Grape wine, for a change


Busy weekend!  It started with the picking of grapes, and it’s a good thing Jolyon was eager to help, because there were a lot of grapes to be had.  We wound up with 21 pounds, 15.4 ounces of mostly Concords and a few bunches of Leon Millot.

lots of grapes

There was much lifting of vines while the other person harvested.  I have renewed respect for the people who do this at commercial operations!  I think we got nearly all of them, but I’m sure there are hidden clusters still left for the birdies and beasties.  The dogs certainly keep managing to find bits that we then have to talk them out of eating. Since my recipe calls for 6 pounds of grapes per gallon of wine, I made the final not-quite-four-pounds into a disappointingly runny grape conserve, though it does taste good.  (I was apparently so disappointed, though, that I didn’t take a picture.)

The other 18 pounds will become 3 gallons of wine.  I’m doing single gallons at a time, since that’s what my recipe is for and I didn’t want to fuss about with multiplying quantities, so 12 pounds is now added to the Freezer of Insanity: freezer of insanity.  There’s still enough apple in there for another gallon of wine, too, plus some redcurrants, raspberries, pea pods, and probably some other stuff I can’t quite remember.  And that knob of ginger, which has nothing to do with wine.  It actually started out pretty tidy and organized in there, but now it’s enough to make professional organizers weep.

Anyway, so on Saturday, I also picked more raspberries and bought more cayenne peppers, so I canned up some goodness.

raspberry jam and sririacha

That’s chocolate-raspberry sundae topping on the left (we use it as jam, mostly) and more Sriracha on the right.  I’ll get a picture of the runny grape conserve, too.  It’s a lovely deep purple, but since it’s so thin, all the walnuts keep floating to the top.

Interestingly, all this made the kitchen so hot that I noticed the Peach Perfection started really actively fermenting again, bubbling and fizzing away, instead of the quiet swirl it’s been doing.  Once the temperature was back to normal, it resumed its slower ferment.  I’ve read that cooler, slower ferments are thought to make better-tasting wines, so I’ll try to keep it a bit cooler in there, or maybe move the carboy somewhere else.  It needs another pound of sugar soon, which will mean taking some liquid out.  Like I said, it’s a peculiar recipe.

After dinner and a few minutes’ rest (harvesting and canning is hard work!), I started my first gallon of non-country wine.  The grapes are mashed up a bit in the bag here, with the Campden, sugar, water, yeast nutrient, and pectic enzyme added. 



I was a little worried about the color, even though it ferments on for quite a while.  Jolyon reckons it looks like a dragon’s eye, especially with the reflection from the flash.  Anyway, I needn’t have worried.  24 hours later, I pitched the yeast (Montrachet– I will try other kinds for the other batches, for the sake of experimentation) and it was a much nicer color.


It is still a little punch-like, but I am reassured that the skins really are enough to color and flavor the wine.  Which, of course, is exactly how it happens with commercial wines, but I guess I feared there was something different about my grapes or my technique or whatever.  (You know, needless worrying about nothing.  It’s a great skill of mine.)  I’m enjoying the color change with this, so I’ll try to remember to keep documenting it.  

For some reason, I’m particularly anxious about this, my first batch of regular wine.  I shouldn’t be, really, since I have 2 more batches to do, and since this seems to be a fairly typical year for my lovely old established vine.  But I guess because it’s Real Wine, albeit of a bit less typical variety, it just feels different.

The apple wine is still fermenting pretty actively, so I’ll keep it in its primary for a while longer.  I may rack a few things that haven’t been racked for a while soon, too. Maybe that will encourage the dandelion to clear.  It’s taking forever!

I’m still slowly adding raspberries to the freezer.  I may never have enough for wine, since we keep eating them fresh and making them into jam.  (Okay, just that one batch, and that was only 4.5 cups, but still.)  Also, I’ve always told neighbors to help themselves to the fruit, and the wine calls for 4 pounds.  So I guess we’ll just have to see.  I’ll keep gathering, eating some and freezing others, and see where that gets me.  With everything I’ve got going, I guess you can’t say I’m hurting for wines.


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