Five months after bottling my Barbarescanadianwelches “wine”, the itch has returned. Against all odds, the remaining 20 bottles have avoided ruin, re-fermentation, or apartment explosion. They even taste a bit better with the bottle shock faded. Yet, with poor acidity and minimal tannin structure, I doubt their futures.
Therefore, this Aeneas must leave Dido and the lap of wine-kit-complacency. Destiny calls. Inching towards real wine, I set sail in hope of picking, crushing and fermenting my own. However, grapes still cling green to the vine with the harvest months away.
In my impatience, I aim to fool Bacchus.
The blueberry, poor tough cousin to the grape, ripens with the arrival of August beneath the northeastern sun. This false berry rarely makes wine of merit. It bears the baggage of sweet confections and jams. Yet rich, dry red wine can be made from it. Thus, under spousal assistance (persistence), we go picking berries at Hand Mellon farm.My first day out, I ate more than I picked, got lost, came home happy and blue-fingered but disappointed by my lack of focus. Grape growers will plant different varietals and even various strains of the same grape in order to find the best match for their vineyard’s growing conditions (climate, weather, soil and slope). Hand Mellon is no different.
They grow four kinds of blueberry: Chandler, Blue Crop, Spartan, Nelson. I could just ferment my first haul en mass. But that would tell me nothing about what each type could provide. Sure, I could doctor the mix by adding acidity or sugar later, but each manipulation would walk my drink further and further from its source, tasting more of my process and assumptions of how things should taste than of the fruit.
Luckily, while I wallowed in worry, my spouse went picking again. She returned with bags separating each type. For the sake of science, I analyzed each:
Medium, high pulp, small seed, black skin. Slightly sweet, low acidity, light bodied, tasty, fine.
Small, little pulp, small seed, red blue skin. Sweet, high acidity, medium bodied, high skin, cherry.
Large, high pulp, low seed, firm red purple skin. Medium sweet, medium acidity, medium bodied, very aromatic, typical blueberry and tangy green notes.
Large, high pulp, medium seed, black blue skin. Very sweet, low acidity, medium body, firm skin, mellow blueberry plum notes.
I needed bulk, so Spartans offered the best choice. However, blueberries have 45% (9.96g/100g) less sugars (half fructose, glucose and trace sucrose) than grapes have (15.48g/100g). Thus adding some Chandler and Nelson might fill that gap, while adding complexity to the batch.
With weather cleared, I returned to pick properly.
I worked fast, cutting ahead of kids, their parents and dogs from getting the better fruit. The season was on the wane by now.
At the counter, my haul included 4.5 lbs of Spartans, 2.5lbs of Chandlers, 1.25lbs of Blue Crop and 1lb of Nelsons. Nearly ten pounds seemed like a enough.
To avoid a massive, fuzzy, white outbreak of mold I washed my acquisitions. Freezing them was the internet’s best advice for extraction, as the cold would break down cell walls.