Weekend o’ tasks


I took Halloween off, not for any particular reason other than the fine suggestion to take a 3-day weekend every month.  This month, I opted to focus on lots of tasks: I painted my bat houses; had Gerry over for dinner and to take a look at the bat houses and help figure out how to hang them; got a long-overdue haircut; took down the raspberry canes (ouch); did some cooking for the week to come; spent a lovely time at the last farmers’ market of the season with Kim (and then went for drinks at a lovely little Francophilic art bar called La Cour), and, most importantly for the purposes of this here blog, bottled some wine.

bottled red currant2 bottled red currant

The red currant here is a really lovely color, so I put it in clear bottles.  I don’t have many , apparently because I drink a lot more red, so there was some rattling around to find enough.  You can see in the second photo that I over-filled one bottle and the cork wouldn’t go all the way in, so I had to take the cork out, pour off a little excess wine, and then re-cork.  I have a little set aside from the rackings, which was good because I was a little short on the final bottle, and also because I then had a place to put the excess from that over-full bottle– probably the final one, overfilled in my excitement to have a use for the excess.

I wasn’t entirely sure the cherry had actually cleared– it’s very dark red, but I didn’t SEE any sediment, so what the heck, right?  I had some left when I finished bottling, so I poured myself a big glass and had it as I cooked dinner for Gerry.  (I was trying to get the light through the bottles to show the color off here, not to be unnecessarily artsy in my photography.)

bottled cherry


Mom contributed Greek pizza, corn pudding, green beans, and sauteed cherry tomatoes, and I made sesame salmon and brownies, and also cooked the beans and tomatoes she brought down.  I think things went quite nicely for someone cooking on an empty stomach and a big glass of wine.  Said wine is still quite harsh, but the flavors are nice.  I don’t get much cherry taste from it, but we’ll see after it ages some more.  Gerry tried some and reckoned that it tasted like a nice dry red, though to be fair, the last time he had a glass of wine was probably 1987.  (He drinks alcohol-free beer.)  Half of this goes to Kim tonight, after I label and bottle, since she and I took the class in which we made this together. (We had to switch up our girls’ night this week– that starts happening a lot this time of year.)

I also racked the dandelion again, since the addition of bentonite made it clear up quite nicely.  Alas, I apparently forgot to take a picture.  I hope it’s ready to bottle soon, too!  It’s a lovely golden color but I think I only have 2 clear bottles left, so unless I can get through 3 more bottles of white or rose soon, it may have to go in green.  That said, I may bring a bottle of white tonight to help us along.  Kirsten usually brings a red or rose, though often those are in screw-top bottles that I can’t use.  Pictures for sure when I bottle, in any case.  I’ll also start a new gallon of Concord soon, since I finally have some growlers free, and am kind of desperately in need of freezer space.


Malbec and cleared red currant wine



(Sorry for the hasty photo.  You can see the edge of a jar of tahini, and my blender features almost as prominently as the wines.)

Finally we’ve drunk something I helped make!  Last night, we had dinner at Jen’s and I brought a bottle of the Horse-Key Malbec that Kim and I made in our first wine-making class back in February at Wine and Whey.  It’s a kit wine, which is why we could drink it so early, and we weren’t exactly on our own when we made it– W&W’s Katrina taught, and there were 4 other women in the class.  Still, we did help to make it, and Kim designed our excellent tags.  (Horse-Key is the name of a club we made up when we were very small.  We liked horses and were latchkey kids.  She was Arabian Anderson, I was Foal Frank, Kirsten was Pony Logan, and Jen somehow missed out on the whole thing.)  I love how the key has a kind of horse shape.

Anyway, so the wine itself was quite nice.  It wasn’t quite as deep and complex as a Malbec from a commercial concern, but I suppose that’s kind of the deal with kit wines.  You can have success but you probably any international competitions.  I think a lot of serious kit wine-makers also customize their brews, sort of like adding chocolate chips to a boxed cake mix.  But I, of course, don’t use boxed cake mixes, and my default setting is making things from scratch (food and drink, anyway; maybe not bookshelves) so I’m not likely to continue with the kits.  I already feel a little like I’m cheating because I’m planning to make my beers with malt concentrate instead of from whole grains, and like the wine I made from frozen blueberries somehow counts less.  This is all quite silly because I wouldn’t feel that way about anyone else’s attempts, but there you are.

The other important piece to this hasty photo (the blender is new, if that matters) is the lovely  cleared overflow of the red currant wine.  I think I might want to rack these, but how does one rack mason jars?  I might try the very sophisticated method of pouring.  Mostly I am pleased by the color, and by the fact that these two smaller containers cleared so quickly.  The wine still tastes quite rough and tart, but I’m hopeful that that means it will age itself into a nice crisp rosé.

I’ve been reading Ben’s Adventures in Wine-Making (there’s a book as well as the excellent blog), and Ben does a Christmas Tutti-Fruti every year, which I think is brilliant.  I will begin collecting extra fruit in the freezer, and am excited to have a potential new tradition for the holiday.  I already have a little over 5 oz. of red currants, but since I now have something to do with them besides vague thoughts of jam and pie, I will harvest more soon.  I saw some cherries in a yard recently while walking the dogs, too, so I might see if I can get up the courage to ask those folks if I can harvest some.  I’m sure I also saw a mulberry tree on a recent dog walk, but for the life of me I can’t remember where.  So at this point, I am reasonably confident my Christmas Tutti-Fruit will have red currants and raspberries, which potentially makes it a mere Bi-Fruti, but we shall see.