Thoughts . . . by Mark Rich

. . . scribbled . . . scrawled . . . trimmed . . . typewritten . . . grubbed up . . . squeezed from circumstance . . .

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Martha took off Tuesday from her job, which has to do with organic maple syrup. Monday had been a rough day, for her: so to make Tuesday as sunny inside as it was outside I pulled from the basement, to go with lunch, a bottle of Wine 25. Since we had bottled this batch on the third of this month, it has had little time to mature and go about its final clarification.

While it was not ready, we were -- a situation that allowed for compromise, in our favor.

Last year's winemaking was all a specific kind of experiment; and of its results the wines that gave us greatest hope for future efforts were the rhubarb ones. I was using ample sliced-up lemons in those wines -- organic, whenever possible -- and so those wines had a strong edge given them by the peel. This rhubarb was our first of the sort we would call raw wines. Since the quite-simple recipe I had found in an old cookbook made no mention of cooking the rhubarb, I instead heated the water, to sterilize it, and let it cool before pouring it over the wine's ingredients.

That rhubarb wine was, as I recall, also the first I started in a stoneware crock, a Red Wing three-gallon. Our experience would be that crock-started wines succeeded to a greater degree than did glass-container ones, although glass in general seemed fine; and it was tremendously better than steel-container wines, which were the most apt to go astray into vinegary territory.

I remember us sitting in the backyard on a summery day and trying some of that first rhubarb. We marveled at its beautiful, lightly tinted clarity, and at the wonderful sense of freshness, a quite dry freshness, about it. It went well with being drenched by sunlight. I believe I made the batch too dry -- which in this instance means its alcohol was not high. Yet we were pleased. Such promise! A wine of encouragement.

Cheers ...

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