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Experimental Wine Making

Aug 17, 2007
Vegetable wine, fruit wine, flower wine - there are hundreds of recipes, all different yet all basically the same; and if you like to experiment there is a vast field in which to do so. If you consider the sherry recipes as examples of fruit and vegetable mixtures for the purpose of making delicious wines, you will see at once that experiment is worth while.

During the last war, when sugar for wine-making was unobtainable, tinned syrup and 'sugar' obtained by boiling packet dates with the little real sugar I did happen to acquire, helped to keep my little brewery working, if only to the extent of half a dozen gallons a year. The wine was not nearly as good as that turned out today, but cheer was hard to come by and anything reasonably good was better than nothing at all.

Since the war, and especially since the de-rationing of sugar, experimenting with various recipes has been my hobby. The result of one such experiment, with a strongly-flavored orange wine and mildly-flavored potato wine, I at once called orange brandy. However, I thought that to make two varieties of wine in order to produce one really good one seemed an odd way of doing the job, so I studied both recipes and then set to work. The result, which really was wonderful, I called Bravery's Extra-Special Fine Old jungle-juice. Thus experimenting with two recipes and two varieties of wine proved not only the worth of experiment, but also the value of blending.

Readers following any recipes, bear in mind all I have said about the best ingredients, sterilization of utensils, fermentation, the removal of scum during simmering, and the clearing process, will turn out really magnificent wines. Nevertheless there are many recipes waiting to be discovered.

Therefore I say, experiment. For who knows what might turn up quite accidentally?

I have proved that what appears to be a good idea is usually worth following up. So when you have had a little experience, and are turning out rich, crystal-clear wines with professional regularity, and when you have mastered the technique of blending - if you try this -many ideas for recipes will occur to you. Try them out in half-gallon lots and when you have turned out something really good of your own, test it on your friends. Then work the recipe once more, taking careful note of all you do. When you have perfected a recipe - but not before - pass it on.

Many people jealously guard secrets, which should be handed on. Typical is the case of a late friend of mine who, with the aid of his three sons, brewed stout each year from elderberries.

Many of times I have tried to winkle the recipe out of him, but a sly wink and the up-ending of his glass was his only response. Since I enjoyed his stout so much I thought it wise not to be too inquisitive. Imagine my surprise when, after his death, the lads explained that all they had been allowed to do was collect the elderberries and help to crush them. After which the cunning old devil - as they affectionately called him -brewed his stout behind locked doors. Search as we might, neither recipe nor notes did we find.

Knowledge gained from years of experiment both with recipe and method was all kept in his head, and he took it with him. The moral of the story is, if your experiment's successful, write it down so others can enjoy it too!
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