The Muscadines are about ready to pick, but I thought I’d experiment first with grapes from the wild vine that grew over the fence along the south side of the property. The grapes are small — about the size of a pea — but they’re very juicy. I picked all there was — about a pint — and they’re fermenting in the kitchen. I won’t know if they’re worth the trouble for some months yet, but so far the primary looks and smells pretty good.
The process I use for making wine is simple. Pick the grapes, wash them in plain water, smash them (I use a potato masher), then add water, sugar, and yeast — my favorite recipe calls for regular bread yeast. Yeast has to be fed (it has to be alive or it won’t work). In this case the yeasts’ food is a sliced potato and a handful of oatmeal. I know, sounded weird to me too, but the results are worth it!
The muscadine wine I made last year was awesome! It was a full-bodied straw-colored wine with a higher than usual alcoholic content. But the flavor was what I liked. It was a bit heavy and fruity, not tart at all, but very smooth and pleasant. (If you would like the recipe, drop me an email. You make this wine with just what’s in your kitchen — no special equipment needed.)
I have three other kinds of wine fermenting and ageing in my wine cupboard, a Merlot, date wine, and orange wine, but so far the Muscadine wine is my favorite. Having said that, I have to admit that the others have to age at least a year before I can actually taste them. This is only my second year making wine, but so far, I like the results.
One of the problems with home-made wine is that you make small batches. This wild grape wine will yield about a bottle, but then it is an experiment. If it turns out to be good, I’ll have to wait another year before I can make some more, and then I’ll scour the neighborhood for more vines. There’s been a lot of rain this year, and that will affect the grapes, so I’ll never know what’s in store for next year.
And now I’m off to pick the muscadines …