I’ve always liked the word “brandywine.” I don’t know that it means anything, really, other than an archaic word for brandy. It’s also an excellent name for rivers, creeks, and various places and persons in Middle Earth. Now, however, we’ve given the name to a small batch of apple wine we’re enjoying on the homestead.
A year ago June, I took a risk. Michelle had cleaned out the pantry, and found a couple quart jars that held juice from Charles Anway apples (see Gleaning). They were very old; when we opened them, the juice looked sludgy, dark, and uninviting. I had extra wine yeast available, so we decided to try making wine with it. What could we lose?
Had we not tried it, we would have lost the best wine I’ve made yet!
The resulting wine, tasted when young, had all the qualities we like from our other Anway apple wines. In addition, it tasted even fresher, stronger, as if biting into a fresh, crisp apple, and had a lovely dark amber or caramel color.
Our careful sampling soon finished one of the two bottles we got from the batch. We hoarded the second one until Aly’s birthday recently. The intervening months had aged this bottle into something truly special. I think the alcohol may have increased markedly, giving it the flavor and sting of a brandy. Hence, brandywine. It was so good that Aly, usually abstemious other than an occasional hard cider, liked it enough to share it with us.
We’ve been carefully nursing this last bottle. It’s almost gone. We have no hope of reproducing this, unless we manage to can more juice and leave it for unspecified years before making it into wine. Hopefully, I can match or exceed it with the current and future apple wine batches. It’s a new high water mark, something to strive for!