The Snobby Homesteader’s Wine (boxed and oddly delicious)

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I do enjoy a glass of wine at dinner.  Sitting in the restaurant that my daughter, Emily, works at enjoying a small pizza and the house wine is enjoyable to me.  I told one of my friends who was there that the wine wasn’t the best, most award winning, but it was quite good, and really quite excellent with food.  I have a reputation for being a wine snob.  I am not proud of this, but I also am not drinking the mass produced style wines.  Concannon or Mondavi?  I’ll pass.

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I wasn’t always this way.  I didn’t start drinking any type of alcoholic beverage until I was twenty-seven years old.  And my first tastes of red wine were enjoyable as long as they were kind of weak.  Then I started tasting nuances that I really enjoyed as we began hanging out at the wine bar with friends more; dried fruit, molasses, vanilla, the taste of hot summer sun in the Andes…I have quite an imagination.  I wanted to know more about these tastes and was fascinated that a bottle of wine will taste different depending on what day you open it.  Terroir became a puzzle, a mystery of place and time,  or wine maker, and harvesters, of weather patterns, of flavor.  A few beginning sommelier classes made me even more obsessed and probably obnoxious to drink with.  Then I became a homesteader a little more seriously.  Which means that gone are the days of my beloved wine club.  No more cases of various wines being delivered up the front walk.  It was an expensive year this year and two hundred dollars being withdrawn every couple of months takes a chunk out of wood, rent, and chicken feed money.

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I passed the boxes in the liquor store on my way to find something else.  I never give boxed wine a second look.  The Black Box brand is pretty good and I have drunk it before, but off hand, I never really consider boxed wine a go-to for dinner.  But there were some new kinds there that had big notifications on their boxes.  “Gold Metal” and “Platinum” and the Pinot Noir touted “45 Gold Metals from Wine Enthusiast”…I backed up and swiveled towards the mystery boxes.  Bota Box was an eco friendly and highly awarded boxed wine.

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Eighteen dollars.  Now, I spend around $14 on one bottle.  I am not always home at dinner time, I do not like vinegary wine, and I am the only one who partakes in a nice glass at dinner in our home (Doug’s more a beer man.) so that last glass in there often goes to waste.  Well, not to waste but into the red wine vinegar mother (click here to see how to make your own red wine vinegar) and then I need another $14 bottle of wine for the next week.  The boxed wine has four bottles in it, all sealed up nice and protected from oxygen, which is what turns it into vinegar, and will last up to four weeks.  Huh.  Funny the things homesteading with little cash will inspire you to try.

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“Look at the Franzia, it’s cheaper,” says my ever cost conscience non-wine connoisseur.

“Oh, heck no.  I am not drinking Franzia.”  Who the heck does he think I am?

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I chose an award winning boxed wine and imagine it to be like the demijohns of red wine that the Italians fill up at the local winery and took it home.

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Again, I rarely find that “Oh My Gosh, this is awesome wine!!!” and it is always a treat when I do but I want a good wine that goes well with food or on its own with a good book.  The Pinot Noir, the Sauvignon Blanc, and the Merlot have all delivered on that.  I am impressed.  The boxed wine is affordable, more eco-friendly, and good?  This is a win, win, win situation.

A few nights ago I cut through the restaurant kitchen with Emily to help her load the baby into the car after she got off work.  I looked up to see their house wine.  Franzia.  I had to just shake my head and laugh.

 

 

Homemade Red Wine Vinegar

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Our group of close friends has began giving each other more homemade gifts for holidays.  It is really fun to see what crafts, homemade items, and creativity we can come up with.  At Christmas we sat around my living room opening presents.  I opened the wrapping revealing a canning jar with a garnet colored liquid with something gelatinous floating within.  I excitedly yelped, as I knew precisely what it was.  A mother.

To start vinegar, as in many other cases, one must have a mother.  Rodney started his many months prior with an apple cider vinegar mother simply taken from a bottle of organic apple cider that says the mother is included.  Bragg’s makes one.  Seclude the gelatinous being floating about the jar (boy, this is getting more and more appetizing as we write, but stay with me now, good things are coming…) and place in a large glass container.  For me, I got part of the red wine mother that was floating in Rodney’s vinegar after several months of brewing.

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I placed the pint jar of old wine that became vinegar with the mother in a large glass container, added 1 cup of water, and the remaining wine in the bottle of red that had just started to turn.  I covered it with cheesecloth to keep fruit flies out (Lord, those guys like to drink) and any cat hair floating through the air.

I am the sole wine drinker here at the farm unless I have friends or students over so I always have that last cup of wine lurking at the bottom of the bottle by the fourth day.  It is not quite vinegar, not quite drinkable.  And that last bit of precious wine does not go down the drain any longer but into the vat of vinegar on the counter.  Oh, it is a lovely sight.  I am not wasting wine, and I am making a product to give to friends, use myself in my farm kitchen, and sell at the farmer’s markets.  In two months that first seven cups of wine, water, and mother have become the most delicious red wine vinegar.  Just keep adding wine to the mixture.

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White wine makes white wine vinegar, champagne makes champagne vinegar, beer makes malt vinegar, etc.  It is superior to the stuff in the store and a lot cheaper than the fine vinegars at the market.  I have made lovely salads for two days now with this vinegar that went something like this;

Tear up fresh butter lettuce, sprinkle on blue cheese, add slivered almonds, sliced strawberries.  In a bowl mix 4 Tablespoons of olive oil, 2 Tablespoons of vinegar, a dollop of grainy mustard, a large dollop of jam (I used raspberry jalapeno), and a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla salt.  Mix well and drizzle over salad.  A perfect combination of sweet, sour, savory, salt, and spice.  Serve with Pinot Grigio.