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Making wine the old fashioned way


This week was Beaujolais Nouveau week – the circulation of red wine that takes place at precisely 12.01 on the third Thursday of November every year. Some people love the whole razzmatazz of this unashamedly commercial marketing event, others hate it. Whatever you think, it’s a big deal in a global way.

To celebrate, someone sent me a gorgeous photo of a massive barrel of grapes ready for crushing and making wine the old fashioned way – with your feet.

Looking at it made me want to rip my thick woolly winter socks off and dive in. Alas I do not have a big barrel. I did think about whether I could just put a bunch of grapes in a small bowl and wiggle my toes about in it but somehow I did not think it would have quite the same effect.

I am not sure what the Other Half (husband) might think if he came home and there I am standing in the middle of the room with one foot in my biggest plastic food box squashing a bunch of the local supermarket’s finest purple grapes.

“Have you gone yet more mad than usual” is likely to be his comment.

It made me wonder about the whole practice of crushing the grapes as it used to be done.

In the old days, people didn’t bathe like they do today. I read somewhere that in his whole life time even Louis XIV, the Sun King himself, only took three baths. Not only that, his toe fell off in his sock, apparently due to gangrene. Now, he had plenty of money and could afford for minions to heat the water and pour it into a tub. The peasants of course could not afford this and rarely, if ever even washed let alone get in a bath full of water.  They were riddled with fleas, covered in sores, smelled revolting and I absolutely shudder to think what sort of a state their feet might have been in. I know you’re thinking about it too now…

Apparently though, grape stomping would have been something that was carried out long before King Louis’ time. Cloth and wooden presses have been in use for many centuries so I think that even in ancient days no-one much liked the idea of smelly feet stomping grapes.

According to Louis Pasteur “Wine is the most healthful and most hygienic of beverages” but I’m not sure he was thinking of feet made wine!

What’s it all about: Beaujolais Nouveau

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