Saturday, January 16, 2016

Last of the Wine

Last night I opened the last bottle of the Dandelion Wine I made back in 2011. Since moving here to wine country I have not made a single batch of wine, mainly because between my job at the winery and the fruits of Big Ag's labor (he grows wine grapes), we need more wine like we need a hole in the head.

But dandelion, carrot, pear and other "country" wine is substantially different from commercially-processed grape wine in a couple of ways. Home fermenting and aging is more imperfect, and therefore country wine tends to be sweeter, with less alcohol. It's probably more like the wine our ancestors would have had on their dinner table. And it's a completely different taste. Rather like a full-bodied brandy, but with much less alcohol and therefore lacking that familiar alcohol "bite" brandy has to it. It's probably closer to a Maneshewitz-type wine, which will either thrill or revolt you, depending on your taste buds and preferences.

There are advantages to a lower-alcohol wine, the most important being that you can have a couple of glasses with dinner and not be under the table. Since I also add the bare minimum of sulfites, it's also much less likely to give you a stuffy nose. And the full and slightly sweet flavor really does pair well with an lot of different foods.

And you haven't tasted heaven until you've had pears poached in actual pear wine, I'm tellin' ya.

And so I've decided that this year I'm getting back into the home wine-making business, even if it's just a dozen or so bottles. I should have a good enough pear crop to make wine from, possibly even ollalieberries (I made some raspberry wine several years ago that was amazing, so I'm thinking this will be similar) and the cream of the crop, carrot wine, which tastes like the most amazing pinot grigio you've ever had....but at the same time, doesn't.

In vino, veritas is an old saying. In wine, life, whether it's cabernet or carrot. 

End of the Dandelion Wine. *sniffle*


  1. Carrot wine? I think that sounds fascinating! When I was a kid, and we lived in Georgia, my brother, sister, and I picked a whole mess of wild muscadines and my dad made wine from them. I only remember that he made the wine, and I don't remember how my mom said it tasted. Now I will have to remind myself to ask her, and to get more details.

    Did I tell you that I live next door to a winery? Have a glass of their 'fruit' on the end table beside right now.

    1. That's wonderful! I think as climate change sets in, you will see a lot more varietals that can be grown out here also being grown in your area. More fruit to enjoy! Carrot wine is good, carrots have enough residual sugar in them to process that sugar into alcohol nicely. But it is quite a bit stronger than some of the other country wines for some reason.

  2. I tend to be in the revolted camp with low alcohol, sweet wines. But I always like to try. I've tried dandelion, strawberry, blueberry (the worst, worst, worst), and one other weird one. I think it was kiwi. I had a half sip. Carrot wine, however, really intrigues me! I wonder where I can find some. I'll bet a carrot cake soaked in carrot wine is heaven. Hmmm...
    On the opposite end of the spectrum, I have a friend who makes homemade wine that is about 18% alcohol. And it's repulsive for other reasons! It tastes like sour juice with yeast. (J, if you happen to see this, I'm sorry).

    1. Oh dear! I have never had a batch of homemade wine go sour. In fact, I struggle to get complete fermentation, because let's face it, there IS such a thing as TOO sweet. Carrot wine is also called "carrot whiskey" because it's quite strong, but done right -- it's heaven.