Wine, not whine

19 Aug

Last year I managed to get about a glass-full of wine from the grapes on my vines. It was the worst summer on record. This year I have many times as many grapes and should produce some good wine, once the grapes have fully ripened, probably in late October.

I am never going to be a major producer, and will not even produce enough for my own consumption. A neighbour has a third of an acre devoted to grapes and has his own press. He normally makes about two hundred cases of wine and has won prizes.

Making wine is one of the easiest things you can do. There is yeast already ion the grape skins, so that once you have crushed and pressed the grapes to extract the juice the extracted liquid produced starts fermenting naturally. Bung the juice in a sealed vessel with an air-lock and leave it for a month or two until it has finished fermenting. Siphon off the wine, leaving the residue and bung it in bottles. Of course making very good wine requires skill and dedication, but my wine is pretty good, especially when I manage to keep it over a year.

In my fridge there is a bottle of wine made by my brother in law from grapes from a vine I gave him, from a cutting. He used a recipe which included additional sugar and used a commercial yeast. He said it was probably a bit sweet. As I said above, there isn’t really a recipe for wine, as the grapes start fermenting without any intervention from me. The wine I produce is around 10% alcohol, and bone dry. The grapes are Riesling type (Sylvaner) and are normally presented as a sweetish wine such as Liebfraumilch. Riesling can be used to make desert wines of great flavour, like an Aussie Sticky at nearly 20% alcohol.

On a slightly different topic, the cultivated blackberries are very nearly ready. When they are it will be time to make jam again.

The damsons, little dark purple plums will be ready quite shortly and the apples will be ready soon. Some are falling already. I wish they would keep a little better. They are cooking apples and I will do a swap with some of the neighbours for eating apples. Where we are is surrounded by hundreds of acres of apples used to make cider. Maybe I shall attempt to make some cider from windfalls this year, taking advice from a friend who has just retired after working for a cider company, looking after the orchards. I will let you know how the wine making goes.

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