Margaret Button | Kitchen Comfort: It's time for a little wine

My love affair with wine began at a young age. When I was a senior in high school, the drinking age in Vermont was 18, and since it was just a short hop, skip and a jump to Pownal or Stamford ...

My first bottle of wine was Spanada, a splendid (at least to an inexperienced 18-year-old's palate) red wine laced with fruity flavors. I also consumed quite a bit of Boone's Farm apple and strawberry wines. And, by the way, you can still buy them. I rounded an aisle in the Plymouth, N.H., Walmart a few years ago and there they were, right at eye level. My stomach churned and I quickly moved on.

Fast forward about 10 years. My husband and I were invited to a small gathering at a friend's house and I brought a bottle of whatever inexpensive wine I was into at the time. Unfortunately for me, everyone else at the party was a wine snob and the discussion was studded with years, varietals and nuances. I'm sure my wine had a year, although it was probably the same one we were in. They did a wine tasting — my wine wasn't included, after all it had a screw top — and dissected each wine. I sampled their wines and came to the conclusion they were drinking and buying it for the impression made; I was drinking mine because I liked the taste.

That became my mantra, if it tastes good and you like it, that's the wine for you. I have no qualms drinking wine out a box or one that sells for under $10. One of the best wines I ever had was my mother-in-law's homemade dandelion wine. I wish I knew whatever happened to her recipe.

This past week, while digging in my recipe box, I came across this vintage (no pun included!) recipe for Balloon Wine. I suggest using a glass gallon jug and putting the bottle in a cool, dark space. Is this a fine wine? Heck, no. Is it a lot of fun to make and serve on a hot summer day loaded with fruit and maybe topped off with 7-Up? Yup.

Balloon wine


2 12-ounce cans of frozen grape juice

4 cups sugar

1 package dry yeast

large mouth balloon


gallon jug


Mix grape juice with the sugar in two quarts lukewarm water. Dissolve dry yeast in a little warm water and add to the mixture. Pour into a gallon jug and fill the rest of the jug with water. Do not shake. Place the mouth of the balloon over the top of the jug; do not cap. Secure the balloon to the jug with a rubber band or some string. Put in a warm place out of drafts and let sit until balloon expands, about a day or two. When the balloon deflates, about 5 to 6 weeks, the wine is finished. Strain and let sit about a week, strain again and bottle. The longer the wine stays, the better it becomes.


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