Orange wine -first (and 2nd) attempt

I have had varying success making wine over the years, dandelion was lovely, beetroot tasted like beetroot, but not in a good way. We made wine with shop bought grape juice in Abu Dhabi, with was nice enough, so after I’d made a couple of years supply of marmalade in Jan 16, and still being very enthusiastic about having my own orange grove, I needed to find something else to do to preserve the thousands of oranges on those trees.

I found a recipe on the Jack Keller wine blog, a very valuable source for wine making, which uses the zest of 12 oranges (with dire warnings to remove all pith) and the juice of 24, plus sugar, water, yeast and yeast nutrient, to make 5 litres. I made a double batch ( 10 Ltrs) but didn’t have any yeast nutrient ( have since learned how to make my own). It took about 2 hours to zest and juice those oranges. I put them in my primary fermentation bucket, added my ingredients, stirred like a madwoman, Fermented for a week, racked into a demijohn with airlock for a month, racked again after another month, taste tested at each stage…. and it was vile at every stage!

It tasted like a very strong whisky with an aftertaste of……orange peel! I guess I must have let a bit of pith remain on the zest after all. In any event, I decided to bottle one demijohn full in April 16 and let the other ferment a bit more, finally bottling it in Jan 17. The flavour has improved slightly over time, I get a bottle out now and again when we have guests just to guage their reaction, some friends have found it to be disgusting, while others have quite liked it. I find it goes well with elderflower cordial and soda water as a spritzer. In December 18 we opened the last bottle and it was still horrible.

However, undeterred, we made another 10 litres in March last year, and opened the first bottle last night, it was surprisingly nice! A fruity, dry white wine with just a hint of orange. Unfortunately, I don’t know why this batch turned out better than the last, so just hope I can replicate it this year. The Valencias are nice and ripe now (I’d used navel oranges previously), so fingers crossed🤞🤞