Friday, August 12, 2011

Imagining A Wassail Wine

When I think of Christmas I always remember my grandmother's wassail punch. And pfefernuese cookies. But mostly the punch. It would be in a huge pot on the stove and the whole house would smell wonderful. She made this every year. But when I asked for the recipe, before she passed away, she couldn't remember. I want to try to recreate those holiday smells and flavors in a special wine. Here are the cast of characters.

I remember that the punch contained cranberry juice, oranges, cinnamon and cloves. I am using a frozen apple cranberry juice as my base. I like frozen juices because they don't contain preservatives. Make sure it is 100% juice, though. I have 3 organic oranges from my previous Full Circle delivery, some cinnamon sticks (that husbeast bought to add to a beer but never used), whole cloves and chopped raisins. Why raisins? I love the body and color that raisins add to wine. Also in the picture are yeast nutrient, pectic enzyme and Campden tablets. And a straining bag for the must. The white bucket is one of my primary fermentors.

The most time consuming part was preparing the oranges. First I used a zester to remove the rind from all 3 oranges. This will go into the must bag, along with the chopped raisins and the orange pulp. Once the zest was removed I peeled the oranges, removed the white pith (it's bitter), and put the orange sections through my juicer. I can't remember if I introduced you to my "new-to-me" juicer? This is one of my best ever thrift store finds. An ACME Supreme Juicerator for $19.99. These go for $200 new. Especially with the stainless steel bowl and basket. I was pretty darned excited when I saw it on the shelf at Bargain World.

And it works perfectly. It extracts every last bit of juice leaving a nice dry pulp. This is the juice from my 3 oranges.

That wassail wine is now waiting overnight for the Campden tablet to gas off and kill any yeasts that are present on any of the ingredients. I also started a 2 gallon batch of my raspberry apple wine. They are hanging out in the kitchen, covered with towels.

I have some yeast starter going and will pitch the yeast late this afternoon, after the Campden is finished doing its thing. You can't tell by the next  picture but the yeast is bubbling away, multiplying for me. When I pitch it there will be many more yeast cells than if I just pitched the dry yeast in on top. We want to give the wine a good strong start.

This is the all purpose wine yeast I use. Buying it in bulk saves a LOT of money over buying the individual foil packets. I store this in the freezer and it should last a long time. 

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