Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Thirsty for Something: Make Your Own Booze and Appreciate It, Too

There is something to be said for homemade booze. 
Here's what I've been up to.  

First I chose to make limoncello, a very traditional Italian liqueur.  I used a potato peeler to peel about two dozen lemons, then my favorite paring knife to fillet off any of the white pith that may add unwanted bitterness to my concoction.  I dropped these peels into a jar to mingle with two bottles of 151 proof grain alcohol for about two weeks. Next, I drained them, then added sugar water to the mix and left it in a large pitcher for these favors to marry overnight. Next, I bottled. Friends and family have been enjoying it as an aperitif for the past three weeks. I have a taste every evening as I'm making dinner for my husband and me.  For me, it's a celebration, a little giggly pat on the back for a good day of work.  How better to reward myself for a successful day of labor in my kingdom (my rental properties of which I am queen) than with a little drink that I made with a few hours of my own labor? I keep it very cold in the refrigerator and serve it in a small cordial glass with a stem so that the warmth of my fingers doesn't prematurely deprive me of frosty cold pleasure. It makes me happy because I think that just maybe the heat I feel on my arms might actually be warm tropical sunshine instead of the gas burner of the stove threatening to singe my arm hair. In the same way I pretend traffic noise is distant ocean waves when I am sitting on our porch, I think of my homemade limoncello transporting me to another place, somewhere that things aren't produced en mass without attention by uncaring strangers, but to a comfortable place with cozy chairs where things are thoughtfully crafted, designed for enjoyment by and with the ones I care about most. 

This evening, I corked seven bottles of orange wine made from an old folk recipe. A few weeks ago,  I juiced the oranges and poured them into a two and a quarter gallon crock from an antique market.  To this I added yeast, a piece of toast (yeast makes the magic happen, people!), and a couple of other things, and I left it sit happily corked in the garage for 3 weeks. Having spent an hour sterilizing my equipment in preparation, I am please to announce that it rendered 7 full bottles.  Corking them with the rubber mallet wasn't the best part; I admit that I did not have the patience for my Portuguese free standing corker to arrive in the mail. They are now down in the basement in the bar units that were once shoe racks for our kids.  They will rest for a year, and then they will be ready for me to enjoy. Such an exercise in patience for me! Well, maybe I'll be OK. There was enough left in the crock to make a third of a bottle that I parked in the fridge. What's my plan? I'm thinking a backyard party for next year, a homemade wine and food pairing in my pretty little yard with my veggie garden and my koi pond. That really is a big part of the enjoyment of wine- the sharing of the experience with others. Food and wine has a way of bringing people together.  The need to eat and drink is something we all have in common.  It's meant to be. 
Nothing is sadder than a lonely wino, especially one who doesn't appreciate what the hell he's drinking.  
As I write, I lay in bed half stunata on my orange wine.  As I continue my education in enology, I'll be able to calculate the alcohol content in my creations.  I'm currently not fit for math. But you know, I am relaxed, I feel creative, I want to share what I am feeling. I'm having an experience. 
I created something. Cool experience, and I'm enjoying it. 
I'm looking forward to sharing it. 
It's gonna be a long year. 

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