Monday, September 27, 2010

Broth from Bones

One thing I do frequently in the kitchen is make savory stocks from leftover bones, fishheads, etc. My freezer in New York is filled with ziplock bags laid on their sides and frozen like shingles, all labeled and dated, the basis of many a good gumbo and sauce.

Like the bones and other tidbits left at the end of a meal, the remaining under-ripe grapes on the lower, less sunny, more oidio prone vines in the vineyard would not let me sleep. Was there something I could do with them besides make vinegar? Were there enough good grapes there to make a little, say, an easy going apperitivo? Something thirst-quenching that doesn't need to assert itself during summertime sunset conversation? Maybe a frivolous rosato (rose')? Or an unassuming Prosecco-like spumante? Waking up with a resounding "yes!" in my head, I began to scheme. That was yesterday, Sunday.

Fast-forward to lunch. Sally and I talk over our Salad Nicoise of mainly ingredients from the garden. "I would like to pick the rest of the grapes (etc.)," I say, "Maybe tomorrow with Alesio. Could you help for 2 or 3 hours? Don't worry; it's nothing like the work of the first batch."


"I'm thinking of making frivolous rose' out of them."


"The only thing is wineries are starting to make rose' here now, so it wouldn't stand out as unique. Maybe it would just be easier to let the grapes go and keep buying inexpensive rose'? On the other hand, nobody makes a sparkling wine here. A sparkling rose' would truly be unique. It could be the champagne of Tuscany."

"Let's make that!"

"The only problem with sparkling wines is you have to start with lower sugar so there's room to add a little bit more yeast and grape juice to carbonate it in the bottle without the alcohol killing off the yeast before it can."


"And since the grapes were already at that level (19 Brix) when I checked last week, they are already in danger of getting out of that range. For a unique spumante rosato, I should really pick them NOW."


It took from 2:00 to 7:00 p.m. to bring them in (under threatening skies) and select only the best bunches into the 100 liter vat. By 8:00 o'clock they were stomped (again by my feet) and left to sit overnight.

Just now, at 10:00 a.m. Monday, I have inoculated the must with yeast. There they are, the leftovers, stewing in their own juices, extracting a little color and flavor from the skins as polyphenols, making a rich and savory broth from the bones.

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