Wednesday, 28 October 2009


I have taken the plunge again and have a different kind of hubble bubble on the go. Well it is Hubble bubble season. I am dabbling with the wine making again and although I enjoy an occasional drink I actually like having a glass of good home made wine with my Sunday lunch. This stems from the fact that my grandmother was a prolific wine maker - we were as children (over 11 years of age) allowed a glass of Nan's home made wine with our Sunday lunch. We became accustomed to it and grew up to respect drink as a result.

My Mum also used to be a very good wine maker - so it is something I kind of grew up with and I used to help my Nan and my Mum in the processes involved. I personally cannot always afford to buy wine at the moment, so to me the next best thing was get the old bubbling gear out and get cracking.

One of the problems of not having many pennies is not being able to buy the ingredients for wine making i.e. the sugar or being able to make good use of seasonal ingredients like elderflowers, plums, peaches, nettles etc. So sometimes you have to be a little creative coupled with a litte plotting and planning and you too should be able to make your own wine. Wine can be made from very many things; a lot of those items may already be present in your larderand its true to say that some wines are better than others; my favourites are the traditional wines known as "country wines".

One of the simplest wines and a good one for a beginner is to make is orange carton/fruit juice wine, which uses a combination of pure fruit juice together in some instances with fresh fruit to enhance and add more body to the wine. I have also made this with PLJ lemon juice and fresh lemons and with grapefruit as well adjusting the recipe as to what is to hand.

I keep lots of sugar in - I buy sugar in large bags from Sainsburys and also when it is on offer I top up my store so ideally I should be able to make a couple of batches a wine a month i.e. two gallons, or if you are nervous why not start with a simple kit or kits this should get you used to the processes involved. I make things as simple as possible. As you grow accustomed to making wine you learn to recognise the symptoms or signs at each particular stage.

However you can at this time of year dry ingredients such as rosehips for use later on when there is not many items to hand; this also helps stagger the wine making calendar and also the pennies. I will post the recipes I try as a I go along; no doubt there will be some wines that don't behave or turn out quite as they should, be prepared for this, but each time you make a batch it will be a steep learning curve.

Want to make wine but don't know where to start. Check out the Charity shops and see what wine making recipe books you can obtain. Any books by C J Berry are brilliant, but there are lots of boooks available and all of them give the basics of how to go on. Don't be put off by reference to hydrometers and taking readings; I have one of these but have never used it yet.

I usually go into Wilkinsons as they sell the basics for winemaking, although if you want a specialised yeast, it would be best to deal mail order with a larger winemaking provider on the Internet.

Ingredients sourcing can be a little bit more hit and miss, however if you make lots of jams and not all of it gets used up you can also use this to make wine with rather than wasting it. In theory it sounds good, I have some jam to try this with and will let you know the results in due course.

I have ginger beer on the go as well; its been a while since I last made this, and I was actually banned by my father from making this at one stage. He got shot in the garage one summer day. Long story but I had a couple of batches of ginger beer in cider bottles, racked in crates on the inside of the garage wall. It was a hot day, the sun was shining down on the outer wall, and the ginger beer got a tad warm. Dad was in the garage minding his own business mending one of his motor bikes, the next he knew was that he was being shot by low flying corks at quite a high speed. The whole lot blew and father was not particularly happy by this point. Unfortunately it touched my sense of the ridiculous and I started laughing, and I got banned from making the ginger beer!

To prevent such messes from an over active wine I pop those wines which are more aggressive in a plastic bucket until the first stages of fermentation to help keep mess to a minimum.

Hic, winemakers perk; tasting the goods.

Catch you all later

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