Muscadine martini

Finally, a use for muscadine wine.

Mind you, I’m a Cultured Southern Man so, by rights, I should be downing the stuff like Coca-Cola. Every time I attend a party with fancy hors d’oeuvres here in Jackson, I can be sure that chilled vintage from Old South Winery will also be on the menu. Honestly, though, I’ve never liked this particular grape. It’s both too sweet and too astringent; I always feel like I’m drinking liquid Jolly Ranchers. Dessert wines aren’t my favorites, anyway, but at least riesling is spicy and a little dry.

But Traveling Tom, who’s been staying with me for a week or two, seems to favor muscadine wine above all other alcoholic beverages. Sure, he’ll try a margarita, if we’re eating at a Tex-Mex restaurant, but he’s otherwise completely sober. He just doesn’t like the taste. Muscadine wine, however, doesn’t have the bitter, sharp, lingering taste that most alcohol has, and so he likes it. I’m of the opposite persuasion. I want my alcohol to taste like it, damnit, so I won’t get lulled into a false sense of security. A fruity drink—“It tastes just like juice!”; “I don’t notice the alcohol at all!”—gets me into trouble quickly; I’d rather be conscious of my intake. Besides, I’m just not big on desserts.

Last night, though, TT told me that he had just found a new apartment, and I felt like offering a small gift to him in celebration. So, a bottle of Old South Winery’s Sweet Magnolia was cooling in the fridge. I had a nice bottle of Russian vodka in the freezer but, alas, no vermouth. So, he could celebrate but I was stuck.

Now, I get my best ideas while washing dishes. Mid-scrub, I figured that a splash of Sweet Magnolia might work as well as dry vermouth. After setting the plates and silverware out to dry, I tried out the following: 3 ounces of Jewel of Russia vodka, a nip of muscadine wine, two or three drops of olive juice. Shake over ice, pour into chilled glass, add two olives, and sip. The wine’s sweetness undercuts the bracing effect of hardcore vodka, and adds a pleasant, mild fragrance that reminds me of musk and herb gardens. The olive juice keeps the concoction salty and adult. In retrospect, I might use less muscadine—a generous splash of it overpowers everything—but it’s terrific all the same.

Just so you know.

About Walter Biggins

Walter Biggins is a writer based in Atlanta, GA. He is the co-author (with Daniel Couch) of Bob Mould's Workbook (Bloomsbury, 2017). His work has been published in The Quarterly Conversation,, Bookslut (RIP), The Comics Journal, The Baseball Chronicle, and other periodicals. Twitter: @walter_biggins.
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3 Responses to Muscadine martini

  1. Elizabeth says:

    You are so sophisticated in your tastes! And I agree with you: if you don’t want to taste the alcohol, then go have a lemonade, for Pete’s sake.

  2. Ernesto says:

    For Mike’s sake, I think.

  3. Stina says:

    you know don’t malign the muscadine… I love me some muscadine jelly, one of my favorite things ever actually… but then again I have a sweet tooth near as big as my mouth so I don’t mind what you mind I suppose…
    and you may not be a dessert person, but if the sweet mood strikes… pour some of it on some ice cream… dessert wines and sweet liquours over ice cream can be really tasty, and you wouldn’t have to worry about the kick sneaking up on you unless you make a float or a shake out of it… LOL But I’ve been exploring a couple of years with variations on the theme, ever since this old lady gave me a “recipe” for a grasshopper parfait that was essentially such (the mostly perfectly me dish ever I don’t know how I never thought of it myself). Oddly enough, the lady’s from MS and not too far from you…
    Of course, that said I do usually prefer drier wines… marriage has opened me to the world of sweet wines a bit, but I’m still not so yielding.

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