If you’ve wandered around my bio page, you’ll know that before delving into a creative career I was a scientist. I have a degree in biology and worked for nearly ten years doing chemistry kinds of things in a couple neuroscience research labs as well as spending a little over a year as a chemist at a food analysis lab. But now I bide my time scribbling out plot lines rather than lab notes, and creating art rather than fiddling with touchy scientific machinery (which I do NOT miss).
But really, it seems you can take the scientist out of the lab, but not the lab out of the scientist (actually, that sounds rather painful as most labs have many dangerous chemicals and plenty of broken glassware). This is all a roundabout way of saying I’m putting my chemist boots back on.
No, I didn’t get a job.
I got a wine making kit.
And my inner mad scientist is now plotting ways to take over the world (or at least the basement) with it.
Mad science always has a beginning
I enjoy a challenge which is why in a shady garden I like to attempt to grow fruits and vegetables that require full sun. After spending a lot of time thinking (aka “staring out the window”), I realized that the strip along the driveway out front gets loads of sunshine. So, my husband got to devote a weekend or two putting in some raised beds in which.our tomatoes, peppers, and other goodies did well.
But it wasn’t enough. I wanted grapes.
I love grapes. Strawberries (which I’ve also managed to grow quite well in my garden) might be my favorite fruit, but grapes are a close second and not just because they remind of eating eyeballs. Unfortunately, commercial grapes are doused with chemicals that aren’t good for you and aren’t good for critters like birds and bees. Double unfortunately, organic grapes are hard to find and are stupid expensive when you do find them. So for a while, I’ve been pretty limited with my grape eating.
I was tired of my grape-lessness, so, yep, Mr. Husband was put back to work installing a trellis at the very edge of our driveway strip (a very precarious edge as we’re on a hill) and I planted a couple vines that I nimbly work around .This year (the vines’ second year in the ground) my little grapes went bonkers. And when vines start producing a pound of grapes a day, the inevitable question is: Are you going to make wine with them?
Mais bien sur!
My grapes are table grapes which technically means they’re meant for eating not for making wine, but a little time strolling through the Internet and lurking around some winemaking forums made me realize that it’s okay to make wine from table grapes. It’s not going to be a cabernet or pinot grigio, but it is going to be wine…and that’s all I need!
The mad scientist in me couldn’t resist. (Plus I have dreams of moving to France one day and figure being able to make wine might earn me some brownie points on my residence application.) I started pacing the shelves of winemaking supply websites muttering, “Must get glassware, must get yeast, must get test kits!”
I’ve also put an ad on craigslist for a hunchback named Igor who is good at locating brains, but that’s none of your concern for now.
In less time than you can dig up a dead body for spare parts, my equipment arrived. Of course, I promptly learned I needed more supplies (Where is that Igor, when I need him?), but I did have fun taking my goodies out of the box while pondering what in the world I was supposed to do with it all.
I can’t start my first batch yet since Mr. Husband is allowed a break from garden projects once in a while so we’re heading off to Maui for a bit and I don’t want to leave a fermenting bottle of goo that might turn into the Blob and eat the house sitter. But when I get back, oh let the science begin! I’m hoping to not only make use of my grapes to make wine, but also some of my bees’ honey to try my hand at mead. There are also plans for a pear wine in my lab notebook. And of course world domination lie, any proper mad scientist. But wine always comes first.
And, to make it a proper mad scientist experiment, I do hope there’s a good lightening storm going on when my creation starts bubbling to life.
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TAMMIE PAINTER IS THE AUTHOR OF THE TRIALS OF HERCULES: BOOK ONE OF THE OSTERIA CHRONICLES AND AN ARTIST WHO DEDICATES HERSELF TO THE TEDIUM OF CREATING IMAGES WITH COLORED PENCILS