Mike is an amateur writer working on building a hopefully compelling story. He lives in The Village of Lakemore, Summit Country, Ohio.
I sit in my living room, drinking my homemade wine, wondering if I made a mistake. It started about a month ago, but really it has been there all my life. My father had issues with alcohol. I would say he was an alcoholic, but somehow that seems to give him an excuse for being mean, and he was mean whether drunk or sober. His disease and disposition have been an anchor around my neck for most of my life. When most people did their first forays into adulthood with a liquid libation, I held back with the fear that a liquid could turn me into him. I didn’t have my first real drink until I was in my mid-twenties. At some point, I came to see the alcohol didn’t make him mean, he was just mean.
About a year ago, I started to watch a YouTube app on my Roku. I searched around looking for something, not really knowing I was looking for anything at all. While looking, I found this couple in Florida and their channel City Steading. It was interesting just how much a person can do in their own home to make their own alcohol. I don’t like beer. I don’t like the taste, the smell, or the memories it invokes. Way back in my twenties, I tried hard Cider, and it tasted like beer, so I just gave up on Cider. I kind of like certain whiskeys (Bourbon mostly) but I don’t like the cheap stuff, and I’m too cheap to buy the good stuff. There is also that fear of becoming my dad. I watched them make Cider, Mead, and other variations of the two as well as beer. I don’t think I’ll ever make Mead. Watching them use all that honey (it takes gallons to make Mead) and all I can think is how it’s a waste of good honey.
In watching their videos, I came to understand just how easy it would be to make something low in alcohol and doesn’t taste like beer. I would try and make a drink I love. Some time ago, I found Ginger Beer. The type I like is a brand called Jamaica’s Finest Hot, Hot, Hot. This has no alcohol in it, but the kind I would make would have a little. That was the plan. Yes, that was the plan. My first attempt was so bad it took nearly an entire bottle of mouth wash to take the taste away. I learned in that, and the next two efforts, I had no patience. I thought I did, but sitting around as time marches on, I learned just how little patience I have. The second batch was a triple mistake. I tried to add hot peppers only to realize they were mislabeled and were sweet. I wasted good cinnamon for no flavor, and I used what turned out to be champagne yeast making it dry and nasty (stole all the ginger flavor). After the failed second attempt, I would have stopped, but I already had way too much money involved. My next goal would be a wine and a cider.
The Cider was based on good apple juice, brown sugar, and they only yeast I have (yes, the champagne yeast). The wine was made from a white grape and peach juice with sugar and the yeast, as mentioned earlier. The Cider fermented dry in about six days. I failed when I back sweetened it with way too much-concentrated apple juice. It’s not bad, tasting like overly sweet apple juice with some sort of alcohol, but it’s a failure with too much sedimentation in the bottle. The bottles need to be kept in the fridge.
The wine was another story. The wine went to 1.010 ABV (Alcohol By Volume) from a starting point of 1.10 ABV. It was dry but not too dry. The flavor was harsh and would need aging, but I planned to back sweeten with the same juice I used to make the wine. I racked the wine (move it from one fermenter to another, leaving the yeast on the bottom behind). A few days later, I checked, and it had started fermentation again, taking it to 0.990 (very dry no sugar). I racked again, adding a chemical to stop the yeast from rebuilding the colony. Two days later, I racked again, adding enough juice to take it back to 1.025 (just a bit sweet and with just a hint of the juice).
There is more involved in the process, and I didn’t cover every aspect. It’s kind of funny, I don’t like white wine, but I like what I made. It doesn’t have that raisin taste, just a hint of white grape and a subtle hint of peach. It’s also powerful (around 9.15% ABV or 18.3 Proof). I didn’t add any kind of tannin and or any of the other usual additives that would make it complex. What I did make was a lightly sweet wine that is easy to drink. At first. It does leave that dry mouthfeel that most wines leave. Most people eat cheese with wine because it helps with that dry mouthfeel.
As I type this, I have three different concoctions fermenting in my room. I hope to keep this going trying new things, but in the back of my mind, I think about my father and wonder.
© 2019 Michael Collins aka Lakemoron