The accepted definition of a wine is the ‘product of the fermented juice of the grape’, but there are many materials from which an acceptable substitute may be made, these ingredients are blended to produce what can be at least as good as the commercial product. Why should grapes be considered best? The answer is that the grape is the only fruit to contain the balance of ingredients needed – yeast, sugar, flavouring, water, acid and tannin. The secret of good home-made wine is that it should contain a balance of these ingredients. Fruits must be considered individually in assessing this balance, for some are heavy in acid, some heavy in tannin (particularly elderberry). Flowers, grain, honey, leaves and vegetables are all deficient in acid and tannin. Particularly among flower and leaf groups, it may be necessary to add an ingredient to give further body to the wine. Bananas, either fresh or dried, will do this, and also sultanas, which will have little effect on the flavour, and are therefore most suitable for delicate flavours. Another useful addition is a small quantity of grape concentrate. Raisins, though also useful, are most suited to the heavier wines.
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