10 Wines

I blame this adventure on two wonderful friends in Chicago. Actually, I'm thanking them. In 2012 I attended their beautiful wedding on Lake Michigan which was followed by a reception at an Ethiopian restaurant. It was there that I first had Tej, an Ethiopian honey wine. It was sexy, sweet and wonderful to my taste buds, I had to have more. The the sad reality set in. I couldn't find it locally. I scoured the internet for someone to ship it to me with no luck to be had. I know my parents had made wine in the basement of our northern Ohio farm house when I was very young, so if they can do it then whey can't I. This began my research stage. Read, read, read. Read again. First, it was the general how of wine making. I started to come to the conclusion that this was going to be part art, part science and part luck. Next is time to find the ingredients for Tej. Well, actually it was more like finding out what is in it to begin with. Easy enough. Not really. Eventually I stumbled on Gesho as the ingredient providing the wild yeast needed for fermenting my happy batch of Tej. Now locating a source for Tej proved difficult, but finally I found some in 1/4 pound bags. I ordered four. Now it was a fermenting vessel that I needed. A one gallon glass jar with a loosely fitting lid seemed appropriate. I can tell you that my first batch smelled horrible. After 4-5 weeks I filled up some mason jars with my very first attempt just in case it took a little more time to age. After a week or so I had built up my nerves to try a glass. The smell was still similar to nail polish remover. The taste, mildly pleasant honey sweet. The combination of smell and taste, I couldn't do it, not more than a couple small sips and down the drain the whole batch went. Back to the drawing board. Back to reading, more reading, re-reading. I started trying to engrain some of the scientific aspects of wine making in general into my head. I was also losing my taste rememberers (if that's a word) what the Tej was supposed to taste like. Time to start planning on another trip to Chicago. I decided that this time I was going to use proper equipment. I went a little overboard with my first order, 2 carboys, 2 fermentation buckets, proper sanitation solutions, air locks. If I'm going to do this, I'm going to do it right. After returning from a trip back to Chicago to remind my taste buds of what I was trying to make, my second batch was almost ready after yet another 2 1/2 months of waiting. This new "hobby" was testing my patience, but into the bottles it went, very messily, I might add. I had sticky Tej all over the floor after corking the 12th bottle. Another 1-2 weeks of waiting and it was tasting time. The final result was not bad, it was a tad too sweet (mental note for the next batch) but a few ice cubes chilled it just enough and watered it down to a pleasant drink. Time to adjust the recipe according to the results and try again soon. But then the explosion happened. I wanted to try more. Strawberries were almost in season and that sounded really refreshing and southern. Back to researching, buying some more equipment. I was getting antsy waiting for the strawberries, the cold Spring has delayed them from being ready to pick. I found organic frozen blueberries from last season online for a reasonable price. They are finished thawing as I'm typing, waiting to be squashed into a nice concoction for my primary fermenter. So my third batch of wine will be fully documented (I will go back and do my best on the Tej) and all future batches. I'm very new to this world and will continue to learn as I go, I'm sure I will have more bad batches and the period of time before you know exactly how good or bad it will be is just as exciting about carefully crafting the wine, racking, bottling, enjoying. I'm not the expert, but I'm having fun! 2013 Tej 2013 Blueberry 2013 Dandelion ...this page is dedicated to my 2 wonderful friends in Chi-Town that started it all!