April 22, 2012

red, red wine

There is this tree in my parents' front yard. Well, there are many trees in my parents' front yard, but let's focus on this one. It grows adjacent to the garage and has been there as long as I can remember. I don't know the specifics of the type of tree and while I could call my dad right now to find out I really don't think he would appreciate me calling him at close to midnight just to find out the type of tree I'm trying to write about in my blog. What I do know is that it grows some sort of cherry-like berries. These berries inspired one of my many childhood projects.

At some point, I remember asking my mother what made wine different from juice. They were both made from fruit, so why was one off-limits to wee ones like myself? She explained that wine is fermented, and that causes the sugar from the fruit to turn to alcohol. It all seemed pretty simple to me, so I decided I was going to try my hand at making wine.

Now, if I were a more normal child, I probably would have taken some grape juice out of the fridge for this experiment. That would have been too easy. Instead, I collected a bunch of cherry-berries off of the tree out front. I figured I should start small, so my goal was to make one glass of wine. I sat down at the picnic table in the back yard, a few paper cups decorated with orange and yellow mod-style flowers and a pile of cherry-berries in front of me, the sun reflecting on my paper-white skin. I carefully began extracting juice from the cherry-berries by squashing them between two paper cups, dispensing the juice into a third. This process took a little while, and I wasn't impressed with the amount of juice I was getting per berry, but I continued until I had a decent glass full. I discarded the cherry-berry chunks and the cups I used to smash them, and carefully brought my cup of juice inside where it would ferment.

Being a small upstart winery, I settled on my closet as the place where the juice would ferment into delicious wine. I tucked the paper cup into the back right corner of my closet. I figured it would be dark enough for proper fermentation, for even when I turned the closet light on that corner stayed shaded by my clothes and toys and such. Then, I waited.

It was a bit of a crapshoot. I didn't know exactly how long it would take for my juice to turn into wine. Hell, I didn't even know what those cherry-berries were that I was turning into wine. Still, I waited. I don't remember how much time elapsed. I peeked at the juice here and there as though I could see that it had turned from juice to wine. Eventually, I was sure enough time had passed that I must have wine. I sniffed it. Then, I sipped it. My experiences with wine at that point were limited to communion and maybe one or two sips of something my mother was drinking. This tasted like neither. To be fair, I didn't taste it before to see if I even liked the cherry-berries in juice form. I also neglected to find out if they were even edible. So, I suppose I should just be thankful that I didn't poison myself and my parents didn't have to find my in a puddle of rancid juice at the bottom of my closet.

These days, making your own wine is sort of a thing. I have friends who have done it. What I gather from it is that it is a lot of work. More work certainly than mashing some cherry-berries in some paper cups and putting it in your closet. More work than I am willing to do for some wine. So, I stick to picking up bottles of Three Buck Chuck or whatever has the prettiest bottle and label. I suppose in the spirit of my inner child, I could try making some prison wine.

Posted by raven at April 22, 2012 10:21 PM
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