My urban-homesteading heart is so full, it might burst. This weekend combined two of my favorite things: urban foraging and wine making [insert girlie squeal here].
Mid-August means three things at the Tropical Homestead: Brain-melting heat, hair-frizzing humidity, and wild fox grapes. These darling little fruits make me forget the first two and cause me to wander aimlessly through my city looking for the tell-tale vine that overtakes pine trees, chainlink fences, and slow-moving pedestrians.
Riley and Griff usually venture out with me, but sooner or later (who am I kidding? It’s always sooner) they succumb to summertime laziness and/or dehydration and I’m left alone to tromp through urban jungles for my prize.
And what a prize it is.
This year was mild and warm, so the grapes were bigger and less tart. After canning a small batch of grape jelly, I thought I might attempt a small batch of wine.
Thanks to the magic of the Internet, I found a recipe for wild wine that I adapted.
I washed the grape clusters and picked out the leaves.
Leaving the stems on, I covered with spring water and brought to a boil, then reduced the heat until the skins cracked. The kitchen smelled super grape-y at this point. Bonus.
The next step I just call “LISSY-SMASH!” I pretended to have green skin and proceeded to decimate all those little delicate orbs I lovingly picked by hand just a few hours before. Sorry to offend your sensitive nature, but it’s basic Circle of Life stuff. You have to harden yourself to these eventualities if you want to be self-sufficent.
The mash goes through a strainer and then through cheesecloth or muslin. I have procured a specialty strainer. It’s called an old pillowcase. Just as effective.
Then the juice is measured, and matched in up to a 1:1 ratio with sugar. Remember, these aren’t table grapes, they are tart. If you like a drier wine, you can always reduce the sugar, like I did. Once the mixture of juice and sugar cooled, I added Montrachet yeast and a bit of water. And a green balloon for a splash of color.
Now I just need to wait for the bubbling action to cease and probably rack it one more time before bottling. Then comes the fun part: drinking, singing, dancing and stories. Cheers!