Small Batch Wine Experiments

Over the last couple of weeks, we have been experimenting with some non-grape based wines.  We have always made wines from fruits other than grapes – actually that is how we got started.  Our first wines were blackberry, strawberry, cherry and peach.  But then we concentrated on learning to grow grapes and making grape wine.  We do blend our grape wines with fruit wines for certain blends, for example, our Bow and Arrow is a blend of Chambourcin and Blackberry wine, and our Summer Blend is a blend of Vidal Blanc and Apple wine.  But these current experimental batches are new to us.

Dandelion Wine:
During the first weeks of April, we picked the yellow petals off dandelions.  The recipes we found varied from 2 cups per gallon of water to 1 gallon of petals per gallon of water, and every ratio in between.  We opted for a 1:2 ration, so 8 cups of dandelion petals per gallon of water.  After about three weeks, we had picked  56 cups of petals – enough for a seven gallon trial batch!  We froze the petals right after picking, in small freezer bags marked with the number of cups.

As with any of the blossom wines, you basically make a strong “tea”, to extract the flavors and aromas of the flowers. So we used our large pressure canners to bring about 8 gallons of water to a full boil.  We did not have a large enough container to make this”tea” in, so we used two fermentation buckets from our home-winemaking days.  We did this initial step in our kitchen, not the winery, since we needed a stove.   Each bucket had a finely woven fermentation bag with the 28 cups of pedals, which we covered with 3.5 gallons of boiling water.  We then added the required amount of sugar – which brought the total volume up another half gallon –  and let the mixture steep.  We did measure  Brix, pH and TA and made some slight adjustments.

It smelled very pleasant, a bit like honey – but unlike anything we had ever smelled before.  Once the temperature cooled down to lukewarm, we added chopped yellow raisins, tartaric acid, some grape tannin, yeast nutrient etc. to the fermentation bag with the petals,  and left this sit for a day, before pitching yeast. We had a hard time getting the fermentation started, and it took three tries of different yeast strains, but it finally started a pretty rigorous fermentation.  We are waiting for it to complete, before straining the wine into carboys, and then start the racking regiment.  Seven gallons is not very much wine, considering that one gallon roughly fills 5 standard bottles – or ten 350 ml bottles.

 

Pumpkin Wine:
Last fall, we bought a lot of neck pumpkins, from which we removed the rind, seeds and all stringy matter.  We cut the pumpkin “meat” into cubes and froze them.  Earlier this month, we thawed them out and weighed them – we had 121 lbs.  We added the required amount of water, sugar, acid, tannin etc – as well as a small spice bag.  There were no precise recipes that we could find, so we made our own best guess.  We used two whole nutmegs and 14 allspice berries, which we put in a ziploc bag and smashed slightly with a hammer into course chunks.  We poured this into the spice bag and added 14 smallish cinnamon sticks, as well as chopped raisins.  Then we pitched the yeast, and the fermentation started on schedule.  This batch is fermenting in the winery, which is still rather cool,  so the fermentation is not too violent, but rather progressing at a nice pace.  We hope to rack this off on Memorial Day weekend – likely into 15 gallon demi-johns.  This should make about 35 gallons.

 

Elderberry Wine:
We just bottled 20 gallons of Elderberry wine in small, 350 ml bottles.  It took us two growing seasons to pick enough elderberries from our bushes, which we froze in gallon bags.  Last August, we thawed them out and mixed them with water, sugar and acid to get the correct balance for adding yeast and making wine.  As far as an experiment goes, this one has taken the longest so far!  The wine fermented without any issues, and we followed the same process as we do for all our wines, in regards to testing, racking and aging.  This prurplish red fruit wine has a very unique taste – and we look forward to sharing it.  The bottles still need to rest a bit and they need to be labeled.

We also have several bags of frozen elderberry blossoms that we picked last year, and we hope to get a lot more this year.  Elderberry blossoms make a beautiful white wine – we can’t wait to try it!

Mulled Wine for the Holidays

Mulled wine is one of our favorites during the winter holidays.  There are lots of different ways to make this hot winter drink.  All recipes start off with wine to which mulling spices  are added, and the mixture is slowly heated until the flavors blend.  Some recipes use a mixture of wine and cider (or other juice), while others “spike” their wine with brandy or rum.  Often fruits, such as orange slices or cranberries, are added and some people like to sweeten the mixture a bit.

One of our favorite recipes is the less alcoholic version of wine and juice:

  • 1 bottle of red wine (such as Sweet Mountain Mist)
  • 3 cups of apple cider or apple juice  (or 2 cups of apple juice and 1 cup of cranapple juice)
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick (about 3 inches)

Alternatively, you could substitute two bottles of our Winter Blend wine, which is a blend of Apple wine and Chambourcin wine, and omit the apple cider or juice.

Heat all ingredients in a crock pot – but never let it boil. Start off on the high heat setting until the liquid becomes hot, then turn it to the low or warm setting and let is simmer for about 2 hours.  The cinnamon stick should flatten out as the flavors blend together.  Serve hot and enjoy!

Posted by The Long Shot Farm

Vidal-Alfredo Food Pairing

It is the simple things in life that matter.

This is most certainly true when it comes to Alfredo.  I am not fooled by those jars in the grocery store that pretend to be Alfredo and are white and gooey and plop out of the jar with a sickening Gak sound.   I make my Alfredo as simply as possible with just a handful of ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/2 freshly grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper

Bring the first 3 ingredients to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and let thicken a few minutes.  Add salt and pepper.  Toss with pasta and parmesan.

I like to add in a few vegetables and chicken sometimes.  To pair with the Vidal wine I added asparagus and toasted pine nuts.  A satisfying Friday night meal after a full week.

Posted by Anja Weyant

Strawberry Wine

 

We are excited to start a batch of strawberry wine! Fruit wines typically take less than a year to complete. We purchased locally enough strawberries to make a small batch of wine.  The wine will have a pleasant perfumey bouquet and the taste of strawberries will come out cleanly. Dry or sweet this wine will be something to look forward to.

Posted by Anja Weyant

Wine and Chocolate Pairing: First Attempt

Let me start by saying that you should drink the wine you like with what you like to eat and therefore, should probably take someone’s wine pairing suggestion with a grain of salt[y chocolate].  I actually think that plain chocolate goes with most wine.  And by plain I just mean milk chocolate and the various degrees of dark chocolate.  I just really like chocolate and wine.

I recently visited the Lindt outlet in Carlisle and thought it would be fun to pair the Long Shot wines with the myriad of flavored truffles. Our naive expectations were that all the truffles would go more or less with every wine, and this would be a silly game, were we just make up what is “best” with what. And we were very wrong. Very, very wrong.

While we stand by the idea that most wine goes with most plain chocolate, flavored chocolate is a whole different beast. Example:  Chambourcin wine and orange chocolate do NOT go together.  Kinda like the pair of friends you have that you never invite to the same event. Chambourcin wine is best with just plain dark chocolate truffles.  We also thought that really sweet wine, like Concord, worked well with salty truffles.

But there were a few wines that were really enhanced when paired with flavored chocolate.  For instance, Vidal Blanc wine pairs well with citrus in general, so it was natural to try the Valley Blush wine, which is a blend with Vidal Blanc, with orange chocolate.  Wow.  We were all pretty shocked at the outcome.  Similarly, the Vidal Blanc wine and citrus truffle are absolutely splendid together.

Here is our list of recommendations
  • Concord and sea salt
  • Chambourcin and dark chocolate
  • Chardonel and almond
  • Vidal Blanc and citrus
  • Blackberry and extra dark or hazelnut
  • Fletched and coconut or strawberry
  • Chambourcin Rose and white chocolate (strawberries and cream anyone?)
  • Valley Blush and orange
  • Winter Blend and salted caramel

Nota bene: blueberry truffles hated all wine pairings. At least in our mouths.

posted by Anja Weyant