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.