Sunday, July 6, 2008

Wine 13

I've made a couple of stabs at bottling. Stabs, we all know, produce blood and sadness.
This is one of my first, and wasn't a terrible attempt. The grapes grew at my house. I would take the credit for them, but the previous tenants seem to have planted them. I participated in the watering of them. My then-girlfriend and I fought off rats and sparrows, overcame drought and apathy, and more allowed than caused the grapes to grow. The vine grew up over the gate in our fence, a six-foot affair built in two levels as are so many around the neighborhood. This design, while being difficult to maintain, is the perfect place for local fauna to take up residence. For us, this included a large nest of rats and a couple of possums. I'll spare you the unfriendly details, except to say that we allowed the grapes to reach maturity in spite of their probable tastiness and Nature's love of tasty things.
Mustang grapes are a local varietal that grows more or less wild around here, but that is well-suited to the dry heat we get, as well as resistant to the mold which reproduces rampantly and grotesquely, performing unspeakable acts in full view of women and children. This makes the real trick to winemaking in this area killing the native growth.
We squeezed the grapes not 100 yards from the vine where they grew. I wish I could tell you that we stomped them while wearing festive and amusing costume in the style of the Italian peasantry, but we squeezed them cruelly by hand, holding them over a sieve and trying to keep out the stems and seeds.
As soon as the vines bore tiny, green pips, we began drinking apple juice. We picked a brand which came in thick glass jars with a gallon capacity, and drank the juice mechanically. From the very juicy grapes, we produced just over three half gallons of raw liquid, and began to ferment them with Champagne yeast. Over the course of weeks, the wine burbled and grew, and slowly became other than its initial stuff.
It became several bottles of wine. I made labels declaring the wine "Not Genuine With This Signature!" and we made up labels.
This bottle was the last one, pulled from the end of the tanks and having either loads of character or none at all.
And it has corked badly. Something truly unpleasant has happened to this poor grape juice, and I can't even bring myself to drink it. I have a second bottle which I will attempt at a later date.
While cleaning out some boxes in the garage, we found some bottles of "Flying Lemonade," a soft beverage bottled by my wife and me. Although I am a brave man, this is a raw beverage, bottled with the intent that it be consumed quickly. It was made with local lemons (which we cannot claim to have produced) and pure sugar. We brewed it with water from a spring from which flows the purest, tastiest water in North America.
I didn't even pull the cork on that one.
What does all this mean? I hope you will take from it that I really do appreciate the work which vintners put into winemaking. We labored for scant weeks. I've stabbed a couple of times at producing bottled beverages, and although not unsuccessful, the output has been paltry and the product amateurish. To make a uniform product over such a huge run must be difficult indeed.
I hope I'm not writing this to poke fun at any sort of wine maker. My goal, I really hope, is penance. I have done wrong to so many of these wines, and I hope to excise the skeletons by savoring the results.

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