The last few weeks sees me do what I do every Halloween, make some home-made wine. It isn’t fully fermented wine and is technically known as Must. However it is a fun thing to do and it produces gallons (or litres) of a very plesant sparkling drink.
It’s very easy to do. First of all you pick your grapes. I only have 2 grape vines but I can still pick a few buckets worth of grapes.
Once you have picked the grapes then you have to remove them from their stems and stalks. Once that is done then it is time to crunch the grapes. I know in traditional industries they used to use their feet but I think that’s a bit disgusting and besides, there are various bugs and sometimes semi-dead wasps that live amongst the grapes in November and I can do without standing on them.
So I usually used my knuckles and lean down onto them. It can take quite a lot of time and energy and the seeds in the grapes can hurt you a little if you have so many buckets that it takes several sessions to squash them all. Alternatively you could use something like the potato masher above but I find using my hands is best, that way I can put my not inconsiderable weight behind it!
Once you have squashed every grape then you are left with something like the above. At this stage because it is November and I don’t want my kitchen smelling like a winery for 6 months, I add about 500 grammes of sugar to help the fermentation process. You can also add a little water too if you like. Then cover the grapes for a number of days and give the occasional stir.
The longer you leave your graps and the more sugar you put in then the stronger and more wine-like the resulting drink will be. If you just want a slightly alcholic fizzy, fruit drink then 3 or 4 days is sufficient. Leave it for 2 or 3 weeks and you will havesome very strong stuff indeed.
Once you think it is ready, it is time to separate the crushed grapes from the liquid. I don’t know how they do it in France but I use a simple sieve and then pour the whole mixture through it as shown below.
You are left with the dregs in the bucket. My tip wuld be to half fill the bucket up again with water and add more sugar. You can get a second and third harvest of Must from these grapes by repeating this stage though the later rounds lose their potency. However the juice has lots of antioxidents and still tastes nice as a simple bubbly fruit juice.
What you’re left with is this stuff. And lots of it. In the photo it looks quite still but once it is bottled the fizz develops.
Here is the nearly finished drink. I can fill about 15 of these large bottles with it. My advice would be to unscrew the bottle lids every few days as the pressure inside can build so much the lids will explode off into the ceiling at the most inconvenient moment.
You can remove the scum at the top with a spoon or run it through the sieve again.
It lasts for several years and if you know how to make it then is the basis for a good serving of hot mulled wine at Christmas.