How to adjust taste
Alcohol, by its very nature, is a solvent and is therefore perfect for extracting, retaining and preserving essential oils from herbs and spices. As with any culinary recipe, the raw taste of food can be enhanced in many ways by adding other foods, spices or even by blending flavors.
The possibilities are huge. It’s up to you to be creative and experiment. I would advise you, however, to siphon off the equivalent of one to three bottles from your batch that you will use each time as test bottles, rather than testing your entire production. This will avoid wasting an entire batch with a bad recipe. Go slowly. Add ingredients in small quantities, taste, refine, as you would with a spaghetti sauce or any other recipe. Most importantly, take notes. Nothing is more frustrating than tasting the best wine you’ve ever made and not knowing what made it so good.
One of the experiences you can have, among others, is the following. Let’s say you made a wine from strawberries. The strawberries in your batch were a little lacking in bite, the wine was a little bland, you were disappointed and you had 30 bottles. Do not throw it away. Take one or two bottles of your banana wine and make blends. You may end up with a strawberry / banana wine that will be worth its weight in gold. Your guests will fight over it.
You could also use commercial wines, liqueurs or strong alcohols to enhance the taste of your recipes. Liqueurs or strong alcohols may contain additional sugars that could be converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide by yeast. It is therefore not recommended to add them to non-stabilized (sulfites and potassium sorbate) or pressurized alcohols.
Time can help improve taste
Time does a lot of things. We can also be too hasty, somtimes.
I have a back porch with a grapevine that the birds gorge themselves on when the harvest season arrives. I don’t know the grape variety, but the grapes taste good. One year, I decided to play a trick on the birds and covered the grapes with nets to prevent them from devouring them. I then picked the grapes when their flavor was at its peak and turned it all into wine.
Once fermentation was complete, I couldn’t wait to taste what I thought was a flavor miracle. The taste of these grapes was so good! However, I was very disappointed. The taste was terrible. I nevertheless decided to bottle it and slipped the bottles into my wine cellar.
Several months later, I decided to open one of the bottles without too much conviction and without too many expectations. To my great surprise, this vintage had turned into a very good wine. Sometimes time makes things right.
infuse some tea
A simple way to add flavor to your brew is to make a tea with herbs by infusing them in boiling water. Let the tea steep for about thirty minutes to get as much flavor as possible. Then, filter the tea through a coffee filter to keep only the tea and pour it into the wort at the end of the primary fermentation. There are many recipes and tea companies on the market that can provide many recipe possibilities.
Another method of giving flavor to your wine is to use fresh fruits that will macerate in the must during primary fermentation. This will be discussed later in the “What to ferment” section.
The easiest way though may be to use commercial essences. For example, the essence of spruce, maple, orange, apple or vanilla essence. There are many fruit essences on the market. The important thing is to remember that adding sugar to an unstabilized or pressurized alcohol can be dangerous. Be sure to read the labels to detect the sugar content of the essence. Since essences are very concentrated, they should be added sparingly. Often a few drops per gallon are enough.