Using up poor homemade wine
August 16, 2011 3:07 AM   Subscribe

We have quite a bit of homemade wine (esp. rhubarb and hawthorn) that is too 'rough' to drink, but we don't want to throw it away. Does anyone have ideas as to what we could do with it? I use it in cooking, but can only use a little otherwise it spoils the flavour!
posted by BobAndJoy to Food & Drink (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You could reduce it with some stock and make a nice thick jus which would be fine to freeze. perhaps with chutneys or preserves too. When you say rough, is the alcohol content a factor? because that is easy to fix.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 3:32 AM on August 16, 2011

1: make vinegar. You'll need to acquire a vinegar "mother"; i've gotten one from just asking everyone I know who experiments in the kitchen, but they're also available online.

2: make liquor. you'll need a distillation apparatus. note: in most places, this is not - strictly speaking - legal. if you're not distributing the end result, there is a very slim chance you'll be caught. Decide for yourself if you want to go that route.

3: age it. with a lot of fermented goods, time makes a difference. I've made beer that wasn't great to start out, but was vastly, vastly improved a month later. depending on how the wine is stored, you could try putting some cubes of toasted oak in there, see if that smooths the flavor out after a couple months.

if by "rough" you mean tannins/acidic, vinegar might be a good route to take.
posted by dubold at 3:32 AM on August 16, 2011 [3 favorites]

Do what the Mexicans do. Mix it with Coca-Cola and drink it.

Alternatively, fix it up with sparkling water and fruit and make your own sangria.
posted by megatherium at 4:17 AM on August 16, 2011

How old is your wine? Putting fruit wine down for at least six months takes the rough edges off (but unlike grape wine, I wouldn't age country wines more than say 2 years). There's definitely a sweet spot with these wines.

If you don't have the space or time to put bottles down, consider making fortified wine. This is good if it's already on the sweet side. Basically, adding sweetener (not sugar, you don't want to accidentally kick off refermentation if wild yeast get in there) and brandy to taste. We've done this with some less-than-satisfactory apricot wine and the result was pleasingly like tawny port.

Is it just rough, or is it medicinal (if so, add more citric acid)? Is it drinkable mixed with fizzy water or lemonade? We get through some flat tasting wine that way. It's nice chilled.

Distillation is expensive and fiddly, unless you buy one of those water distillers everyone's (ahem) talking about that can be (nothing to see here, HMRC, nothing to see here) repurposed. If you know someone who already is distilling best give it a whirl on their rig first. It's a heck of an investment, be sure that's what you want to do before getting into it.

I'd be careful introducing mother of vinegar unless your winemaking setup is sparkling clean and you have the space to keep it and the equipment involved far, far away from your main winemaking kit. From experience. Been there, been heartbroken.

What's your abv? If it's high enough to pickle fruit without going mouldy, pour over summer fruits in a clay pot and let em steep. Add more fruits and booze to top up. The pot that never empties. It's great over ice cream.
posted by Cuppatea at 4:19 AM on August 16, 2011

I used to home brew. One important lesson to learn is, sad as it may sound, if it's honestly undrinkable (or, at the very least, unenjoyable) you should probably just swallow your pride and dump the stuff. Take it as a lesson learned.

That said, I once made a stout that was truly nasty. I just shoved the case of bottles in the corner of the basement and forgot about them. For over a year.

One day, I was cleaning the basement and found the bottles of the nasty stout. On a self-dare, I popped a bottle open and took a taste. Lo-and-behold, the beer fairies had magically transformed the nasty stuff into something smooth and drinkable.

So, maybe you should just lay the wine down in a cool corner somewhere and see what magic time works?
posted by Thorzdad at 5:44 AM on August 16, 2011

Both rhubarb and hawthorn are high in oxalate, and I suspect that's what's making wines from them so "rough."

Literally rough, perhaps:

The "gritty mouth" feeling one experiences when drinking milk with a rhubarb dessert is caused by precipitation of calcium, abstracted from the casein in dairy products, as calcium oxalate.[citation needed]

And saliva itself can contain significant calcium.

Some grapes are fairly high in oxalate, apparently concord in particular, so you might expect yeasts used for making concord grape wine, such as "Lalvin 71B, Red Star Côte des Blancs or Champagne", to be good at reducing oxalate content.

Metal ions such as calcium and especially iron are very good at pulling ox out of solution, so you could try treating your wine with very small amounts of a food safe, soluble iron compound.
posted by jamjam at 12:36 PM on August 16, 2011

You could try freeze distillation to make something along the lines of applejack.
posted by catastropher at 1:33 PM on August 16, 2011

You could also try making mulled wine with it. I have a batch of plum wine that didn't turn out so well, but add a bit of heat, sweetness and spice, and people queue up for more.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 8:16 PM on August 17, 2011

Response by poster: Many thanks for all your suggestions. We'll try lots of them ... we have a lot of lacklustre wine!
posted by BobAndJoy at 11:11 AM on August 18, 2011

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