My family home back in the 80’s had a Damson tree in the garden. The fruit were mildly sweet, but the astringency of the skins made them too much bother to scrump. One day I found a recipe for Damson wine in a cookbook of my mother’s and out of curiosity decided to give it a go.
The recipe involved letting the mixture develop a good covering of floating mould before being fermented and at this stage it looked disgusting. But after skimming the penicillin off the liquid and following the process through to it’s conclusion I was surprised by how good the wine tasted.
Fairly soon, after numerous trips to Boots the Chemist, back when they sold wine making equipment as well as toys, furniture and records, I build up the necessary equipment of demijohns, bottles, corking tools and syphons. It’s such a shame how Boots has been forced to focus on only it’s core pharmacy and chemist products now. I used to love even the smell of the place, but now, sadly, I can’t remember the last time I visited a shop.
My cellar grew to include Sloe Gin, Dandelion wine, Elderberry and others. The gentle blop, blop, of the airlocks ticked away the days of anticipation for the current brew.
I left this hobby behind for a while, due to life, work, lack of space but now I’ve decided to revisit the world of country wines, kicking off with a Rhubarb recipe, chosen due to my discovery of a last few undrunk bottles stashed away in a dark cupboard, together with inheriting a patch of Rhubarb that needs to make way for a garden shed.
Country wines are unsophisticated, often quite sweet and always a gamble on quality. Many people turn their noses up at them in the light of cheap real wine from supermarkets.
But to me, opening a bottle and enjoying the taste, brings back memories of summer and sunlight and nature and life. It brings me joy, warmth, and good cheer. I make no apologies.
3lb granulated sugar
6 pts boiling water
G.P. wine yeast
Wipe the sticks of rhubarb with a damp cloth and cut up into small pieces. Place these into your plastic brewing bucket and then add the sugar. Pour over 6 pints of boiling water. Stir it up until the sugar dissolves and leave to cool. When lukewarm add a crushed Campden tablet and then cover. Mrs Gennery-Taylor advises adding Pectic enzyme as well, but I’m trying without this time. After 24 hours stir in the yeast. Allow to ferment in the bucket in a warm place, for a week, stirring daily.
After a week, strain the mixture into a fermentation demi-john, fit the airlock and allow to ferment to dryness. Rack, allow to clear and bottle.
The wine should be fit to drink from 6 months.