Right now is one of my favorite times of year. Even though it’s sad to see summer quickly fading away, the silver lining to those impending autumn storm clouds is the abundance of free food around the neighborhood. Plum trees in schoolyards are kindly giving up their fruit, neighbors are begging you to take away their giant zucchini, and my secret goldmine of blackberry shrubs are bursting with purply goodness.
But wait, there is a downside to all this bounty: We still have blackberries from last year’s gleaning in the freezer. Luckily, Finn McSpool whipped out the kitchen scale and discovered we had just enough to start a batch of blackberry wine.
Those of you who have been with me for a while will remember my surprisingly good results from my very first batch of pear wine not long ago. Since then, I’ve made a couple gallons of wine from my own grapes, tried a winemaking kit (never again), had to dump out a failed batch of mead (sorry, bees), and am currently drinking my way through a round of pear-apple wine. It’s been a whole lotta boozy fun, but this is the first time Finn McSpool (who has been quite the do-it-yourselfer lately) lent a paw…for better or for worse.
First off, it’s been a while since my last round winemaking, so Finn read over the directions and my notes from my previous wines that came out successfully to see what we had to do.
Knowledge attained, Finn let me do the hard work of sterilizing everything while he just stood around for photo shoots (so much for helping).
Finn, realizing he wasn’t quite doing all he could, decided he wasn’t being fair. After all, it was his idea to start this project, then all he does is—
-What? I watched an educational video last night on winemaking and this is what you’re supposed to do.
–I Love Lucy episodes are NOT educational videos. Get out of there and go take a bath!!
We won’t even talk about all the Beastie paw prints I’ve been cleaning up ever since.
Anyway, once the kitchen was moderately clean again, it was time to toss the berries into their straining bag, add some water, add a campden tablet, then wait 24 hours for the sulphur to do its sterilizing magic. The next day, we dumped in a bit of yeast and then waited. And waited. And waited.
-Finn, if you want to take a peek, we can remove the lid. Besides, do you really want people to know you’re looking through something called a bunghole?
Normally, I don’t start wine until the less-busy days of winter when the house is rather chilly and my yeast takes a lot of coaxing to get going. But with the warm summer weather, these yeast cells were super happy and were vigorously munching away at the sugars. When I pulled the lid off to give Finn a better view, it smelled delicious even if it did look a bit gory.
I’m not sure if I should be worried about that maniacal look on Finn’s face.
After just a few days, much of the yeast activity had quieted down and it was time to see if our wine was ready to be locked away in a jug.
-Time to put on your chemistry hat, Finn.
-I haven’t got a chemistry hat, only a kilt.
-It’s just an expression. Never mind, you can just watch.
I don’t know if Finn is near-sighted or what, but he wanted to watch as up close as possible as I took a hydrometer reading. Yep, the yeast had done most of their work and it was now time to pour the wine into an airtight jug to finish up.
-You mean there’s nothing left to do?
-There’s a few things we need to do in a couple month, but yes, Finn, that’s about it for now.
I thought Finn went off to read, or pout, or pose for another photo shoot, but it turns out he went to the store to get something.
-Peaches!? Thanks Finn, I love peaches.
-No, these aren’t for you. These are future peach wine.
-Hmmm…I think we have some strawberries from the garden in the freezer.
So, now we have two gallons of future wine bubbling away in the basement: one blackberry and one peach-strawberry (which smells soooooo good even if it looks a bit medicinal right now).
-Finn, the jugs aren’t workout equipment…sigh….
Hope you enjoyed this foray into fruity wine. See you Wednesday…unless I forget to put on my eclipse glasses, then I won’t be seeing anything.