" . . . to set on your table that bright sparkling wine . . . "

-- Woody Guthrie

It all starts with the grape. And this year we've got grapes galore, grapes up the gumpstump, grapes overflowing the arbor, so many grapes the birds can't keep up with them which is good for the wine makers. Of which I have never been one but this year I decided to call Dave Roof my wine making friend and see if he'd like to break out the old crock full of bull and fill it with juice and sugar and yeast and the good stuff that go into making wine.

Dave was up for it but had to do a bit of brushing up on the technique, had to check his old recipe, had to see if he still had the equipment. Had the nerve. Had the time. Had his daughter's kitchen, his daughter's steamer. Yes to all. So I brought over the grapes and we had at it. He likes the grapes to be big, about so, each one. This is a mammoth grape, makes a whole bottle all its own.

We dump the grapes in the top of the steamer. The water at the bottom of the steamer boils like a son of a bitch and the grapes lose their juice into the middle section of the steamer and then we draw off the juice into bottles and give the old wornout grapes devoid of their juices to the chickens who don't care, anything to break the monotony.

The process known as invert the sugar which is simply adding 18 cups of sugar to five quarts of water, boil the shit out of it and once the sugar is absorbed into the water it is inverted, so they say, and then we pour the invert into the six gallon plastic bucket cleaned and sterilized for it is most important in these pristine kitchen experiments to have no germs, no mold, no bacteria and most important, no cat hairs.

Add the juice to the bucket and then check the specific gravity with the old hydrometer or whatever it is called. We are using concord grapes which you wine aficienados know are used for making mogen david and manishevitz wine, a very sweet thick syrup, a ceremonial drink, but don't cringe because we are going for a 1.1 specific gravity which will result in a dry wine.


Sure you do. It was all over the web pages there for a while. The picking the steaming the stomping the racking. Payday has finally arrived. Yesterday, after a suitable wait for the fermenting to cease, we bottled. One five gallon jug reduced to 24 bottles, filled and corked and covered with lables.

Now we'll let the wine age in the bottles. Have to confess, we did tipple a taste or two just to be sure everything was copasetic, and yes, it was, and is and will be, for there is another five gallons working. Wine for the ages. Not for sale.

- - PLATO (429-347 B.C.)