Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Homemade surprises

Before I start forgetting the exact tasting details, I need to talk about an eau-de-vie that my uncle poured for me in Shanghai. It was a homemade, distilled liquor, that our relatives from Ningbo made. Completely brewed from sweet rice, it was clear and clean.

The nose was incredible. So fragrant, so sweet. Completely blew me away - the purity of it was amazing. On the palate, it was so clean and smooth. Really, there wasn't a hard edge at all. Nice spiciness on the finish, although not remarkably long. But my goodness, the smoothness was just incredible. Consistency like thick cream in the mouth, but a very cleansing and pleasingly light finish.

Just a few days ago, remembered that there were jars of wine in our fridge. Jars of homemade mulberry wine, also produced by the same relatives. We brought them over a few years ago, when going through customs was still only slightly nervewracking. These relatives picked very ripe mulberrys from their own vineyards, and placed them in a fiery 60% alcohol Chinese liquor. The trick with these is that over time, the alcohol is absorbed into the fruit, and the alcohol in the liquid isn't all that strong. People use this drink for medicinal purposes, but it is so delicious.

Light pink in colour, but with a syrupy consistency. On the nose, it has this beautiful floral aroma, with lots of sweet berries and just a bit of spiciness from the liquor. On the palate, it is overwhelmingly like bitter dark chocolate and candied fruits. Incredible. Not a very complex wine, but has a long long finish, incredibly silky in the mouth. Eating the fruit is quite a different experience. The mulberries retain their natural sweetness and acidity, but the alcohol adds such a strong kick to it. If you're not careful, 5 of them will knock you out.

Unfortunately, with the problem of finding good fruit, we probably won't ever be able to find this kind of wine. The quality is stunning. I suppose there's no point in just leaving it in the back of the fridge. Might as well enjoy it while it's still alive and fresh. What an incredible experience, for both these wines. The mulberry wine is to some degree, a more simple process, but the eau-de-vie was such a wonderful surprise. Such clarity!

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