May 19, 2013

Today was great day. We started the day celebrating the ministry of a good friend. I am especially touched by her ministry as it set the precedent for my own primary ministry focus, along lines of work with internationals, especially conversation English ministry (ESL). Service was followed by a community lunch (methinks it not a bad way to honor Pentecost Sunday, either).

Coming home, Kim and I set to work putting muscadine vine in the ground, as suggested in my post yesterday. We have two dark-skinned muscadines (a Cowart and a Southland), and one light skinned (a Dixie). Since we planned to have one 40 foot row and one 20 foot row, for the time being (that’s 10 feet either side of each muscadine), we decided it would be best to separate the darks so that it would be clear where the vines differ in the future. So along the 40 foot row, we placed the Cowart and the Dixie (at 10 and 30 feet), and on the other row we placed the Southland. We didn’t add the trellis wires/poles today, so that will be a job for another day, soon preferably. Mostly, we wanted to make sure to get the vines in the ground, before they over-extended their stay in the pots.

We had scheduled plans for a dinner-and-a-movie date, but those plans fell through. We spent the evening watching episodes from the third season of White Collar. Quite enjoyable.

Bing Cherry Wine, Not Quite Mature

Bing Cherry Wine, Not Quite Mature

Adding to the enjoyment was a lovely Bing Cherry wine. It has not quite reached “maturity” on my schedule, but I thought it would be nice to benchmark taste before it actually got there (October?!). And no reason to wait forever before seeing if it is at all pleasant, right?

This particular wine started as an experiment. After a number of quite failed attempts at “natural” fermentation with honey, i.e. without adding yeast, I was desperate to see something, anything, work. I had a whole bunch of Bing cherries purchased for eating. I had sugar. And I picked up a bunch of cheap bread yeast. I hadn’t quite figured out where the local wine supply shops were. I knew bread yeast wouldn’t yield the best product. But I wasn’t so interested in something drinkable. I just wanted to see fermentation happen in a semi-controlled environment. And that is exactly what I got.

I marked out a spreadsheet with varying levels of sugar water, cherry weight and yeast ratios. I then proceeded to watch cherry do a vigorous ferment under bread yeast. The smells were lovely, and as could be expected, bready – but in a very good way. In the end, I aborted the experiment. The excessive amounts of bread yeast had probably made useless the results. I picked the best of the jars (based on watching them ferment, and overall color), and combined to make 1G. I then let this run its course through secondary fermentation. I can’t recall if I did, but I seem to have in the back of my mind that I added a wine-yeast. But I may simply be remembering a thought I had at the time. My notes seem lost on the subject. I’m leaning towards it being a false-memory.

I know that the secondary fermentation took forever, it seemed, before the little bubbles ceased. Well, that is my memory of the situation, anyway. Looking at the notes I do have still, it looks like primary fermentation only lasted 2 days before I gave up on the experiment and removed the cherries, which had lost most of their color to the boiled distilled water and sugar concoction). The secondary fermentation lasted just 9 weeks, actually much quicker than most of the batches I have attempted. But memory is one of those weird things, altered by surrounding circumstances, among other things. Which is why I at least try to be regular in keeping notes now as I test, taste, watch and build my ferments.

In any case, the end result of all that madness is a crystal clear, sediment-less (surprised me!), semi-sweet cherry wine. It is a stunning dark red. It has a bite, and is quite “hot” in my opinion. It has not even a remnant of the bready-ness so noticeable when it was an experiment. I didn’t think it was strongly “cherry” flavored, though there was some hint in the aftertaste. It certainly had nothing resembling the sickeningly-sweet cherry-like flavor in a cherry Jolly Rancher or similar candy. But combined with a nice dark chocolate, my wife and I both noted how similar the taste was to a really good chocolate-covered cherry. Overall, it’s something I would be interested in making again (maybe without going through all the same process). And I’m definitely looking forward to the results when it has completed its aging in the bottle!

And it was quite good on a Netflix date with my wife.

Kim Makes The Glass Sing

Kim Makes The Glass Sing

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