A toast to the season

A toast to the season

Uncorking tradition

A toast to the season

Well, hasn’t this year flown past? It seems the year had just arrived and now, Christmas is around the corner. The winter breeze is here with the aroma of wines and cakes marking the preparation for the festivities. While the restaurants and bakeries in the City are decking their outlets with Christmas colours, households are involved in keeping some traditions alive.

One tradition that is followed with much joy and fervour is that of wine making. A festival of giving, Christmas is also analogous with the joy of wine making and many houses in the City have already stocked up the shelves with a variety of homemade wines.

Mareena Jerrish, a food blogger, grew up watching her mother religiously follow the tradition of Christmas wine making and baking. She says, “It was two years back that I decided to carry forward this ritual — not precisely to follow the tradition, but more because of the demands that started flowing in during this season. Every guest, who walks into our house during Christmas season, asks me one question — ‘Where is the Christmas wine?” This frequently asked question needed an answer and she started making wine, referring to her mother’s recipe. Her mother makes rose apple, banana and beetroot wines among other flavours. But Mareena is an expert in making grape, ginger and pineapple wine.

     “The basic ingredients are sugar, boiled and cooled water, yeast, and desired fruit. But some flavours can be enhanced by adding crushed wheat,” she explains.   

While the imported wines at the store cater to a limited age group, the Christmas wine diligently made by Rosaline Antony is for all. Bringing the season with the scent of wine for 20 years now, Rosaline uses all natural ingredients in her wine — grapes, sugar, cinnamons, cloves and cardamoms. “Once these ingredients are mixed in proportion, the mixture has to be kept covered for two days. Broken wheat and nutmegs are then added and kept air tight for 40 days. After this, the contents need to be strained into a jar using a cloth, which then can be cooled and served,” she explains.

These homemade wines might have the same basic ingredients but each passionate winemaker gives them a twist of his or her own, which makes them so sought-after.

     Prashant George has kept his hands busy for over 20 years — making wine for Christmas. While he brews many flavours, it is the banana wine that does not fail to delight his friends. “The shop wines taste the same, but homemade wines have eclectic flavours. I use additives like cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and black pepper to enhance the flavours of the fruits.” He says that the wine-making process starts with the grape season (from January), but the tasting session begins with Christmas just around the corner. “The more number of days you keep the wine, the more mature the wine tastes,” he says.

It is not just the fruits. Vegetables too are a favourable ingredient for wines. Also, what is best about homemade wines is that they can be sweetened to suit each one’s taste. Santosh Rego calls wine making his passionate hobby and says, “I like making wine for Christmas for my family and friends.”

Grape, passion fruit, gooseberry, beetroot, ginger and other vegetables; he also makes wine from readymade fruit juices. “I customise the wine depending on how sweet each one wants it to be. I add yeast for fermentation. Abroad, there is wine specific yeast. But one cannot find it here. Wine is also stabilised with the help of oak barrels that absorb the flavours,” he says.

With each expert hand brewing the classy beverage, Bengalureans are ready to toast the season with fervour and joy.

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