Drink of the Week: Spike Your Juice (Federweisser)

Spike Your JuiceToday we have something a bit different that feels kind of homey and appropriate for Thanksgiving weekend, even if it’s got a European pedigree. Home fermented grape juice, apparently known in Germany as Federweisser, isn’t exactly a cocktail, but then it’s U.S. cousin, Spike Your Juice, doesn’t exactly produce wine. The good news is that what it does produce is a tastier and much more fun alternative to a wine cooler or some ghastly “malt beverage.”

What I got in the mail from the Spike Your Juice people was a glass sealer that fits inside a plastic stopper and a number of thin tubey-envelopes which, in turn, contain primarily yeast, the friendly microorganism that turns fattening fructose into equally fattening, but somewhat more dangerously interesting, alcohol. All you do is empty the powdery contents of the tubes into a 64 ounce juice container — they suggest grape juice or other purplish/reddish beverages mentioned in a link at their faq. You don’t shake it or do anything else to it at all.

You then attach the aforementioned glass tubes (to which you have added some water) and plastic thingy to the top of the container, being careful to permanently discard the original bottle cap. That’s important because, apparently, from this point on, anything remotely airtight can result in a messy explosion that could leave you standing in the purple rain.

Next, you leave the unrefrigerated bottle alone for 48 hours; you’ll see a bit of foaming and an occasional bubble in the water in the glass tubing. When the time has passed, you are supposed to sample the result and, if it’s too sweet for you, reattach the apparatus. Once you’re happy with what what you’ve got, you then leave only the plastic portion in place, which means your drink is partially exposed and won’t be holding onto it’s fizz for long.

At the 48 hour point, what I had was a rather delightful but very sweet fizzy beverage that isn’t at all like the bad sparkling wine you might expect, but is like a really very nice slightly alcoholic lightly carbonated grape juice. Still, it was very sweet and packed little punch so I let the fermentation continue. Although I like the drier version just fine over ice, I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I wish I had stopped at maybe 55 or 60 hours, rather than 72. That’s my old sweet tooth again.

It’s not one of the suggested juices and I’m curious why, but, I’m going to try this with apple juice. I love hard apple cider, the original Euro-American booze beloved of our pilgrim predecessors…and I guess that covers the need for a Thanksgiving weekend reference to wrap this post up.


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