I was once a fine winemaker. Alright, I was once a winemaker. Alright, I once made Tang cider. Remarkable stuff, by the way. It was research, you understand. I can almost imagine Dr. Astronaut brewing up a batch on the space station. I’ve made cider out of all kinds of things. I’ve made Meade a couple times (yum!) Cider is just a side line, though.
Wine is an endeavor that can span months, even years. J, M, and I tried our best for two years right after we graduated. We made furious wine for 24 months. We established a private winery in our basement. The best fruit to make wine out of is slightly over ripe. A monthly run through the public market got us bulk prices on mushy strawberries or squishy peaches. Combine the fruit with sugar, sliced limes/lemons, some other secret ingredients, and the musting was on! After some time, yeast and the liquid go into 5 gallon bottles with airlocks on them. After some more time, the basement smells of fresh custard, and the airlocks burp at each other in an alcoholic symphony.
Here are some of the types of wine that we made: Strawberry, Dandelion, Spiced Banana, Rhubarb, Rose, and Peach. J had all the winemaking equipment, all the recipes, too. Passed down through a Scottish grandfather, they were the foundation upon which our winery was founded. M and I had a cool, dry basement, so that became headquarters. We fanned out for weeks on trash night to find the counters and sinks that we needed to do a proper job of it. Suddenly, we had wine! We had a lot of wine! We had more wine than could be drunk by five 22 year olds. We needed a label if anyone was ever going to believe it was wine. We decided early on that our motto would be “Wine before it’s Time”, so we printed up a bunch of labels, and gave away any wine that made it past us.
Normally, the fermentation process is stopped at about 12% alcohol. We didn’t bother to stop our fermentation process, so some of our wines could get quite strong. The dandelion wine, where we used champagne yeast, was the strongest at about 36 proof. The best wines we made were the strawberry and Rose wines. If you’ve never tried a good flower wine, I highly recommend it.
I have never made wine out of grapes.