Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. Matthew 9:17
To the right of my computer stands a long-necked bottle with large, white, letters on a dark blue background. They read . . . EVERCLEAR GRAIN ALCOHOL.
Smaller letters and numbers read . . . 95% Alc. By Vol. (190 proof)
Inside the EVERCLEAR bottle is a deep red, cloudy, and unclear liquid called homemade Portuguese wine.
Where did it come from? You might ask.
About a week ago Sandy and I offered to help our neighbor collect the plump juicy grapes from his meticulously cared for arbors. Al has had two strokes that have left him without enough balance to do that kind of work.
Carefully reaching above our heads we gently plucked the purple clusters from among the leafy green vines. Next we culled out withered or blemished grapes (and not a few arachnids and other insects), and added the hand selected ones to a big, blue, 50 gallon, plastic drum, that already contained equal amounts of their distant relatives -- imported from the vineyards of California
Al -- who speaks a mixture of Portuguese and heavily accented English -- explained why he then crushed the grapes. He was getting them ready to cook. For us non-wine producers, cook would mean ferment -- heat is never used.
Since then, we have enjoyed regular visits to Al's wine shack, and listened to him explain the slow process that would turn the watery, purple mixture into wine.
So . . .
Today, before we left Al's moonshine shed, he told us he had something special for us, and pointed to the EVERCLEAR GRAIN ALCOHOL bottle, now the residence of Al's home brew.
This is for you. It will become clear in a few weeks. He said. Then you can drink it. I will give you more!
Both of us thanked him for his kindness and generosity. I picked up the old skin with the new wine, and turned to leave. As I did I noticed that the cap on the bottle was loose, so I began to tighten it.
Don't do that! Said Al, in excited Portu-genglish. It's not done -- It will blow up! Tighten it little by little over the next week. It will be ready by Thanksgiving.
Now I have a bottle in front of me. No, it is not 190 proof. But I believe after a few chug-a-lugs I would feel like I had a frontal lobotomy!