Semi Homemade Sweet & Fruity Wine

Semi Homemade Sweet & Fruity Blackberry Wine

Semi Homemade Sweet & Fruity Blackberry Wine

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a big drinker. I like wine sometimes, Baileys in the Winter as well as hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps in it. And I admit to a liking for any of the vodkas made by Pinnacle Vodka. I have simple tastes there too though- toss some of the whipped cream flavor into Orange Crush and I’m happy hehe. Problem is, even with booze, though I don’t drink it, I get caught up in ideas surrounding it, especially nowadays with so many cool sounding things out on the market. I have a bunch of stuff gathering dust because it sounded interesting but if I drink hard liquor, I’m likely to be snoring within ten minutes.

So, since I like to play with my booze :-P, a few years ago I decided to see what I could do to make inexpensive wine a bit better.

I’m so far from a wine snob it’s kind of laughable. I have been known to happily drink Mogen David. I draw the line at Boones Farm though… had enough of that back when I was too young to know any better. Point being, I like sweet wines. Dry wines are too..well… dry for me. I love to use them in cooking and love the flavor they impart there but other than an occasional glass of Cabernet, I prefer my wines sweet. Not being able to afford a wine making kit complete with five gallon jug, locks, etc etc, I make my own with bottled wine. And EVERYONE who has ever tried it has loved it. it’s sweet, fruity, full flavored, NOT DRY, inexpensive for what you end up with and has a bit more of a kick than “normal” wines because of the brandy I add to fortify it.

This is more of a technique than a recipe but I will post it in recipe format. make this this week and by the time Labor Day hits, you can strain it out and have a nice sweet glass of wine over ice while you grill out.

You know the drill. Erhmmm, get to bottling??

Semi Homemade Sweet & Fruity Wine

  • 1 gallon jug (just writing jug for wine tells you how NOT seriously I take wine since jug wine is so maligned lol) of decent but inexpensive red wine (I use either Gallo Burgundy or “Sweet Red Wine” which isn’t really sweet, so I’m not sure from where the name comes. Burgundy makes a heavier wine, the sweet red a lighter one)
  • An empty 750 liter bottle  (because once you add the additional ingredients, you have too much for the gallon bottle and need another bottle. You could of course just drink about 3 glasses then you’d have enough room 😀 )
  • 1 1/2 lbs frozen blackberries or raspberries (I have done both; the blackberry is what is in this photo)- make sure they are frozen, not thawed
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 ounces brandy (an airline bottle is the right size)
  1. Pour about 1/4 of the gallon of wine into another container. Or drink it. I won’t judge… though it could make continuing this process rather interesting hehe
  2. Use a funnel and pour the sugar into the gallon wine bottle. Now take your frozen berries and shove them down into the bottle. This is boring and makes your hands purple but short of pureeing the berries which makes it difficult to strain later (trust me; I tried), it’s the only way to get them in there. but this is why you leave them frozen. Can you imagine shoving mushy thawed ones in there? Lol.
  3. Now pour the brandy in there.
  4. Cap the bottle back up tightly, shake it well and store it in a cool dark place.
  5. Go back once a day for the first week to shake it to keep the sugar mixed.
  6. Let this sit for about 3 to 4 weeks. Strain through a coffee filter set into a fine mesh strainer over a bowl (this takes a while so be patient) then taste it. if it’s not sweet enough for you, add about another half a cup of sugar then cap it and set it back in a cool place for another week. After that, pour some over ice and enjoy.
  7. This makes a great spritzer also. Just mix 1:1 with some club soda or 7-up.
  8. This can also be made with white wine and something like peaches, nectarines or pears. But I personally didn’t care for it as much. You may however.

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I Want A Cow Named Herman


Or maybe I can name him Stanley. Or Shakespeare. Or I could just name him Dinner and be honest about it.

One of my many pipe dreams is to own a good amount of land and be self sufficient. Live off the grid so to speak. I want a solar paneled house, generators just in case, a large (I mean like half an acre or more) garden, many many fruit and nut trees (and vines and bushes), a clean well, a fully stocked pond and animals. Many many animals. I want pigs (yes I would name them too… possibly Wilbur. Or Lunch.) chickens, ducks, geese, goats and cows. Also cats, dogs, hamsters and monkeys. Many monkeys.

Why you ask? Because our economy is sinking ever downwards for one and I like to plan ahead but also because, even though I know it would be hard work, I have always loved the idea of having a working farm. One that enables us to be utterly NOT dependent on anyone but ourselves. That and because meat is so darn expensive!

I know myself and my family though. Here is what would really happen. We would cultivate the land, have many many fruits and veggies. We would care for these named animules (sorry, they are animules. My dad always used that as the word and I continue it in his name 😀 ). They would grow and be healthy and happy. Joshie would ride on their backs and pet them. Jordan would lovingly brush them. Zachie would have to be stopped from putting saddles on them to prove to the world that he is macho and capable of riding a two ton bull named Don Corleone.

They would then take over the house because not a one of us would ever be able to kill them and eat them. They would sleep in our beds, hogging the covers and turning the heat too high, steal the remote for the TV and only watch The Simpsons and Animal Planet. They would eat my Twinkies and Cheetos which I’m pretty sure is a mortal sin, burp a lot, wear wife beaters around the house and tell me to go make them a sammich. Within a year, we would be the ones sleeping in the barn waiting for the final execution date and our lives would be a vivid remix and remake of both Soylent Green with a large gun toting cow playing Charlton Hestons part and Planet of the Apes with us in old Charlies role of running from the animals so that they didn’t cage us. Hmmm, did you ever notice that Charlton Heston played in some really strange depressing movies?

In the meantime however, I will continue to get my meat from the grocery store wrapped in plastic on a nice Styrofoam tray. I will do my best to NOT name my fried chicken and steaks just as I didn’t name the pot roast I made. Somehow, it’s ok to eat it if I didn’t cuddle it and name it first and scoot over on the couch so that it could watch The Simpsons..

This isn’t a quick dish here. The way I make it it takes two days because I partially cook it then refrigerate it to let the grease harden then scoop that off. If you’re not as grease averse as I am however (makes me sick as can be) you can forgo the refrigerating step and go straight to the transferring from the stove top to the oven stage. It’s still not a dish to plan on making when you get home from work however. This is a great weekend “I’m actually able to get the whole family to the table” type of dinner. This is homey and comforting and perfect for a Winters night or just a cool rainy night any time of the year.

  • Red Wine Braised Pot Roast
  • 1 3 to 5 pound chuck roast (usually will have a label on it saying “good for braising or pot roasts”. Get any roast that says that.)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cans beef broth
  • 2 cups dry red wine (I used a Pinot Noir)
  • 2 large onions, each cut into 8 wedges
  • 3 cloves chopped garlic
  • 2 shallots, sliced thin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried Rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried Thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt or celery seed
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 pounds small red (or Yukon gold) potatoes
  • 1 pound carrots, topped and cut into three pieces (two if it’s a particularly small carrot)
  1. In a large pan (I use a 12 inch deep chicken frying pan), add your olive oil. Heat for about 90 seconds over medium high heat then carefully add your roast. Cover the pan and let sear until nicely browned, about five minutes. Turn to the other side and repeat.
  2. When it is browned, take it out and set aside. Add the onions, garlic and shallots to the pan. Cook until they are soft and the onions are lightly browned. Add the red wine and deglaze the pan, scraping to get up all the little browned bits.  Add in the herbs, celery seed and Worcestershire sauce.
  3. Add the roast back to the pan. Add the 2 cans of beef broth. Cover tightly and turn the heat down to a simmer (about 3 on an electric stove)
  4. Let cook for 90 minutes, keeping it covered.
  5. Turn off heat. Transfer the roast to a large foil lined baking pan or LARGE Dutch Oven. You need room for the veggies you’ll be putting in there. Add in the carrots and potatoes around the roast. CAREFULLY pour the hot braising liquid all over the meat and vegetables.
  6. Now you can either let this cool enough to be easy to carry with no fear of burning the crap out of yourself and refrigerate it until the next day or continue with the oven cooking. If you want to put it in the fridge, cover it tightly with foil, then the next day, uncover it, scoop off any hardened grease and discard that.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  8. Cover tightly with foil again and cook at 350 for about 2 hours. By then the meat will be falling apart tender and the vegetables fully cooked and nicely flavored with the pan juices.
  9. If you want to make a gravy out of this (I usually just serve it with the pan sauces as is) strain out the pan juices through a mesh strainer into a medium pot. Put those onions back in that pan with the other veggies though. They are by this time practically melted down to nothing and very sweet and taste delicious. Don’t waste them! 😛
  10. Take the strained liquid and heat to boiling. Take 1/3 cup flour and slowly (do it quickly and you will have more lumps than you can ever get out) add 1 cup of the liquid to it to make a soupy paste. Slowly pour this back into the pot of boiling liquid, whisking all the time. Turn the heat down to about 4 or 5 and stirring constantly, cook until nice and thickened. Season this to taste with salt and pepper.

Herman The Cannibal Cow waiting for his share. He's NOT getting mine.