Articles written by Darryl McCullough (unless otherwise noted)

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Ancient Art

The Tropical Fruit Society of Sarasota meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month, and in October this falls during Eat Local Week. So naturally, we (wearing now my other hat as TFSS Treasurer) have made it an Eat Local Week event and tried to put together an October program that would pique the interest of one-time attendees. This year we hit a home run.

The presenters were longtime TFSS members Nick Ostrye and TFSS Vice President Dr. Tony Hemmer. Each has cultivated the ancient art of winemaking, using tropical fruit instead of those non-local wine grapes.

Tony is a Manatee County resident (that's only turnabout since many MRFC members, including yours truly, grow our fruit down here in Sarasota). He takes a scientific approach to winemaking, and presented the technical basics in a concise powerpoint presentation.

A table displayed an impressive collection of home winemaking gear.

Tony then turned the mic over to Nick, who is more of a traditional "intuitive" winemaker. Like Tony, he's not afraid to try making wine out of almost anything that is sweet and grows on a plant.

Nick emceed the wine tasting. He had procured clear plastic egg cartons and a boatload of little plastic cups that fit perfectly into the compartments.

With their better halves and other volunteers, the speakers had filled the cups with half-ounce servings of ten homemade wines, plus crackers and cheese cubes. A printed insert told what each cup contained.

The duo described each wine in turn, describing the ingredients, sugar content, and special idiosyncrasies of each batch. We sipped exotic flavors like mulberry-jaboticaba, with many tints and levels of sweetness.

Ten rounds later we were all impressed with the variety and quality of the home brews. Ten half-ounces only add up to one glass of wine, but the crowd left in an especially cheery mood. I've stashed the leftover cartons and cups for a repeat performance down the road.

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