Saturday, 3 November 2012

Ice Wine Anyone?

 We've now had several frosts, with temperatures going down to -3C overnight once or twice. The grape vines in the orchard have now shed all their leaves, but there are still unpicked bunches of fruit hanging from increasingly wizened stalks.


The frost doesn't harm the fruits, in fact it may even make them sweeter. There is so much sugar already in each berry that they don't freeze and turn to mush. Here in the Loire there isn't really a tradition of making ice wine from the frosted grapes, but I can continue to enjoy my table grapes for a few more days yet. Soon the sap will recede to such an extent that the stalks will give out and the bunches will all fall to the ground, but before that happens, I'll be making an attempt to eat them myself. Anything remaining I am happy to donate to the wildlife..

23 comments:

  1. Ken: I know I should make grape jelly, but I just can't get enthusiastic about it.

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  2. We went for a walk yesterday and noticed unpicked bunches on the vines. We wondered why and now we know one reason.

    We have a couple of bottles of ice wine from Canada which we have used for a dessert wine. Very sweet.

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  3. Why not juice them, Susan? They'd make a great drink.

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  4. @Susan - we can attest that they taste great! Thank you :-)

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  5. Tim: You are probably right. I just get tired thinking about it though - all that pressing through a strainer n stuff.

    N&A: glad you like them.

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  6. What a glorious color they are.

    Don't blame you for not wanting
    to get involved in jellying
    and juicing.

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  7. Leave them for the Jay's they eat mine faster than I can pick them.

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  8. Susan... do you want to borrow our centripetal juicer?

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  9. I'm not into pressing grapes in a centrifuge...I remember the mess...

    An elderly neighbour had Chasselas and she used to preserve them in two ways.
    One was to cut the stem with a 'hook' and keep the hook under water in a bottle, the cluster of fruit hanging over the side.
    This could be variable so she kept an eye on them!
    The other, which she used only for the best fruit, was to keep them in water as above for a couple of days, then dry and wax the stem top.
    They were hung on a rack and kept covered loosely in muslin.

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  10. C&E: curiously, I don't seem to be loosing very many to the wildlife.

    Tim: yes, please. Simon has said that if I pick them, he will make jelly too.

    Fly: very interesting. I can see how it would work.

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  11. Pick grapes off stalks and put into a blender to make juice!

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  12. Thank you for your kind remarks on the Expats Blog site...much appreciated.

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  13. Sweetpea: I don't own a blender and anyway, wouldn't that aerate the juice too much and introduce bad flavours from mangled pips?

    Fly: my pleasure to review a blog that isn't written by an over-excited American newlywed :-)

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  14. Fly's blog is far too negative for me. I came here because I wanted to live in France, and enjoy it.

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  15. And reading the last couple of posts by Fly, it's obvious there's some kind of obsession with France that won't stop even when the obsessed one is outside the country.

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  16. What type of table grapes are you growing? We have (had) some gamay (identified according to one of your previous posts) but they never ripened. I'm keen to grow my own table grapes.

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  17. We bought a couple of bottles of German ice wine a couple of years ago, made deliberately from frozen grapes. It was delicious as a dessert wine, but rather pricey, so we have resisted buying more of it.

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  18. Ken: isn't it curious how the same words resonate differently for different readers? I read her last post and wanted to go to Coteau du Layon immediately -- she made it sound so interesting and attractive. I would categorise her style as dryly cynical, but full of sound good sense and a generosity of spirit. Likewise I wouldn't say obsessed -- rather she enjoys the creative outlet of writing and there are interesting aspects of life in France worth commenting on.

    Fraussie: so far as I can work out our black grape is some sort of Black Hamburg -- it was already there when we bought the orchard but not marked on the tree plan.

    Jean: I've never had any, but would be keen to try it. It's a great marketing hook too.

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  19. Susan, the Victorian Kitchen Gardener has the same method of preserving grapes that Fly mentions... and there are special bottles [now found only in antique shops] to hang the bunches in... it was done so that those 'Upstairs' could have nice bunches of grapes throughout winter.

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  20. Susan, I just read Fly's post about the Coteaux du Layon and enjoyed it to. She seems to have turned over a new leaf since starting that blog. I knew the other one, French Leave, the tone of which I never could quite figure out.

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