Posts Tagged ‘Wine’

A Feast for Friends

October 28, 2012

Earlier this week, friends and I prepared a first century feast for sixteen friends. It was a perfect combination of food for the cold weather we have been enjoying here in the high country of Colorado. The main course was a stew with barley and beef ribs. This stew would taste good with herbs and spices like cumin and cilantro, but we used our Middle East spice mix and a lot of fresh dill. Along with the stew, we had asparagus with lemon and thyme, a wonderful salad made with cucumbers, onion, and chick peas.
The appetizers were equally appreciated: olives, pistachios, roasted almonds, and a delicious home made hummus. However, the hit of the evening was the lentils. They turned wonderfully, almost creamy, with onions, carrots, and a lot of garlic. Cumin and dry mustard are my favorite flavorings for lentils.
Dessert was pastries stuffed with figs or apricots and dates with cream cheese. We cheated and enjoyed a little coffee — certainly not very first century — but perfect with the pastries.
Homemade bread was served throughout the meal. The bread was made using the Mediterranean Grain Bread recipe from the book. In fact, all the recipes came from The Food and Feasts of Jesus. But do look for the Mediterranean Grain Bread recipe on-line. Patheos book club posted it on their site. It is a tasty grain bread!
But the true highlight of the evening was the sharing of food and wine – yes there was wine, too – with good friends. Feasting with friends is always a wonderful experience; I think it is just about the best possible way to spend an evening.
Prepare your own feast for friends and enjoy.

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New Wine, Old Skins

January 25, 2010

The wine is almost finished. The second fermentation is complete and we are now clarifying the wine and waiting for all the sediment to settle. We will bottle the wine within a week or two. We will then have a “new” wine. Actually, we will allow our malbec to sit in the bottle for at least six months before drinking it, though we have already done a little tasting. It is good wine, dry with oak overtones. Yes, we aged it with oak chips. It still has a little yeasty flavor which should disappear while it ages.

I mentioned in my last blog entry that the yeast for making wine occurs naturally on the outside of the grape skins. There are actually two types of yeast. The first variety begins to consume the sugar in the juice immediately after the skins are broken. Within several days, the alcohol level is already around 3% and the alcohol, a byproduct of the yeast consuming the sugar (called “fermentation”), is strong enough to kill this yeast. Then the second variety of yeast “kicks in” and the process of fermentation continues. We used wine yeast that comes in a little packet.

Many first century people preferred flavored wines. Honey was a favorite flavoring. So were cinnamon and cloves. First century folk also watered down their wine, sometimes by as much as fifty or sixty percent. Both fermentations usually took place outside, so at least some of the water evaporated. but maybe they just preferred thinner wine. It certainly helped the wine last longer and cut down on drunkenness, especially when it was consumed for lunch, or for breakfast!

Try this: heat one cup of water and one-half cup of honey until the honey completely dissolves into the water. Then add one bottle of wine. You may also add traditional mulling spices, like a stick of cinnamon, several cloves, lemon zest. Try other spices and herbs. Continue to heat but do not let it come to a boil. Serve at room temperature or, because it is winter, drink it hot.

Enjoy.

Wine to Make Glad

December 17, 2009

I have made cheese. I have brined olives. I have baked bread. For a true first century experience, I have to make wine. To begin, I have to admit that I have made wine on three different occasions. Each batch makes approximately six gallons, or around thirty bottles. My first two efforts produced a mediocre Shiraz. I chose shiraz because it was one of the grapes that was used to make wine in the Holy Land back at the time of Christ. For my third recipe, I used Italian Amarone juice. It resulted in a real decent wine, not quite on par with the Amarones from Northern Italy that cost around $60 a bottle, but still quite drinkable.

Six gallons of Malbec

This time I am making wine with a friend, Kenny Rogers. We are making a malbec. Our initial tests and tastings show that it should be a nice hearty red wine with an alcoholic level close to 14%. The experience is not quite like that of the fist century. Wagonloads of grapes were taken from the vineyards to a winepress – literally a hollowed rock. Family members would stomp the grapes (remember I love Lucy) until all the skins were broken. The yeast producing the fermentation was naturally present on the outside of the grape skins. Within three days, the grape juice was already fermenting and had a alcohol content of 3-4%. After fermentation, the wine was stored in amphorae, ceramic heartshaped containers with handles that held around six gallons. The tops were sealed with wood stoppers and pitch, to keep the wine from being exposed to air and spoiling. We used juice concentrate and prepackaged wine yeast.

Cheers!