Orange wine

Oranges have long been given as Christmas gifts. As expensive imports, these citrus fruits were highly prized in the 18th century. An orange, given as a gift – perhaps in the form of a clove-studded pomander – would not only bring scents of summer and vibrant colour to the home of the recipient, but would also be considered a symbol of prosperity.

Today, the tradition of giving oranges at Christmas is still strong and many children living in the UK will wake up on Christmas morning to find an orange, clementine or tangerine at the toe of their stocking.

If you are short of ideas for Christmas presents, or want a grown-up twist on the traditional ‘orange in a stocking’ idea, why not consider a cask of orange wine? You’ve still just about got time to prepare and tun it before the big day!

A recipe for orange wine from The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies

A recipe for orange wine from The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies

To Make Orange Wine

Take forty gallons of water, a hundred best Jam[aic]a sugar, the whites of 32 eggs beaten well. Mix all thes together. Pare two hundred and forty oranges very thin. Boil the liquor an hour & skim it while any skim rises, then pour it on the rind of the oranges & when it is neare cold, strain 12 quarts of orange juice into it & barm it rather warmer than you would ale. Stir it twice a day for 3 days, then tun it the third day. When it has done working in the cask, put in seven quarts of brandy. This quantity makes a barrel. There will be some liquor left after tunning, which must be carefully kept to fill your cask while working. If it should not work well in the tubs, tun it sooner than the 3 days. If the oranges be large, you need not pare so many.

5 thoughts on “Orange wine

  1. Below is a recipe I have done for several years for Christmas giving using oranges that I found at It’s a little late for Christmas this year, but is an excellent meade (or Melomel) nonetheless, for spring. Takes 2 months or so to brew. And I reccomend a month in the bottle, in the cellar. Not long. Oh, and it will get ya there!
    Joe’s Ancient Orange and Spice Mead

    A little caveat before we continue. This recipe flies in the face of
    just about all standard brewing methods used to make consistent and
    good Meads. It was created by Joe Mattioli to make a fast and tasty
    drink out of ingredients found in most kitchens. It is therefore
    perfect for the beginner, which has resulted in it being perhaps the
    most popular Mead recipe available on the internet. As Joe himself
    says “It is so simple to make and you can make it without much
    equipment and with a multitude of variations. This could be a first
    Mead for the novice as it is almost foolproof. It is a bit unorthodox
    but it has never failed me or the friends I have shared it with.
    (snip)…it will be sweet, complex and tasty.” Follow the
    instructions exactly as provided and you cannot go wrong. If you want
    to make larger batches, just scale up the recipe keeping all
    ingredients in the same proportion.

    1 gallon batch

    3 1/2 lbs Clover or your choice honey or blend (will finish sweet)
    1 Large orange (later cut in eights or smaller, rind and all)
    1 small handful of raisins (25 if you count but more or less ok)
    1 stick of cinnamon
    1 whole clove ( or 2 if you like – these are potent critters)
    optional – a pinch of nutmeg and allspice (very small )
    1 teaspoon of Fleishmann’s bread yeast ( now don’t get holy on me—
    after all this is an ancient mead and that’s all we had back then)
    Balance water to one gallon


    Use a clean 1 gallon carboy

    Dissolve honey in some warm water and put in carboy

    Wash orange well to remove any pesticides and slice in eights –add
    orange (you can push em through opening big boy — rinds included —
    its ok for this mead — take my word for it — ignore the experts)

    Put in raisins, clove, cinnamon stick, any optional ingredients and
    fill to 3 inches from the top with cold water. ( need room for some
    foam — you can top off with more water after the first few days

    Shake the heck out of the jug with top on, of course. This is your
    sophisticated aeration process.

    When at room temperature in your kitchen, put in 1 teaspoon of bread
    yeast. ( No you don’t have to rehydrate it first– the ancients didn’t
    even have that word in their vocabulary– just put it in and give it a
    gentle swirl or not)(The yeast can fight for their own territory)

    Install water airlock. Put in dark place. It will start working
    immediately or in an hour. (Don’t use grandma’s bread yeast she bought
    years before she passed away in the 90’s – wait 3 hours before you
    panic or call me) After major foaming stops in a few days add some
    water and then keep your hands off of it. (Don’t shake it! Don’t mess
    with them yeastees! Let them alone except its okay to open your
    cabinet to smell every once in a while.

    Racking — Don’t you dare
    additional feeding — NO NO
    More stirring or shaking — Your not listening, don’t touch

    After 2 months and maybe a few days it will slow down to a stop and
    clear all by itself. (How about that, you are not so important after
    all) Then you can put a hose in with a small cloth filter on the end
    into the clear part and siphon off the golden nectar. If you wait long
    enough even the oranges will sink to the bottom but I never waited
    that long. If it is clear it is ready. You don’t need a cold basement.
    It does better in a kitchen in the dark. (Like in a cabinet), likes a
    little heat (70-80). If it didn’t work out… you screwed up and
    didn’t read my instructions (or used grandma’s bread yeast she bought
    years before she passed away) . If it didn’t work out then take up
    another hobby. Mead is not for you. It is too complicated.
    If you were successful, which I am 99% certain you will be, then enjoy
    your mead. When you get ready to make different mead you will probably
    have to unlearn some of these practices I have taught you, but hey—
    This recipe and procedure works with these ingredients so don’t knock
    it. It was your first mead. It was my tenth. Sometimes, even the
    experts can forget all they know and make good ancient mead.

    And there you have it. You have made your first Mead. Now come the
    steps that must be followed to make a good, and eventually a great
    P.S. I do this in 5 gallon batches. I just multiply the recipie. 1 gallon is definitely not enough.

  2. P.S.S. Do make sure that your brewing area and bottling equipment is very clean, I use bleach on the counters and a betadine solution for the bottles and equipment. A restaurant brewers’ supply store should have everything you need.

  3. P.S.S.S. I (and my husband) have also modified this recipe to make a Blueberry-Vanilla Melomel and a Lemon-Stawberry. Both of which turned out ver tasty. Would be happy to advise if anyone had questions. By the way, howdy from “across the pond.”

  4. Pingback: History A'la Carte 1-30-14 - Random Bits of Fascination

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