It is grape season! Vineyards are having events along with the U of M to celebrate wine grapes.
I know very little about wine. I like light, sweet and bubbly wine. I don't like dry wines. I like the wine that is made by the Italian dude that comes in a gallon glass bottle- Carlo Rossi. My wife likes dry wine. When I go get wine I don't like to buy too much, but we don't always agree on what to buy. I learned a trick in bartending school- pour soda in your wine. So I buy a dry wine and fill my glass with half wine and the rest with 7 UP. That is my basic knowledge of wines. From listening to The Splendid Table, I think you have had to have a few bottles of wine to start to appreciate the different tastes... and it will cost some money.
I have seven grapevines in my yard. We have have fresh eating grapes and wine grapes. We have: Niagara, Catawba, St. Croix (2), Edelweiss, Frontenac and Marquette grapes. We harvest all of our grapes and throw them in a large bucket and make something out of all of them. Last year it was good jelly. This year it's wine.
I bought this book last year called, "Wild Fermentation," by Sandor Ellix Kraut. I have said this before on this blog and I will say it again: Dude is good! He has a recipe for Ethiopian wine, made from honey and water. It's straight honey and water. I made a batch last year. I made the quick version and did not let it age. I should have let it age; I did not "appreciate" the taste. The wine I am making now I am gonna make off that recipe, bottle it and let it age.
I just harvested our grapes. We are in the process of selling the land our "vineyard" is on and we want to take the "vineyard" with us. While harvesting our grapes I pruned all the vines way down to transport them. They grew awesome this year. I am not sure where we are going to put them yet. I know I won't plant them all in the yard we have with the rental house. I am thinking guerrilla gardening stuff. If you have any ideas or may want one let me know.
I took the grapes off the clusters and washed them. I ran the grapes through a food mill getting out over three quarts of juice. I poured the juice in a large stock pot and cover it with a clean t-shirt. I let that sit on the shelf for a few days gathering wild yeast. I mixed in just over 3 cups of raw honey and let it continue to sit on the shelf a few days until it got nice and bubbly. The very top of the wine is very frothy and you should mix that in twice a day. The smell of this stuff was wonderful! It was like wine. It smelled like grape juice, honey, and alcohol. I put my head in that pot several times a day to get a good whiff. After it gathered the yeast I poured it into a Carlo Rossi wine bottle. It's a 4 liter, which is just over a gallon, glass jug. I got it with wine for $12. Then I put an airlock on the top and put it in the pantry. It has been consistently letting gas go every 1-2 seconds, 24/7 since I capped it with the airlock It's pretty cool to pop my head in the pantry and see it doing its thing. I will leave it like that for a month or so then siphon it into bottles. After the siphoning I will age it for 18 months or so.
I want to mention why I use wild yeast. There are a couple of reasons: The first is that it's free. It comes from where I live, this drink will taste like my land. The second is I want to do things myself. If I can get a "excellent" wine yeast from Italy, or where ever good wine yeast come from and keep it alive or allow it to multiply- I will think about it. I don't want to be dependent on living near a home-brew shop and I don't want to be told which yeast will give me the best wine. I am doing this to be free from marketing and trends. I just want to make a descent tasting alcoholic beverage.
I invite you to make your own homemade wine and let it age. We can get drunk together in the summer of 2013. We can bring our mystery-tasting wines together and have a unveiling. If you say you have no grape vines in your yard- I say there are a lot of wild grapes in Minnesota. I have seen some in parks in Saint Paul, a State Park in Saint Paul and I was up near the river in Anoka foraging for sumac and I stumbled across some as-well. Or you could buy some wine grapes from vineyards or some grocery stores.