Sunday, December 16, 2007

Yipee! Herbie wins a Silver!

Our favorite local apple orchard makes the best cider in the world, and we just happen to have a wine-maker in the family. Put the two together, and I get some lovely homemade apple wine. I knew Herbie's wine was good, but a silver medal on his first entry in the Great Lakes Olde World Syder Competition (GLOWS) is a well-deserved Attaboy.

The tale begins thirty something years ago when we were tent camping at Sleeper State Park in Caseville, Michigan. Late in the day, some folks pulled into the lot next to us just as it was beginning to sprinkle raindrops (our usual camping weather). They had a new fangled tent that they hadn't tried out yet and Herb helped them put it up, and later at the picnic table we shared a bottle of their homemade apple wine.
A few months later, a letter came in the mail from Bob Graham, of Brisco Brokers distributor of baking ingredients, with the detailed recipe for Herb to make his own delicious spiced apple cider wine. I won't share the recipe here, it is lengthy and wine making is an art I haven't explored. I have a winemaker in the family, after all!
I will reveal the recipe calls for local cider and cinnamon, cloves and mace. Herb's Porter's Cider Wine is surprisingly clear but subtly flavored with the spice, and the quality of the apple cider is a key to the quality of the flavor. Over the years, Herb has learned to taste the cider as it develops over the season (from Porter's Orchard in Goodrich, Michigan) (because the apple varieties change from week to week) and judge when it has reached the perfect tree-ripened apple-y flavor, late in the season.

Anyway, last month Herb was reading The Michigan Beer Guide (it encompasses all craft brewing and we began reading it after our son re-introduced Herb to craft beer brewing which is very popular among some serious young men) and he mentioned a competition.
Lightbulbs appeared over our heads, why not enter a bottle of his spiced apple cider wine? The rest is history...
Herb is listed as a Silver medal winner in the non-commercial division under Other Specialty Cider/Perry. The weather was threatening to make the drive to Grand Rapids difficult, so we stayed home the day of the competition, but next year you may see us there, tasting, enjoying the event, and learning more.
I've posted a few photos of Herb bottling his wine last winter... one bottle left! It's time to make another batch, and Porter's cider tastes great right NOW!

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