Homemade Grape Wine/ Munthiri Wine- Kerala Christmas Recipe
Fruit cake and homemade wine are quintessential for the Kerala Christmas celebration. The Kerala style Christmas wine is an old fashioned sweet wine, with a subtle floral hint from spices like clove and cardamom. It is more like a fermented juice than an alcoholic beverage. This homemade wine tastes delicious and develops more complex flavors as it matures. It is a good accompaniment for spiced fruit cake, cheesecake and chocolate desserts. If you like sweet wine, you are sure to fall in love with this one. Does this sound exciting? Then check the recipe. It is easy to make- mix all the ingredients and let it ferment for 15- 21 days and let the magic to happen!
There is nothing fancy about this traditional style of wine-making, but there is a nostalgic feel to it. The yearly tradition of soaking fruits for cake and wine is always a family event. It starts a month before Christmas . Glass jars and Bharanis/ glazed earthen pottery are filled, with fresh fruits for wine, and dried fruits soaked in rum for spiced cake. It marks the beginning of the holiday spirit and the joy of welcoming the New Year. Making fruit cake and wine is like a tradition in Kerala, and it is a fun and interesting, process. It is best to ferment for at least 21 days, and the process turns the juice of crushed grapes into a gorgeously tasty sweet wine. You can allow it to ferment longer, for up to three months, and it develops more complex flavors.
This year I started my Christmas preparations early. How is the Christmas planning coming along for everyone? If you are planning to make wine for Christmas and New year, it is a good time to start soaking fruits for wine. Try this recipe, you will surely love it.
Kerala’s munthiri wine making is an art, and the tradition has passed down from generation to generation. It is a simple and straight-forward recipe. There are certain steps that you need to follow to ensure the best results.
1)The most important part is to start with everything clean and dry. Just like pickling, the container that you are using should be washed and sterilized with boiled water and wiped with a dry cloth. Wash and dry the grapes. It is best to spread it on a towel and let it dry out completely. Use paper napkins to remove any excess moisture.
2)Traditionally bharani/ glazed ceramic jars and pots are used to make wine. You can also use a glass jar. Do not fill the entire container and do not close tightly with a cap for the first few days. Use a muslin cloth or a clean unbleached cotton cloth to cover the lid and secure it with a cloth band. Keep it undisturbed in a dark place for 14 gays to ferment. On alternative days stir the mixture using a wooden spoon. The wine will look almost clear and all the frothing and bubbling should be over. If there are no air bubbles on the top it indicates that the wine is ready to be strained. Strain the wine and transfer it to dry clear bottles. Leave it undisturbed for one more week.
3) The color of the wine depends on the type of grapes. The darker the grapes the richer the hue. You can also use a combination of sweet and sour grapes. If you like rich darker colors, add a cube of cooked beetroot. In Kerala, caramel syrup is also added to the wine for a dark color.
4) Grapes, sugar, and yeast are the key ingredients that go into this wine. To aid the fermentation process, you can add a combination of wheat kernels and yeast. If you are intolerant to yeast, you can skip it. This wine is shelf-stable and can be stored in a cool dark place for months or even up to a year.
5) Some recipes call for adding an egg white. Adding egg whites is optional. It avoids a cloudy look and it helps to clear the wine.
6) Spices like cinnamon, clove, cardamon, etc can be used for flavor. In this recipe, I used cloves and ginger.
Homemade Grape Wine/ Munthiri Wine- Kerala Christmas Recipe
Red or black grapes- 1 1/2 kg
Sugar- 1 1/2 kg
Yeast- 1/2 tsp
Wheat kernels- 2 tbs
Water- 18 cups
Ginger chopped- 1 inch thick
Sugar for caramelizing- 1 cup
Wash and clean ceramic/glass jars. You can sun dry it or sterilize it with hot water. Wiped with a dry cloth and make sure there is no moisture.
Wash and clean the grapes and remove the stalks. Spread it on a towel and let it dry out completely. Use paper napkins to remove any excess moisture.
In a large saucepan, bring the 18 cups of water to a boil and let it come to room temperature.
Add the grapes, sugar, and wheat kernels to the glass jar. Add yeast, spices, and chopped ginger. It will add a nice spicy flavor to the wine.
Fill 2/3 of the glass jars with boiled room temperature water. If you like, you can mash the grapes using a wooden spatula or crush the grapes with your hands before adding them into the jar. Mix everything well. Do not close tightly with a cap for the first few days. Use a muslin cloth or a clean unbleached cotton cloth to cover the lid and secure it with a cloth band. Keep it undisturbed in a dark place. Keep the jar to ferment for 14-21 days. On alternative days stir the contents using a dry wooden spoon. You will notice air bubbles during the fermentation process. If there are no air bubbles on the top, it indicates that the wine is ready to be strained. Strain the grape pulp mixture into a sterilized container using a muslin cloth. Squeeze as much of the liquid as you can. The wine will be cloudy at this stage. Check for sweetness, and add more sugar if needed, and transfer in dry clear bottles. If you want a darker color to add caramelized sugar syrup
To make caramel sugar syrup.
Add one cup of sugar into a saucepan and put it in low, medium heat. Stir occasionally till the sugar melts and changes color. Keep scraping down the sides of the pan and make sure the sugar caramelizes evenly. When the color changes from golden to a dark amber color, carefully add 3/4 cup of water, little by little, and mix well. Bring it to a boil and switch off the flame. When it cools down to room temperature, add this to the wine and mix. Pour wine into a dry clear bottle and leave undisturbed in a cool dark space for one more week. You can leave it for 14 days for clear wine. Enjoy it with a rich fruit cake.
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Hope you will all enjoy!