Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Great Fake Wine Experiment

The Great Fake Wine Experiment has begun. Stay tuned for future updates on the results.

Lemme 'splain here. I call it "Fake" for a few reasons. Foremost is that it uses not real grapes but frozen grape juice concentrate. Almost foremost is that it's incredibly simple and doesn't putz about with things like actually knowing what you're doing and having a goal of a particular type of wine. Another is that it doesn't use wine specific equipment like, say, a glass container and a real airlock.

For some reason, about 30 years ago, my normally teetotaler dad decided he wanted to make wine. The basement is still full of wine he bottled no telling how long ago. Some of his wine actually didn't have a bad taste, and some of it was only good for pouring down the drain. Through the years, he got concerned about his body's sugar levels and started making drier wines. Those are the ones that make me shudder. Then, again, I'm not a big wine aficionado.

Anyway, cleaning out the basement got me wondering about the wine he made, the taste it had and just what kind of wine could be made simply but that also I might like to drink or cook with. So I did a little recipe and video internet cruising and decided to try the "Great Fake Wine Experiment."

Here's the basic easy, peasy recipe:
4 cans frozen grape juice concentrate
4 lbs of sugar
1 package of yeast
4 gallons of water

Basically you combine all these things in a container, top with a balloon or vinyl glove, and let it simmer.

Dad left 4-5 carboys (what a stoopid name for a water container) in the basement, which are so grimy and discolored I can't decide whether or not to try to clean them up or just toss them. For my experiment, Max and I visited the gourmet store, Wal-Mart, and bought a 5-gallon jug of water. I poured the water into various containers (an old milk carton, a few half-gallon mason jars, and finally a crock pot,) and began assembling this great recipe.

First, I put the sugar in a big pan, added a half gallon of water and put that on the stove to warm up enough to dissolve the sugar. Second I poured the defrosted grape juice concentrate into the water jug. What with joking around with Max, the sugar had dissolved and was ready to add by the time I got the grape juice poured in.

Third, I added the sugar syrup made from dissolving the sugar in the water. I should have added the yeast after that but forgot and had to untape the glove and add the yeast after I thought I was finished. I sloshed the grape juice and sugar syrup around to mix well. Then I added the remaining 3.5 gallons of water. By this time it was heavy enough I begged Max to do this next round of slosh mixing.

Then I taped a vinyl glove to the top, and Max sat it in a closet to bubble and ferment however long it takes. I didn't want to but ended up using duct tape to tape the glove on. Electrical tape would have been preferable because it doesn't leave glue goo on the container. I'll see if I can get some electrical tape before the glue goo becomes permanent.

By this afternoon, the glove was beginning to fill with air, and you can see little bubbles popping to the top of the mixture.

We'll see how long it takes.

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