I dread the things left in our home after a party. Cheese plates are often separated into baggies left to metamorphose into another phase of refrigerated spoiled milkdom, while crackers placed in the pantry to grow stale or become desperate sustenance when we’re too lazy to go grocery shopping. We have a refrigerator shelf where uninspired bulk beer sit next to the obscure micro beers mimicking the seating arrangements between our joe-lunchbox and bobo friends.
A rather subversive product crossed our threshold and it’s struck a discordant tone. We are now in possession of a local(ish) product, a bottle of cranberry “wine”, hailing from a town known for its olde thyme charm rather than its winemaking. Snuff, who is a staunch red wine drinker and who once in nostalgic appreciation gazed upon a bottle of “Uncle Ernie’s, hillbilly strawberry wine” in our farmhouse, will not give it a chance. I however set my reservations aside and took a willing flute of it last night.
The cranberry wine has a beautiful jewel-toned which is a contrast to its tartness. Like all fruit wines, sugar is added for the fermentation processes but because of the cranberry’s lack of natural sugar the vintner is forced to over-compensate. The end result is a slightly boozy cranberry cocktail at twice the price. Though I wouldn’t be caught dead bringing this to a party, I can see its place in the world. In somewhat forced camp appreciation I can hear guests saying “wow, this is a step up from Boone’s Farm”.
My affections for cranberry wine lay further than the low-brow irony. I see the bottle in my refrigerator a part of our local economy and dare say it’s artisanal. Fruit wines get a bad rap because there are major producers out there who make alcohol out of the byproducts of cheese making [ pdf doc link ] or fruit flavored malt liquor. There is a tradition of fruit wines in the old country, but it’s grown out of fashion because it’s not marketable. So long as there are Germans making fun of German Hillbillen drinking Landwein, French Hommebillies drinking Vin du Pays, and Snuff poking fun at “Uncle Ernie’s (God rest him) Hillbilly wine” there will be no respect for cranberry wine.