image Grapes on the vine

I originally wrote this piece under the main title of ‘The Concrete Gardener’ but as I’m going to go for a tasting of the wine I’ve produced tomorrow, then I thought I would make the title a little more accessible.

So far there are three parts to this. The one you are reading, and steps #2 and #3. There’s a fourth step which I will write about before the week-end, in which I will reveal if my wine is palatable or if I’ve made wine-vinegar. In the meantime, here’s the piece that started it all.

The very last grapes on the vines were starting to look a little past their sell by date. It was either let them rot & make a mess on the path, or cut them down and throw them away, eat them or maybe there’s another option. I decided to test my theory for next year… I would make wine out of these grapes and if I get a bottle out of what’s left I should get a dozen or more bottles next year.

image of grapes

So here’s the remaining grapes in a large stainless steel pan. If you look closely at the darker grape to the bottom-left of the image you will see it has a covering of what looks like dust. This is natural yeast, called flor. Once you press or in my case mash the grapes, the natural sugars will react with the natural yeast and eventually you will have alcohol.

image of grape must

Mashing up the grapes and you will end up with something called must, which you can see in the picture above. This is the grape skins, the parts of the vine the grapes were attached to, the grape juice and that all important flor. The must needs to be covered and kept in a warm environment and a lid needs to be placed on top. The lid is to keep bugs out, but it must also allow air to escape. The must will start to bubble and that’s the yeast working on the sugar. Putting a lid on that doesn’t allow the air to escape can lead to an explosion. I have a lid that allows air to escape, so hopefully I won’t wake up to a newly decorated wall over the next week or so.

Of course, you can go to the expense of buying all the jars, airlocks and other paraphernalia, but I prefer the au natural approach.

One other thing you need to consider is how long you leave the grape skins and parts of the vine in your must. These have a compound called tannin in them and the more tannin the longer the wine will be preserved. Red grape skins will also colour the wine, that’s why red wine is made with red grapes and white with green grapes. However, you can make Rosé wine by leaving the red grapes in the must for a shorter period of time.

I’ll post more on this as and when anything happens… including total disaster. It is after all an experiment.

Copyright Tom Kane © 2018

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