Ginger beer is a super market commodity, but how about ginger wine? While it may not grace the shelves of the local market, ginger wine has been around since at least 1740 when the London based Finsbury Distillery Company brought it to notice. The wine was made from a fermented blend of ground ginger root and raisins, often fortified with brandy, and consumed on the rocks, neat, with scotch, or mixed with a variety of non alcoholic beverages. My paternal grandmother, Helen S. Wright, included a recipe for ginger wine alongside a recipe for ginger beer in her book, Old Time Recipes for Home Made Wines.
Here is the recipe in the words of my grandmother:
Take four gallons of water, ten pounds of loaf sugar, one and one-quarter pounds of bruised ginger, one ounce of hops, the shaved rinds of five lemons or Servile oranges. Let these boil together for two hours, carefully skimming. Pour it, without straining, on to two pounds of raisins, When cool, put in the juice of the lemons or oranges; rinse the pulp in a pint or two of the wine, and strain it to the rest. Ferment it with yeast; mix one-half cup of solid yeast with a pint or two of the wine, and with that work that work the rest. Next day turn it, raisins, hops, ginger, and all together, and fill it up for a fortnight either with wine or with good new beer; then dissolve one ounce of isinglass in a little of the wine, and return it to the rest to fine it. A few days afterward bung it close. This wine will be in full perfection in six months. It may be bottled, but is apt to fly; and if made exactly by the above directions, and drawn from the cask, it will sparkle like champagne.
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