As you read this, I’m ensconced in a tent somewhere in Yellowwood State Forest. To answer your unspoken question: yes, it’s cold. So cold, in fact, I prepared this week’s Historic Indianapolis recipe with this camping trip in mind. I knew we’d need something to keep us warm and toasty around the fire, and something with a simple preparation. But first, let’s dive into something not so simple.

Homemade Red Wine Recipe: 

Use dark grapes; prepare as for jelly. Put 2 quarts pure grape juice and 2 quarts sugar in a glass gallon jug and fill with water. Bore a hole in the cork and insert a rubber tube. The tube should not protrude below the bottom of the cork. Place the cork on the jug and seal so that no air can enter the inside of the jug, and place the other end of the tube in a jar of water. When it starts working, the air goes through the tube and into the water. When it stops working completely, siphon the wine into the bottles and seal. This makes a sweet, smooth wine, rich in color and flavor.

Recipe Source: The Hoosier Cookbook, recipe contributed by Mrs. George Conrad, Sr.

I’ll answer the obvious question first. Why are we bothering to make our own wine? You may be interested to know that until 1971 it was illegal to make and sell wine in Indiana. Almost all wine — unless purchased out of state — was made at home or acquired from a local basement vintner. The woods aren’t exactly the best host to a homemade wine making operation, so, for the sake of locale let’s proceed to the modern variation.

Take a break to listen to the most perfect camping song, “Westfall,” by Okkervil River.

Modern Variation: 

If you’re not quite as bold as to take on this homemade wine recipe, I recommend purchasing a bottle of dry red from Indianapolis’ oldest winery, Easley. Established in 1974 in the Cole Noble restaurant, this site for this winery has previously been: a creamery that supplied ice cream to Dairy Queens and Burgers Kings and Governor Noah Noble’s home farm. Easley has compiled the history of the land — in particular, the legal wrangling of Noble’s land after his death, which was such a fight that the State Legislature had to get involved — available here.  It’s quite a read.

And that’s not the last law that resulted from a love of that plot of land in Downtown Indy. Easley’s founders, Jack and Joan, were instrumental in changing the state’s wine-selling laws. Jack was a lawyer, and helped incorporate their group, the Indiana Wine Growers Guild, with the Secretary of State, and eventually helped achieve the 1971 law change that allows wineries to exist in the state. Let’s celebrate with a toast!

Mulled Wine Recipe: 

1 orange stuck with cloves
2 sliced oranges
2 sliced lemons
6 level tablespoons sugar or honey
1 cinnamon stick
2 teaspoons ground gringer
2 teaspoons fruit liquer (Cointreau, Grand Marnier, cherry brandy)
2 750 ml bottles of full-bodied red wine

Put all the ingredients in a saucepan with 2½ pints of water then heat to simmering point, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved. Keep it barely at simmering point for at least 20 minutes – but do not boil or all the alcohol will evaporate.!

Source: Delia’s Christmas

Field Trip

You won’t see process photos this week because, well, I’m making this deep in the woods, completely Wi-Fi-less. Enjoy your wine — and browse a list of state parks and forests in Indiana here if you’re interested in your own late fall camping trip. Don’t forget the mulled wine