I made my first batch of country wine this summer, with my daughter in a carrier on my back and during her nap times, using drought-stifled tart plums. I’d read quite a bit about the basics, and John Seymour’s description of the simple, forgiving process appealed to me greatly. That and the self-sufficiency aspect– beer and wine aren’t cheap, and anything made in my own kitchen brings that much more gratification.
My husband was skeptical, to say the least, when he eyed my bucketful of hard olive-like fruits and heard my plan.
That first batch yielded a case and a half of warmly golden wine that had a robust alcohol content and was decent-tasting at bottling time and more delicious as each week went by.
As quickly as it transformed, I was making new brews: rosehip and apple and Chinese date. Some were roughly palatable, full of potential with some age. (See? Never a failure, even when it doesn’t come out great.) The apple is a bit sweet, but effervescent and sublimely pure– you can actually taste the Golden Delicious nuances of the apple.
Pumpkin spice wine now sputters away in a carboy in our dining room, and my husband’s first mead project is starting to ferment (look for more on each of these here soon.) Persimmon and mint are on-deck.
These projects are intensely satisfying. I love walking through the room and meeting the evolving, pungent scent of fruit and alcohol wafting away from yeast hard at work. I love the fizz, and the raucous created by a good, aerating stir twice a day.
Working with yeast provides a whole different excitement apart from cooking. With fermentation, you are the sous chef, not the chef. The yeast do all the work when given the right tools and a little love.