Thursday, 25 October 2012

Home-made wine

Writing yesterday's post about Uncle Jim, the keen amateur wine-maker, brought back memories of my father who also made many a gallon of the stuff.

I well remember our airing cupboard being crowded out by demijohns of fermenting wine, the airlocks popping away, releasing a fruity aroma which became quite heady at times. Dad put a lot of effort into it, trying out numerous recipes and ingredients. He once read somewhere that a ripe banana would help the fermentation process along, so then all the demijohns had their decayed bananas floating up and down in the murky depths.

Unlike Uncle Jim, Dad always bottled his wine after fermentation. For some some reason he'd label each bottle before leaving it to mature for a week or two. I think the labels were mainly Mum's idea, because she had a romantic notion that they would eventually build up a cellar of fine vintages to be brought out and dusted off on special occasions. It never happened though.

The problem was marrying production to consumption, because both Mum and Dad were partial to a glass or two in the evening.

The results however, were somewhat variable, although once made, wine was never wasted whatever the quality. One technique Mum used to lessen a dodgy wine's attack on her palate was to add a teaspoon of sugar to each glass before drinking. Even Dad sometimes had to resort to the sugar and he was a chap who consumed raw lemons with gusto.

In extreme cases, Mum would give up and decline her evening glass, but Dad never threw away even the most ghastly brews. In the worst cases, his technique was to hold his nose while drinking, which he said lessened the impact and allowed him to get the stuff down. 

Mind you, these were the worst brews of all and on the whole the stuff was drinkable and sometimes quite pleasant, if not usually up to the standard of commercial wines. Eventually Dad discovered tins of grape concentrate produced specially for home wine-making. Once he used those, the quality of his wines improved, but somehow I think the point of doing it became lost.

Whatever it was, he eventually gave up on home wine-making and just bought it from the supermarket, as most of us do these days. I still see plenty of wine-making kit on sale in the shops though. I used to make it myself with mixed results - just don't mention dandelion wine. 

I haven't made wine for years now - too busy doing other things I suppose - like blogging. This internet thingy does consume a lot of time. 


Anonymous said...

If it stops you wasting your time making home-made vinegar, AK, then I approve, and your friends, no doubt, will celebrate with a choice from the hundreds of properly made wines with which we are blessed these days!

James Higham said...

Think that one is best left to you, though wines are expensive these days.

A K Haart said...

David - vinegar would have been more useful than the dandelion wine.

James - too much tax.