Herbs are well-known for their medicinal and healing benefits. Moderate wine consumption has also been shown to improve heart health, reduce stroke risk, and reduce mortality rates from all causes. Herbal wine allows you to combine the benefits of both wine and herbs. Herbal wine has been consumed for its health benefits since very ancient times. Recently, archaeochemists analyzed wine jars more than 5,000 years old that were found in the tomb of one of Egypt’s first pharaohs. The researchers found that the jars once contained herbal wines. Scientists believe that herbs such as mint, sage, coriander and savory were probably added to grape wine to make the herbal wine. Wine jugs from later periods also appear to have contained herbal wines. Clearly, herbal wines have been consumed for their medical benefits for a very long time.
Making Herbal Wines
There are two ways to make herbal wines. The quickest and easiest way is to make it the way the ancient Egyptians did. First you have to decide what herbs you want to use. Different herbs have different medicinal properties, so you want to use herbs that address your medical issues or that you use as part of your overall health maintenance strategy. Many people who use herbal wines make several different kinds. Others combine several herbs together to make a herbal wine tailored to their needs. Regardless of which strategy you pursue, you will need grape wine and fresh herbs to make herbal wine. You will also need a large glass jar with a lid. Sterilize both the jar and the lid. Clean, wash and dry your selected herbs. Place them in the glass jar. Pour wine over the herbs until they are completely covered. Most people use a red grape wine because it contains resveratrol. But white wine contains antioxidants and provides health benefits as well, so you can use it if you wish. Once you have covered the herbs with the wine, seal the jar with the lid. Wait two weeks. You may then begin consuming the herbal wine. Add more grape wine as needed to keep the herbs covered to prevent mold growth. A dose of about three ounces a day should provide you with benefits from both the herbs and the wine.
Fermenting Herbal Wine
You can also ferment herbal wine. This process involves much more work and takes much longer to obtain a final product than infusing grape wine with herbs. However, some people prefer this method. Wine making kits and books are available at reasonable prices online and in stores specializing in brewing and wine making. A simple recipe requires a gallon of fresh herbs, two gallons of water, a packet of wine yeast, and four pounds of sugar. Raw sugar may be used and there are recipes that allow you to use honey instead of sugar. You will also need a large container. A ceramic crock is best, although a bucket made of food grade plastic can be used. Place the herbs in the container, boil the water, and pour the boiling water over the herbs. Cover the container and let the herbs steep for three days. Then strain the mix using a sieve or cheese cloth. Squeeze as much liquid out of the herbs as possible. Boil the strained liquid, add the sugar and stir until it is dissolved. The sugar will ferment into the alcohol. When the liquid is warm, add the yeast according to the instructions on the packet. Pour this mix into a large crock or glass container that has been sterilized with bleach water or boiling water. Cover with a lid, plastic wrap secured with rubber bands or a clean towel. Let the liquid sit for at least four weeks. Then siphon or pour the liquid into sterilized glass jars. Place sterilized lids on the jars but only tighten them half way as fermentation may not be complete. If the lids are too tight the gases from fermentation may cause the jars to explode. Wait two months before tightening the lids. Wait an additional four months, and you can begin drinking the wine.
Children should not consume wine. Pregnant women should not consume wine without first consulting a physician. Never drive after drinking wine. If you gather wild herbs, be absolutely certain of the identity of the plants that you harvest. Some plants that are highly poisonous closely resemble some commonly used herbs. Neither steeping in wine nor fermenting will neutralize the poisons in these plants.