This Sunday we finally found time to bottle last autumn’s pomegranate wine, which has developed into a “fortified” variety. Perhaps we should have lightened up on the raisins in the recipe as although all the sugar has converted into alcohol, so it’s beautifully dry, there’s no doubt it packs more of a punch than this year’s grape tipple. However, the thirty bottles will keep us going for a while and there’s something deeply satisfying about seeing the wine rack fill up while knowing that this batch has started off drinkable and we’re not just praying that it will miraculously change before we pull out the cork.
We planted the pomegranate tree about eight years ago and it gives more fruit than we really need so we are no longer having to steal from the neighbour’s laden boughs which hang close to our wall. To be honest the neighbour’s garden is a source of deep frustration: it’s a total mess, nothing is ever done to it, yet the trees hang heavy with fruit year after year surrounded by waist-deep weeds while said neighbour persists in shouting at me for putting down slug pellets which, he claims, deprives him of nourishing meals of “caracol”. His patch serves to remind me that there’s definitely something to be said for allowing nature to take its course and not “over-caring” for trees.
In fact, if it wasn’t for “over-caring” for trees we wouldn’t have the pomegranate at all. When we first lurched onto the property ladder we could either afford somewhere habitable or somewhere derelict but with land. Although we couldn’t see how much land we were buying, as the eight terraces had been untouched for 15 years and the final four had no steps between them, the plans told of 1000m2. We eventually unearthed numerous vines and a host of orange trees. When my mother visited from England she was adamant all the plants would need oceans of water on a daily basis to cope with the Mediterranean sun. This killed off all but two of the trees which enabled me to start planting different fruit trees in their place. My general rule of thumb is, if I don’t eat it I won’t plant it, but in the case of the pomegranate it was bought almost exclusively for the beauty of its bright orange flowers and only later did I wonder what to do with bucketfuls of fruit that require incredible patience to eat. Wine making has solved the problem, the kids can still pick as many as they like to eat while the residue are not wasted.
There are many recipes for pomegranate wine and we have endured some spectacular failures – especially with those that use barley and which all the experts say are wonderful. When the fruit is ready for picking I will post the recipe we find works best, but in the meantime there’s masses of other things to do in the garden to ensure you can always make a meal from it throughout the year.