 tsp. pectic enzyme
• 1 tsp. yeast nutrient
• 2 tsp. acid blend
• ¼ tsp. tannin
• 1.5 gallons (5.7 L) water
• ¼ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
• ¼ tsp. nutmeg
• 1 tsp. vanilla
• 1 tsp maple syrup
• 1 cinnamon stick
• ½ tsp ascorbic acid,
• ½ tsp potassium metabisulfite
• Red Star Montrachet yeast

Step by step
Cut pumpkin in half and dice the meat of it into small pieces. Place in 1.5 gallons (5.7 L) boiling water until tender (about 15 minutes). When done boiling, save the water. Let the pumpkin cool and place it in a nylon bag and squeeze to extract the juices into your water. At this point, add the pumpkin and all of your ingredients except the yeast and cinnamon stick into your water and stir. When it has cooled, sprinkle yeast on top. Leave pumpkin chunks in for 5 days, then rack into a 1-gallon (3.8-L) jug. Then break the cinnamon stick in half and add it to your jug. Place remainder in screw cap bottle and place in fridge for topping off later (Do not tighten cap). Rack every 2 months until clear (I usually rack 3-4 times). When wine has cleared, add ½ tsp. ascorbic acid, ½ tsp. potassium metabisulfite and sweeten to taste before bottling.