Plonkfest

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I’m not much a of a planner. There are no to-do lists in my life. There are no schedules. There is no time management. There is only triage.

Anything that doesn’t absolutely, positively, have to happen today gets the put-off. The extent to which this is a problem is in direct proportion to the number of things that absolutely, positively, have to happen today. In the winter, when very little has to happen today, I’d go so far as to argue that triage is the best system going. In the spring, though, when each today has a significant set of demands, it can most definitely be a problem.

Today, the problem is Carlo Rossi Chablis.

I asked my friend Maggie to help because I knew she had the right hat

You see, it’s dandelion wine season. This is the third year we’ve made it, and the third year we’ve harvested our dandelions from one particular field at Mass Audubon’s Long Pasture Sanctuary. This is the third year we’ll be following Euell Gibbons’ recipe. This is the third year we’ll be needing two one-gallon glass jugs with screw tops.

The first year, we discovered that, while the jugs themselves are cheap, the shipping is expensive. Since Jugs R Us (Google that at your peril) doesn’t yet have an outlet on Cape Cod, we would have had to pay about $30. for four of them.

Alternatively, we could buy them for $12.99 each, full of Carlo Rossi Chablis. It wasn’t a hard decision. That first year, we made it just as we started the wine-making process. Because the dandelions first have to steep for three days, and then the wine needs to ferment for a week, we had ten days before we needed the jugs to be empty.

The science of oenology has come a long way in the last decade or two, and cheap wine isn’t nearly as bad as it used to be. This is something I’ve been grateful for, as our seven-bottle-a-week habit (minus beer nights) precludes the regular consumption of expensive wine. But never have I been as grateful as when Kevin and I were faced with the prospect of downing two gallons of Carlo Rossi Chablis in a week and a half.

You’d think we would have learned our lesson that first go-round. The dandelions come up at the same time every year. We always know we’ll need two one-gallon glass jugs in the middle of May. We could get one gallon in, say, January, and another two months later. We could plan to make wine-intensive stews and soups to use up some of it. We could even branch out and try Carlo Rossi Burgundy.

But no. Last year, and then again this year, the first week in May finds us buying two gallons of Carlo Rossi Chablis, and trying to convince ourselves it’s really not that bad.

And you know, it really isn’t. It’s characterless, sure, but inoffensive. You could do worse.

Still, if any of you get a dinner invitation from us this week, consider this fair warning. I’ll understand if you’re busy.

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Comments

  1. In my storied youth, we referred to that as the Righteous Rossi Jug of Justice. It was plonk back then, but we were young enough to be mightily amused by our own witticisms. Questions: if you know you need these jugs, is there some reason you didn’t hold on to the ones from last year? Or did you decide to double your production?

  2. Next year (if you forget to conserve this year’s jugs) save the bottles for decanting purposes from any wine you’ve splurged on. As for the triage thing, it’s definitely genetic.

  3. Kate — I wish I both had a storied youth and had, at some point, stopped being amused by my own witticisms. As for the jugs, the previous vintages are still occupying theirs. While the technical term, I believe, is “aging,” when we do it it’s more like a fantasy that, if it sits around for a while, it will turn into something delicious.

    Mom — Your triage gene must have trumped Dad’s planning gene. I wish your nose-shape gene had staged a similar triumph.

  4. Geez, if only I’d known you thirty years ago I could have saved you the myriad Almaden rose bottles from growing up with parents who had a couple of glasses of ‘pinky’ every night, only back then, rose wasn’t the nice dry stuff that it is now. But then, if you have eight kids and a penchant for wine, you don’t exactly drink stuff with corks in it. Come to think of it, maybe the wine was because of the eight kids. Hmmm. I never considered that before…

  5. I suppose you could throw an impromptu garden cheesy wine party, with crackers. That might help pass the wine around. Call it a fund raiser, and pass the hat to help a local food bank or community garden.

    If you had used sangria wine, my old Navy chief would have suggested adding a half bottle of brandy, a sliced orange, and call it ‘punch’.

    Or maybe you could distill the spirits out of the wine, for medicinal purposes.

    Luck!

  6. Madcat says:

    Or you could get some creme de cassis and make Kirs ….. very summery and they make a so so medium to dry white into something more special.

    (and that will have you growing blackcurrents to make your own cassis! Which uses brandy as a base and so we go on……… and on ….. and on.)

  7. Kim Graves says:

    “Our seven-bottle-a-week habit”: Tamar, you guys are people after our own heart!

    Found the Gibbons recipe and am going out to collect dandelions right now. Thanks. Do you think I need a carboy kit, etc? Or can I just make it as instructed?

  8. Paula – Corks are overrated. And I think people should just drink what they like.

    Brad – To my mind, if you take sangria wine, add brandy and citrus, it IS punch.

    Madcat – Don’t have creme de cassis, but we do have Chambord. Kirs tonight!

    Kim – Carboy kit? You don’t need no stinking carboy kit. You need a pot, a jug, and a balloon. Come fermentation time, instead of the fancy air trap, you just put the balloon over the mouth of the jug. I love that you’re trying this – keep me posted.

  9. Do the bottles have to be a full gallon each, or couldn’t you use 4 growler bottles? Much more fun to drink beforehand…

  10. I was at your house yesterday for how long? Didn’t ply with with any Chablis did ya? Showed it to me..You really Gotta make better use of your resources…even the boys might have helped! Jacob declared this morning over breakfast that he enjoyed the aged dandelion wine sample better (grin)..followed by and loud insistent shush from me…

    I am pretty sure our bottle prices are less than 12.99 and the hangover you’re sure to get with all that “fine” wine..and I can even deliver them…..but to be perfectly honest ..I think you like the challenge! And we LOVE that about you both!

  11. Damn! Bad timing. I have a recipe for dandelion wine I’ve been making, on and off, for 15 years in my book. But the damn thing doesn’t come out until May 24. If you will still have dandelion flowers around then, check it out. If not, email me and I will give you the recipe. It makes a spectacular wine.

  12. Talking of recipes (wel HankShaw was) I have agreat recipe for Chorizo in wine that is great for far-too-cheap-to-drink wine, or for that half bottle that (if you are at all like me) you leave on the kitchen counter to drink the next day and remember only when it is on its way to vinegar but not quite there. (I’d hate to think I was a bore in my comments, so let me know if interested).
    Javier

    • Javier – A bore? I love when you visit. And I know I’ve said it before, but your blog is yet another reason I’m very sorry to not speak Spanish. Now cough up that recipe!

  13. It is one of these recipes that you probably shouldn’t explain as it sound soooo stupidly simple, but that, I think, is part of the thing.
    First, start with a chorizo that you can cook, (growing up in Spain it is easy to identify, signs include that the chorizo is softish to the touch and not hard, and it is not too thick, less than 2cm. Also, anything presliced is not to be cooked for this). Cut it in nice chunks, put in a pan (it looks nicest in a little clay one but anything will do), almost cover with red wine and let it boil gently till it looks and smells like you can’t wait to try it, turning over half way. (If you must have a time I’d say minimun about 10min). I’ve done this with really cheap and really old red wine and also with some cider, both gave great results. Serve with lots of bread.
    If you want a photo, there are a couple here:
    http://lastresrs.blogspot.com/2011/02/chorizo-al-vino.html
    Enjoy!