I have a treasured little crackpot theory. It's that many foodways started off with a conversation something like this:
"Oh, no, what's happened to our [food item]?"
"Well, I don't care--I'm desperate!"
Surely it must have been that way with wine: Someone leaves fruit or honey-water alone for a while, maybe in a cave, and instead of just going sour, it turns into something delicious and celebratory. "Hmm! Let's try that again as soon as this headache goes away," our experimenter says.
But in the days before refrigeration, wine was not just a delicacy; it was an important food preservation method. Even today, it's a great way to put up a bumper crop.
Until last year I had a local friend who made truly excellent blueberry wine. In our household, a case of the stuff was an absolute necessity for the holiday season. Our friend retired and sold his farm, though, so my significant other and I are gathering information in hopes of trying to make our own country wine. One of our key sources is our dear friend and fellow blogger Kitchen Witch, who has been
making herself and her friends drunk practicing this art for several years and approaches it with creativity and flair.
Here's an introductory, and possibly somewhat tipsily rambling, post about making plum wine. Shortly after she posted it, she added one about apple wine, in which she continues her joyous and somewhat unscientific approach. And most recently--not for the faint of heart--she posted about mead. We all have local honey, right? Well! Let's get to it.
As for us, I'm not sure what we're going to put up this year. Muscadine grape season is almost over, and we've been too busy clearing out our house for the floor refinishers (don't ask) to do anything about it. Apples will be a non-starter, since a late frost killed more than 90 percent of this year's crop in Georgia. (I personally have *one* Arkansas Black apple, the only fruit in my entire orchard. It's a beaut, though.)
I suspect that whenever homemade wines don't turn out sour or rocket-fuel-like, they make excellent holiday gifts. And surely you can take the indifferent ones and turn them into local homemade vinegar...