I’ve seen recipes for wine jellies in several canning recipe books all summer long. Why make jelly out of wine? Why not! It’s way simpler than making grape jelly. Plus, it tastes like wine 🙂
In order to make traditional jellies, you have to cook down the fruit, then pass it through a fine mesh sieve or jelly bag to get all of the pulp out. Sometimes this process can take two or more times to get a clear juice. Sugar and pectin is then added to the juice to make it into jelly.
With wine, you have the benefit of getting a complex, fruity flavor without all the time consuming steps to extract the juice from the grapes (thanks to the winemakers). The result is a jelly unlike no other. The flavor is a sweet, concentrated wine flavor that goes well with sweet or savory dishes. Which type of wine do you use? Any type you enjoy drinking! This recipe can be adapted for red or white wine. You can change the herb combinations to match the wine.
Check out this herb-wine paring chart from Mother Earth Living.
Jellies Need A lot of Sugar
Yes, this recipe has a bunch of sugar in it and liquid pectin. Let’s face it: wine has no pectin. So, in order for it to jellify, it needs a bit of help. I’m going to get a little geeky on you now with a bit of canning science.
Sugar has three functions in a jam/jelly recipe. It’s a sweetener (duh), it helps the jelly set and it acts an preserving agent. Yes, it’s what helps keep dangerous bacteria like botulism from growing. Sugar sucks up the available water in a recipe, thus eliminating the environment for molds and bacteria to grow. For safely reasons, you should never reduce the sugar in a canning recipe. If it is too much sugar for your taste, find another recipe.
I also use commercial pectin in this jelly. Why? Because I wanted my jelly to have a firm set. Again, wine has no pectin. In order for the jelly to set, it must have pectin, sugar and acid. Commercial pectin has the right amount of jelling agents and acid to help the jelly to set up correctly. Could you substitute the sugar and pectin with a alternative? Partly. You may use natural sugars (like honey) or high pectin fruits (like pears or apples) to replace part of the sugar in recipes, but too much can overwhelm the flavor of the wine and alter the gel structure. Also, the “set” may be looser than what you expect.
Brew the Herbs
My wine jelly is savory/sweet. In order to infuse the herbs’ taste into the wine, you must “brew” if first. How much herbs do you need? It depends on how herby you want the final product to be. If using fresh herbs, you will need more than you would if using dried herbs. Bring the wine to a light boil and then cut off the heat. Add the herbs to the wine and let it brew for at least 30 minutes.
A few recipe notes:
The black pepper is optional. If you are not a fan, skip it. This jelly is very versatile. Go ahead and experiment with different herb and spice combinations.
If you are going to use a white wine, replace the red wine vinegar in the recipe with a white or champagne vinegar.
Jellies and jam foam up quite a bit. You are supposed to “skim the foam” as it cooks to eliminate it. Another way to do so is to add 1 tsp of butter to the mixture before you heat it. Sometimes I remember and sometimes I don’t. Nonetheless, the foam can be scraped off once the jelly stops boiling too.
You do not have to add herbs or spices to the wine jelly. By all means, make it straight up with your favorite bottle of wine. I guarantee it will make a grown-up PB &J like no other!
I love this jelly with cream cheese and crackers. It will also taste great on roasted meats like pork or chicken. I used a fruity, semi-dry Pinot Noir which traditionally pairs well with a wide range of foods from fish, poultry to wild game. It’s my favorite all around wine. Wine jellies make awesome, homemade gifts for wine lovers. Definitely keep a few jars of these as the holiday season approaches.