Sunday, June 16, 2019

From Garden to Cask to Bottle - General Rules for making & storing Old-Time Home-Made Wines

John Greenwood (American artist, 1727-1792) Sea Captains Carousing in Surinam, 1758. Detail

Old-Time Recipes for Home Made Wines Cordials and Liqueurs (1922) by Helen S. Wright

...The best method of making these wines is to boil the ingredients, and ferment with yeast. Boiling makes the wine more soft and mellow. Some, however, mix the juice, or juice and fruit, with sugar and water unboiled, and leave the ingredients to ferment spontaneously. Your fruit should always be prime, and gathered dry, and picked clean from stalks, etc. The lees of wine are valuable for distillation, or making vinegar. When wine is put in the cask the fermentation will be renewed. Clear away the yeast as it rises, and fill up with wine, for which purpose a small quantity should be reserved. If brandy is to be added, it must be when the fermentation has nearly subsided, that is, when no more yeast is thrown up at the bung-hole, and when the hissing noise is not very perceptible; then mix a quart of brandy with a pound of honey, pour into the cask, and paste stiff brown paper over the bung-hole. Allow no hole for a vent peg, lest it should once be forgotten, and the whole cask of wine be spoiled. If the wine wants vent it will be sure to burst the paper; if not the paper will sufficiently exclude the air. Once a week or so it may be looked to; if the paper is burst, renew it, and continue to do so until it remains clear and dry.

A great difference of opinion prevails as to racking the wine, or suffering it to remain on the lees. Those who adopt the former plan do it at the end of six months; draw off the wine perfectly clear, and put it into a fresh cask, in which it is to remain six months, and then be bottled. If this plan is adopted, it may be better, instead of putting the brandy and honey in the first cask, to put it in that in which the wine is to be racked; but on the whole, it is, perhaps, preferable to leave the wine a year in the first cask, and then bottle it at once.

All British wines improve in the cask more than in the bottle. Have very nice clear and dry bottles; do not fill them too high. Good soft corks, made supple by soaking in a little of the wine; press them in, but do not knock. Keep the bottles lying in sawdust. This plan will apply equally well to raspberries, cherries, mulberries, and all kinds of ripe summer fruits.

COLORING FOR WINES
One pound of white sugar. Put into an iron kettle, let boil, and burn to a red black, and thick; remove from the fire, and add a little hot water, to keep it from hardening as it cools; then bottle for use.

FINING OR CLEARING
For fining or clearing the wine use one quarter pound of isinglass, dissolved in a portion of the wine, to a barrel. This must be put in after the fermentation is over, and should be added gently at the bung-hole, and managed so as to spread as much as possible over the upper surface of the liquid; the intention being that the isinglass should unite with impurities and carry them with it to the bottom.

TO FLAVOR WINE
When the vinous fermentation is about half-over, the flavoring ingredients are to be put into the vat and well stirred into the contents. If almonds form a component part, they are first to be beaten to a paste and mixed with a pint or two of the must. Nutmegs, cinnamon, ginger, seeds, etc., should, before they are put into the vat, be reduced to powder, and mixed with some of the must.

TO MELLOW WINE
Wine, either in bottle or wood, will mellow much quicker when only covered with pieces of bladder well secured, than with corks or bungs. The bladder allows the watery particles to escape, but is impervious to alcohol.

TO REMOVE THE TASTE OF THE CASK FROM WINE
Finest oil of olives, one pound. Put it into the hogshead, bung close, and roll it about, or otherwise well agitate it, for three or four hours, then gib, and allow it to settle. The olive oil will gradually rise to the top and carry the ill flavor with it.

TO REMOVE ROPINESS FROM WINE
Add a little catechu or a small quantity of the bruised berries of the mountain ash.

TO RESTORE WINE WHEN SOUR OR SHARP
1. Fill a bag with leek-seed, or of leaves or twisters of vine, and put either of them to infuse in the cask.
2. Put a small quantity of powdered charcoal in the wine, shake it, and after it has remained still for forty-eight hours, decant steadily.