A friend and coworker (he was just a coworker until he sent me free stuff!) recently sent me a book in the mail. Having read my Redneck Wine Makin’ Guide he thought that I might appreciate a copy of The Alaskan Bootleggers Bible and was, in fact, very much correct. If you’ve read my post and liked it then you’ll love this book. The author, Leon W Kania, claims to feel the same way that I do about high end vintners but has a lot more experience on which to base his claims. The book covers a very basic recipe for making wine and then goes on to provide a stack of additions to that for every kind of wine that you can imagine. It’s nice because this approach let’s you start to understand what’s really required in your winemaking efforts and then shows you how to modify that base with your own creations. The recipes themselves and the dialog discussing the making of wine are full of witty (and often very funny) stories. The book goes on to discuss both distillation and beer making. The former is something that I’m very much looking forward to and the latter I’ll probably read just for the anecdotes although I have no intention of making beer. Mr. Kania writes in a style similar to the one I used in my post but does a MUCH better job of it. He does offer the use of a hydrometer in a few places in the book but notes that this is not required. The book sells for $21.95 USD (plus $5 for shipping) direct from the publisher and is absolutely worth the money. The only downside is that I’m now very much indebted to a coworker. If you’re going to make wine whether using my way or the “scientific” way I recommend reading this book. Even if you opt for the more detailed approach you’ll appreciate the recipes and humor that he provides.
Having nothing to handy to ferment and looking for something cheap and easy I’ve been reading his book in the hopes that it would provide inspiration. I wasn’t disappointed. The book provides a recipe for Mead or Honey Wine that’s very simple. The recipe is looked great but due to issues with resource acquisition I modified it a bit. Here’s the recipe for the batch that I made:
6lbs honey (discount, cheapo walmart brand)
15 oz Chopped raisins ( Sunmaid… is there any other kind?)
1 Gallon of water
1/2 Gallon of fruit Juice (V8 Splash, Tropical Blend)
Mr Kania’s recipe called for 1lb of raisins but for some insane reason you can only get them in boxes of 15 oz… I don’t know why… I’m sure there’s some silly reason for it but rather than by a 15 oz box and a 1.5oz (yeah… not 1 oz.) and count raisins to get a pound I just used 15 oz. The same thing happened with the Honey. He called for 4.5 lbs but the largest I could find were 3 lb bottles. The 1 lb bottles were nearly twice as much (per oz) as the 3 lb bottles so I just bought two and added extra honey. To offset that I increased the recommended 1/2 gallon of water to 1 gallon. (note that there wasn’t a great deal of math involved here. It was much more, “hmm more honey, more water..”. It’ll work out… I hope. If you want the original recipe, buy his book.
Mrs. Jinksto and I went off to Walmart this morning and were back shortly with raisins and honey. I set the gallon of water to boiling and set the jars of honey up to their necks in hot water in the sink to thin them a bit and make for easier pouring. While the water was getting hot I dumped the raisins in the food processor and started chopping them. Now, I don’t know how the hell you’re supposed to make chopped raisins but I can confirm for you that putting nearly a pound of them in the food processor and setting it to “chop” on “high” will create a very thick raisin paste. um… yum… The paste was too thick to get into the top of my 3 gallon carboy (that’s a fancy name for a water bottle remember?) easily and I was at a loss for how to do it without making a HUGE mess. I thought about just dumping them into the gallon of boiling water and letting everything sort of dissolve but there were whole raisins still in that thick gooey mass which would have stopped up my funnel and the last thing you need when pouring boiling water with 5lbs of honey dissolved in it is a stopped up funnel. So while the water boiled, the honey melted and the yeast was starting in a nearby jar of warm water I worked on getting raisin goo into the carboy.
The raisin goo was thick (very) and sticky (extremely). As I’ve noted, I didn’t want to get the top of the jug all messy because there’s no way to easily clean it up when you’ve got a batch of must cooking in it. I finally hit on the idea of rolling the raisin goo into a series of thin logs and then carefully feeding them through the top of the bottle trying to avoid touching the top. This actually worked WAY better than I thought it would. After 10 minutes of rolling and then carefully dropping the raisin goo logs into my carboy I was impressed. I was excited that I had figured this out and avoided a bad mess. I stood back, looked upon my work with a huge amount of pride and was immediately (and completely) horrified. Laying in there in the bottom of my carboy was a large pile of sticky, gooey raisin logs that looked for all the world like… well… if you haven’t figured it out by now let’s just go with the fact that I was horrified by my creation. So horrified in fact that I went and woke Mrs Jinksto up form her nap just so that I could show her what I had wrought. She too was horrified which justified my position but, apparently, not my disturbing her nap. I think her exact words were something like, “Oh God! You woke me up to show me THAT!”
I really don’t want to go on about this but, wow… if you’re in theater or the movie business and need a pile of fake fecal matter made up, give ole Jinksto a call… I can help you out.
After the lady had stormed out of the room I quickly poured the half gallon of V8 fruit juice over things to cover what I”d done. I added the melted honey to my now boiling pot of water and used the boiling water to rinse out the rasinated food processor. I let all of this cool for a bit and then poured the still very hot water into my carboy. I was worried that the water would break the glass of the jug so went very slow. Either I went slowly enough or the honey-water had cooled enough that it was an issue. I survived, the jug survived, we’re in business!
I let things cool just a bit more and then shook the three gallon carboy enough to generally break things up inside, get the raisins mixed with the rest of the concoction and generally cover up my foray into theater…
In a second, I’ll go back in there and pour the started yeast into the carboy and we’ll be well on our way to making a batch of Mead!
I think I’ll call it turd wine for a few more days just to annoy Mrs. Jinksto but will then try very hard to forget what I did. I’m serious about that movie gig though… if you need help, let me know.