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I have loads of apples in the garden and every year I make experimental 1-gallon batches of cider and apple wine (cider plus extra sugar). This year I tried to make a cider that wasn't ultra-dry, by using a specific cider yeast (that included a "sweetener"). After that batch was complete I used the yeasty lees to make future batches, then split them into two separate gallons and topped up with fresh apple juice etc etc. Some I added sugar to by pouring into a pan, warming it on the stove, dissolving the sugar and pouring it back into the demijohn. Appalling record-keeping - i.e. none.

However after all this one (just one) batch of apple wine turned out like a nice sherry. It was/is really good and my mum loves it. I'd call it a medium sherry - she says its a cream style. You'd never guess it was apple-based.

If I wanted to make some more sherry next year - what is the key to making it again?

  • When you say no record keeping, do you mean that you don't remember at all what you did with this batch in particular? It sounds like you you tried quite a few different things with different batches. – Franklin P Combs Jan 25 '15 at 20:08
  • correct... I usually have paper records attached to each demijohn with a rubber band.. but some bands broke labels got lost etc Herself moved them around and I lost track of which was which. I thought I'd remember... but I didn't... I suppose the real question is what exactly is it that makes a good sheery - oxidation is part of it I think, but there must be something more. – Dave45 Jan 25 '15 at 20:30
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You don't mention specifics of sanitation in your description above, but you do mention the "warming" of some of the raw juice to desolve extra sugar. This implies that the rest of your raw juice was not warmed. Was all of the raw juice ever boiled to remove the natural yeast and other fawna from the skins? If not, your medium sherry might be the result of a wild yeast overwhelming the store bought yeasts which fermented the rest of your batches.

I know that some cider makers rely on those natural yeasts as their primary fermenting agents, which always sounded risky to me.

Another possible explanation involves temperature. Assuming that you kept all of your bottles together during their fermentation, was the sherry bottle closer to a heat source than the others. Extra heat can allow the yeast to breed faster, producing a dryer end result than the same ingredients and time would produce in a cooler environment. That extra heat might have come from the bottle being close to an external heat source or by its being surrounded (and therefore insulated) by the other fermenting bottles in close proximity.

  • The original apple juice was produced by steam extraction which pretty much sterilises it ! Wild yeast could have got in at a later stage though, but it would have to overwhelm the stuff that was already there. All the demijohns were in similar locations on the kitchen floor. – Dave45 Jan 25 '15 at 22:40

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