Preserving fruits from the garden and orchard by making them into refreshing drinks or tonics was considered a suitable occupation for ladies. As a result, the personal recipe books kept by well-to-do women give numerous recipes for distilled drinks.
Initially, fruit juice was simply added to grape wine to sweeten or flavour it.
As sugar became more readily available, fruit wines were made by fermenting crushed garden fruits in their own natural yeasts and adding sugar. This was necessary to ensure the required sweetness for alcoholic wine.
Anonymous recipe book, around 1797. [Library reference: MS.1881]