What's better than spending a weekend with some great friends, food & drinks? To those who politely decline 'hard' drinks, the Wine is the first thing that comes to mind of the host and is immediately offered. Who can refuse this mildly intoxicating & delightful drink?
In India the most popular alcoholic drink after Whiskey, Rum & Brandy has been the Wine. Cocktails and mocktails became popular only a couple of decades ago when the pub and party culture grew. At least in Mangalore, Wine was offered to ladies by default (even if they would have wanted to have a peg or two of some other kind of alcohol) :-) because it was the socially accepted and permissible drink where the alcohol content was almost negligible (or so it was assumed!). It was unladylike to ask for anything else and the only ladies who grabbed a 'hard' drink were grannies who needed a 'dose' to be in the best of spirits and probably get a good night's sleep too.
Wine has been very popular in the Mangalore Catholic culture as it has a Eucharistic significance (although it is never served to people in the church) and is also served (although a namesake - usually grape juice) along with a piece of cake (usually plum cake) to guests during weddings. As soon as the Toast Master (the person who wishes well to the newly weds) finishes his rather lengthy speech of introducing the bridal couple, their education, their families, the extended families, family background and how each of them is related to all & sundry and their domestic pets (phew!) he/she raises his/her wine glass in honour of the happy couple and wishes them a great beginning to a happy married life.
Wine has a longstanding history and is probably one of the first things that man ever created. Made of fermented fruit juice (usually grapes) to which yeast is added which helps the conversion of sugars present in the juice into alcohol. Wines can be made from different sources ranging from fruits (grapes, apples), berries, roots (ginger) and grains such as barley & rice. Wine has not only acquired a significant place in religion (Christianity/Judaism) it is also greatly valued in the art of cooking.
Viticulture in India is also traced back to the Indus Valley Civilization during which it was believed to have been introduced from Persia. So it's really not a valid argument when people say that it is not Indian culture to have a little wine (or any alcoholic drink)
Wines can also be of different types, the most popular being the Red & White wines.
My relationship with Wine has been minimal. It was never made in my home as my mom never ventured out to make any kind of preserved foods/beverages (which require a great deal of time & patience) as she had her hands full taking care of the young and old besides running a house & a plant nursery and a couple of pets thrown in for good measure. My maternal grandma has always dabbled with making pickles, jams, preserves, wines and what not beside making all kinds of seasonal eats such as Patholis (rice cakes sweetened with jaggery & coconut & steamed in Teak leaves of Turmeric leaves), Pathrades, Gariyos etc. This particular recipe belongs to her which she lovingly gave me last year, six months before she had a fall & an injury. Not sure if she can make it any time soon to taste some of my wine, but nevertheless this post is especially dedicated for my dearest Nana.
Recipe Source: My grandmother
- 1/2 kg sour black grapes (over ripe is better)
- 350gms sugar (increase it upto 500gms if you like sweet wine - I like my wine less sweet)
- 1 tbsp sugar (to make the caramel)
- 1 litre water (boiled & cooled)
- 1 tsp yeast dissolved in 2 tbsp warm water
- 2 tsp rum or brandy (as a preservative)
1. Wash the grapes well & allow to drain. In a large pan crush them along with the sugar (350gms) and make a paste out of them (messy? enjoy it :-)
2. Add the water and stir well with a wooden ladle. Pour this mixture into a sterile glass jar (see note below) and add the dissolved yeast. Stir and close the jar (place the lid over it loosely or just cover it - DO NOT fasten it or the jar will burst during the fermentation process). Keep it for 21 days stirring once a day.
3. After the time is up, open the jar and strain out the grapes using a muslin cloth (or bairas) into a steel vessel. Reuse the grapes to make more wine.
4. Leave the strained liquid for 2 days for the sediment to settle down. After two days slowly pour into a bottle and place the cork loosely over it. Leave it for a week
5. Repeat the process of straining the residue grapes again and pour it back into the bottle for another 8 days.
Making the Caramel
Place a heavy bottomed vessel over a slow flame and add 1 tbsp sugar. Do not add any water. It will slowly melt and turn brown. Do not allow it to burn, turn off the flame, remove.
6. Pour the wine into a steel vessel and mix the caramel into it. Stir well so that all the caramel is incorporated.
7. Add 2 tsp rum or brandy which acts as a preservative.
8. Pour the wine back into the bottle, fasten the cork & store.
9. Enjoy a glass of wine with some great food & great company!
Note: Make sure you use sterile jar (which is washed well & dried) and vessels. The last thing you want is Mr. Bacteria (Acetobacter) to infect your wine & turn it into vinegar.
What good is this post if I don't come to my favourite topic? Health benefits ofcourse! Despite many debates, recent evidence shows that moderate consumption of wine may actually benefit you. While Red wine contains much higher levels of antioxidants like reservatrol than White wine, drinking either type of wine will increase the HDL or good cholesterol.
However....here's a STATUTORY WARNING!!!
Too Much Wine........