Home Made Grape Wine – A Treat For X’mas And Other Times

Home Made Grape Wine

A  sip of  home made   wine   and a  slice of  X’mas  fruit  cake  is  something  we look forward  to  every year.   The  fruit cake is   rich full of  spices and  studded  with  dried  fruits  while  the  home  made  wine  is  full bodied  with  just a  hint  of  spices.  This grape  wine  locally known as Munthiri wine is brewed  with  care at  homes in the western ghats.  One  does  not  have to an expert  to make  this  and  to be  fair it  is  more of a  desert   than an alcoholic  beverage.  Grapes, sugar  and a  touch of  spice  – these  are  all you need.  There is a  secret  ingredient  her – time – a  few  weeks  of it  to be  exact  –  but  all that  wait is entirely worth it.

Where I grew up, this  kind  of  home  brewing  was something  half  the  population  did,  while  the  other  half raised  their  eyebrows and   wished  someone  would  force  them to   try it.  We  humans  very resourceful, especially when  it  comes  to  our  favorite  drinks.  So don’t  be  surprised if  that bottle of   arishtam – the  Ayurvedic medicinal  drink –  that  you found  tucked  away  in the  corner of  kitchen  cabinet  at aunt M’s place  turns  out  to be  something   entirely different.

Coming  back to the  wine  in hand – I remember my mom  fermenting   gooseberries   with spices  to make  this  delicious Nellikka Arishtam. Goose berries  were rumored  to be   powerhouses of  nutrition and  what  a  delicious  way to  make  us  all  take  it! It  wasn’t  until we  all left  home  that  she  decided  to  take   wine making   more  seriously!  Makes  you wonder  what  brought  it  on !   Any how  the  last  time  I visited   she  had  this  amazing   chambakka (rose apple) wine  waiting  for  me. Love  you  AMMA – you are the best ♥

Getting  back  to my wine  journey  a little  over a  decade  ago we  had  planted a  couple  grape  wines  in our  backyard.  Only  one  of  them took  and  we  found  out  that it  produced these  nice  plump  concorde  grapes,  the only catch was the  seeds.  Kids ( and  some  grownups) now  seem  to be  offended  by the  errand  seed!   Apparently  we  become  such  fragile   creatures  that  a  few  seeds  can  ruin our  day!  Anyhow  the  end  result  was  that  after  the   first  few bunches  were  consumed   there  were  plenty left  over.

So there  I was left  with  about  60 lbs of  dark purple  grapes.  There are  some  resourceful ladies I know,  who   would  have  turned  these to raisins, or  made jams  and  squashes.  But  what  did I do ? Well  like  a proud  Malayali, I went  back to my roots  and made wine.  Was  that a mistake ? yes , big  time.  As it  turns out  I have  to make  it  every year..

Traditionally these  were  made  with equal  quantities of  fruit  and   sugar  and not aged  for  more  than  a  month.  The  end  result  was a  sweet  drink   with minute  traces of  alcohol.   The  same  concoction   when allowed  to  ferment   longer, 3  months  or  more,  develops  more  complex  flavors. When buying  this  from a  local bakery in  western  ghat,  chances  are you  are  getting  the  sweet  version,  with nary a trace of  alcohol.

Most  of  the  traditional recipes  call for  boiled   water  and  wheat  kernels  or  yeast as  starter.  In my experience organic  grapes  does  not  need  any  starter  as  the ambient  yeast  does a  great  job.  To me adding  commercial yeast  changes  the  microbial  content  and   the  final product  has one  flat  flavor  instead  of  the  more  complex, nuanced   flavors  each  crop and  season creates.

Another  thing  to  keep in mind  is    that often  times  the  grapes  that   we  get  from the   markets are  treated  with  chemical agents  to inhibit the growth of  fungi  and  bacteria.  These  prevent  fermentation.  Even  though   we  can use  product  to clean  out  the  chemicals  and  uadd yeast  to   kickstart  fermenting,  I would  not  go  down that  path. You see ,  that is   too much   work !  Home  brewing  is  all about  sitting  back and  enjoying  life.  Go out and look  for  organic  untreated  grapes. 

The process of   making  grape wine  is  pretty easy.  The  most important  part is  to  start  with everything  clean  and  dry.  The utensils,  fruit  and  anything  else   that  you  use  in the process  should  be  cleaned  and  dried. Wash  and  dry the grapes.  Layer the  grapes  and  sugar in the  container   in alternating  layers.   Top with a  layer of  sugar.  Make  sure  that  the  container  is  large    enough to  hold  the  fruits  and fill about  2/3 of  the  way.   This  is  an  additional insurance  against   spills.

Traditionally these  were  made in large ceramic  containers called bharani.   The  idea is  to  use  no reactive  containers.  I have seen   terracotta  and  ceramic   used  for this, never  plastic  or  metal. Here I have  used   glass.  When using  glass  containers  cover  it  with  clothes / brown paper bags  to  prevent  the  light  from  getting  in.  All you have  to   now  is  to  wait  for  the  yeast   and  bacteria  to  work their  magic.

Usually many  recipes  call for  mixing  the contents once a day  for a  few  days.  I  find  this  to be   unnecessary if  there is  enough  room  for  expansion  in the jar  and  the  CO2 generated  can  escape  without  causing  an explosion.  If you are  unsure check on the   jar   every other  day  for  the  first  week  and  open the lid  to   vent if  necessary.

Home Made Grape Wine001

Now  that is a  feast for the  eyes ! Strain the  clear  liquid –  and  well  enjoy !

Home Made Grape Wine

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Home Made Grape Wine

A home made festive wine typically enjoyed during X'mas.

Ingredients

Grapes - 500g (1 lb )
Sugar - 250 to 500 g (1 to 2 C)
Optional
Cinnamon Stick - 1
Cloves - 3

Instructions

Remove the grapes from the stem, wash and dry well.

Clean and dry a large non reactive jar (see notes).

Measure the sugar and set aside. Adjust sugar per taste, use equal amount in weight of the grapes for the sweet version.

Divide the sugar and grapes into equal number of portions. Take one portion of the grapes and place in the jar. Crush it lightly with the back of a wooden spoon so the juices begin to ooze out. Layer a portion of the sugar.

Repeat this process until all the fruit is used up. Crush the last layer of fruit and add the add the cinnamon stick and cloves. End with layer of sugar.

Close the lid and store in a dark place, away from light and heat.

24 hours later shake the jar lightly to distribute the sugar and spices evenly. Repeat this process for 5 days. If the mix froths to the top open the lid a little to vent. Close and return to the storage area.

Keep the jar undisturbed for at least 21 days. For more complex flavors keep it for 3 months. Open the jar and strain the juices into a clean dry bottle.

Serve chilled.

Notes

  • Use whole spices and organic grapes
  • Fill the jars only 2/3 of the way through.
  • Keep the jars away from sunlight. If using glass jars cover with brown paper bags or clothes to block light.

https://oventales.com/home-made-grape-wine/

After   staining  off  the  clear  liquid   usually the   fruit  is  squeezed  to  extract every  last  bit of  goodness  from it.   You could as  well ..  but the  second  extraction is not  the most  flavorful  one.

Disclaimer:   The  views  expressed  here are  my personal views and  needs  to  be taken with a pinch of  salt – or  a  bottle  of  good  wine as  the  case  may be.  While  open  to interpretation  please  use  your  judgement  when  making  and  consuming   alcoholic  beverages  and  at all time obey the  local   laws.

Home Made Grape Wine
Check out  more  Christmas  Recipes  from  around  the  world :
Xmas Treats

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