Sunday, November 23, 2008

Grape Wine/Munthiri Wine…A sweet intoxicating X’mas tradition from Kerala!

Till that day the word ‘wine’, to me , was associated with my mother’s ceremonial soaking of some fruits in a brown colored earthenware, Bharani and the occasional stirring and the day my father helped her to strain the fermented juice into glass bottles using a funnel…….until that day , it was that fancy bottle my father’s friends gifted us during the Christmas season……until that day, it was that intoxicating sweetened drink that was served in a tiny stemware, at the Christian wedding receptions immediately after the toast, along with a square piece of fruit cake wrapped in parchment paper and sealed in the centre………

…..but that day, sometime in the first few months of my stay in this country, our friend poured wine into my glass…… the moment I sipped , I knew I was experiencing a phenomenon called ‘taste-shock’…….it was red wine but it was nothing like the one etched in my memories……contrary to the sweet red wine my mother made , this one tasted different….I was not sure if it was bitter or some other taste…….it was sharp and strange……I tried to take one more sip but couldn’t …….it was not just the wine that tasted different…..the wine glass also looked strange in size ….till that day I was used to drinking wine in what can be called a miniature version of the stemware we find in America………the one in which we served wine was tinier than a tequila shot glass….and that’s the day I realized the world of wine and the taste of wine, outside my small state in the southern tip of India, has a whole new spectrum I was not familiar with……..and later, after two years, on a wine tasting tour in California I discovered a variety called dessert wine which came close to the taste of my childhood and adolescence and slowly I started enjoying wine in this country :)

Nevertheless, a craving for the sweet wine my parents made dominates me towards the end of every year. When it is time to think about X’mas and when it is time to relish fruit cake I miss the taste and smell of the of the wines my parents made each year with grapes, pineapple, cashew apples and beetroot. As part of starting our own X’mas traditions, year before last, me and CJJ set two batches of wine; one with Beetroot and another with Pineapple and this year, we tried with grapes and since it has turned out so well, I thought of sharing the recipe with you.

Recipe Source: Molly Joseph, Bangalore; published in Kerala Magazine, Vanitha, November 2007 issue. Original recipe has been halved to suit my needs.

  • ½ kg dark blue or purple or black, seedless grapes (I used California grapes)
  • 5 ½ (1 kg) cups sugar
  • Half of one egg white, beaten
  • 1tsp Yeast ( I use Fleischmann's active dry yeast)
  • ¾ cup (125 gm) wheat kernels/Godhambu
  • 19 cups water (2.25 litres), boiled and cooled completely
  • Get an earthenware, Bharani or big glass/ ceramic jar /container thoroughly washed.
  • Separate grapes from its stalks and wash nicely. With your hand, crush the grapes thoroughly till it starts releasing juice. Add all the other ingredients along with crushed grapes to the Bharani or big glass/ ceramic jar /container and close with the lid. You may place a large piece of cloth on top of the lid and tie it airtight.
  • For the next 20 days, open the Bharani or big glass/ceramic jar /container everyday and stir well with a wooden spoon. The crushed grapes will remain floating on top for the first two weeks and by the end of third week, you will notice them setting to the bottom of the jar and settling on top of the wheat kernels.
  • On the 21st day, strain the grape mixture using a muslin/cheese cloth or any thin cotton fabric; transfer the liquid to another Bharani or big glass or ceramic jar /container .
  • After 2 days, you will notice sediments at the bottom of the jar; strain this again, using a muslin/cheese cloth or any thin cotton fabric and pour it into clean glass bottles. As the days go by you might notice some sediments at the bottom of the bottle too; so while pouring be careful not to disturb the clouded sediments settled at the bottom.
  • In Kerala these wines are served along with a slice of fruit cake during the X’mas season but you can serve this as apéritif too. If taken in small amounts, it is also good for digestion after a festive meal.
Don’t have colour? If the wine does not have color (it depends on the type of grape you use) , add little caramel , until you get the desired depth of colour , without making the wine overly sweet. This is a technique generally followed in Kerala homes to colour the wine if it lacks that dark red shade. But I haven’t tried this technique and hence not sure how much of caramel is required and whether it changes the taste of wine or not. I used a variety called, California grapes which has produced this gorgeous colour. Please keep in mind that it is the skin of the grapes that decides the colour of the wine. I have given recipe and directions for making caramel in my last year’s post on Kerala Fruit Cake /Plum Cake; you may refer the same.

I know many of you are busy with the last minute menu planning for the Thanksgiving dinner and it is too early to even think of X’mas but certain preparations like setting the wine and soaking fruits for the plum cake has to be done way in advance. So, those who have not yet soaked the fruits for fruit cake, please do it atleast this week. Last year, I had received lot of queries asking for the availability of tutti-frutti in US and I thought of making a small note here that it has started appearing in the baking aisles of the supermarkets and shops like, Walmart has set up an aisle specially for baking goods for the holiday season. Look for a brand called, SUN-RIPE fruit mix which is mix of candied orange and lemon peels, cherries et al. Those who are looking for the Kerala fruit cake recipe, please go through the recipe I have posted, in detail as well as the updates and the answers I have given in the comment section of the same post as I find it difficult to answer the same question again and again, which I have cleared for the previous readers. Still, if you have queries, please feel free to drop a line in the comment section, I am more than happy to help you :)

Related Posts:

Beetroot Wine - Sweet wine Fruit Cake Pineapple wine


No part of the content ( articles, photographs, recipes) of this blog may be reproduced without my written permission.Copyright © 2007-2010 All rights reserved.


  1. Hi Shn,

    Had been wanting to try this for a longggg time. Didnt search for any recipes coz I was sure I wont be able to judge if they will turn out to have the taste of the wine that I tasted in Kerala (was there for a couple of years). Now, seeing it in Mishmash! is sufficient to give a try. :) Thanks for the recipe.

    Had tried your egg briyani recipe a while back, tasted so goood.

    Love your passion for cooking, n your pics..n ur presentation...n ur paintings..n ur gardening (basil n mint n marigold(?))...n ur cookware(?)/ cutlery collection..n ur love for perfection (as I see it in the blog :)). hehe

    Merry Christmas in advance. :)

    Have a lovely holiday season.


  2. Oh!It's christmas again...& here that festival mood is yet to come...anyways,that wine looks divine & I really wish to have a sip...,hmm...u re an expert in a variety of wines,njanoru madichi....aake grapewine mathrame undakku....

  3. What a lovely post, took me down the memory lane of having sipped the same one frm a close frnds mom..true it tastes different! Her mom did share the recipe vocally wt was same minus egg! U r geared for Christmas! Wow! (Any wine left over or ...:D)

  4. My mom used to make home made wine for christmas too and they were sweet and also string etc....... same like you it was a shock when i expirenced my first glass of wine here.
    But now i have found that the wine my mom made at home is a bit like the port wine ( i am not comparing it fully) which is sweet.
    You brought back the memory of getting the wine in a small tiny glass for christmas and weddings.

  5. That's a beautiful shade of red. Btw, is wheat kernel whole godambu???

  6. hey dear..
    your wine looks quite elegant!! I am from north our home mom used to make gooseberry wine using jaggery...its sweet and tangy aftertaste came to my taste buds while reading your post..
    thanks for sharing the method..seasons greetings to you!

  7. Hey nice post... but i thought u were a Hindu..!!!

  8. Hi Mish

    Lovely presentation dear ..
    Even i had the same experience ..Used to get wine from our family friend in the time of x-mas and that was sweet and can drink like juice..But when i tasted the wine we bought frm duty paid shop i was shocked :)

    Oru glass wine kudikkumbol eeekum njan vadi akum ;) ..Pinne achanum monum koodiya enne side akkunne ....Still i love to taste grape wine ..
    Last month i gt an opportunity to taste ginger wine ..It was too good

    ..Thanks for sharing this wonderul recipe Mish :)

  9. This is my specialty. I make it in Jan so it is ready by Xmas! :)

  10. Looks Yummy!

    Can I make it with out the egg white? Thanks

  11. Hey Mishmash,

    Have been a regular visitor to your blog and love it. The pictures, the narration behind most of the receipes brings back my old memories too and have tried quite a few receipes the favourite being the mutton roast/curry which you had posted quite recently.
    Keep up the good work and gearing up to try a hand on the wine receipe.

    Happy Thanksgiving!


  12. I came across your blog lately and tried out the chicken roast, egg biryani and fish curry -kuttanadan style. They came out "real good".Your measures are perfect and the write up is interesting.I would like try out more.Thanks for sharing them .
    Your take on wine tastes in US hit home. I am not a wine person ...but liked dessert wines.My dad used to make grape wine at home.I will try making one of your wines soon. Thanks for the reminder on the fruit cake.I hope, I find all the ingredients in our local store.

  13. wat about the egg white ....we would be drinking wine with raw egg in it???????
    really loved ur blog.i hav set beetroot wine for this christmas , and hav tried many of ur recipes ...all hav been great hits .thank u soooo much.

  14. oru kuppikku ethrayaa..? ;-D

    I have been having trying different kinds of wine off late..Infact as you mentioned the wine is quite different from home made wine back home..Actually over time I have begun to enjoy the wine here.

    If dessert wine is too sweet you could try leiblich wine...thats mild sweet.

    Am sure this christmas I ll be able to enjoy munthiri and pineapple wine at my aunt's place..i sincerely believe they make the best in kotttayam district!!;-D

  15. Woderful site !! Love all your recipes and I am sure the kerala wine will b a superhit too. I can completely relate to ur wine shock as I have been in the same boat :)

    Speaking of Thanksgiving preparations....what is on your menu ? :) Do share and keep up wht wonderful work

  16. i too prefer dessert wines. the purists may scoff, but who cares. i like beaujolais which is a spanish dessert wine and asti, the white italian one.

  17. Shn,

    This christmas I'm palnning to make fruit cake and with your detailed explanions its a piece of "cake"


  18. Rsh, Oh myy!! that was too much of appreciation...i dont deserve all that ! :) Thanks a lot for showing confidence in the recipe...and appreciate your feedback too. Happy Holidays to you too!

    Liz,thanks dear :) madichi-kalkklu pattiyathanu wine making...athu kondalle njan ethokke onnum vendallo..... :D easier than baking a cake ;) the whole process of turning a fruit into a fermented alcohol gives me a kick all the time...

    Purnima, oh yes's all bottled up...i made it early as i can gift our friends as well as share it with our guests too :) Thank you!

    Happy Cook, I havent tasted port wine yet.....heard its mother was saying a reception they attended last weekend served wine and cake....kettappo kothiyayee :)

    Jayashree, yes i loved the colour too...! it is godhambu.

    Dhanya, gooseberry wine hmm...can imagine how good that wd be! but i have never tasted a wine with jaggery...i guess for ginger wine also jaggery is added...but i am not sure!

    Premna, I'm a human being.

    Veena, enikkum capacity kuravaa.....the first day i had that much of wine , shown in the pic, and i was lying flat in the's quite strong...especially if u drink it on an empty tummy....:D hmm...i heard about ginger wine from MIL last time when we went home...should check with her...Thanks !

    Silverine, wow .you set it for almost one year? that must be really keep it in bharani itself for that long or after bottling? you should send me one bottle :P

    Anon, yeah, you can omit egg white.

    Reena, thank you very much for such a warm note....happy to know that you re enjoying this blog and recipes....let me know how the wine turned out for ya. Season's greetings to you too :)

    Km, that great to know that you tried so many recipe and I dint let you down :) Thanks a lot for your comments . Would love to know your feedback on wine and fruit cake too :) Thanks again!

    Jincy, you can omit egg white if you dont want to add it. and thanks a lot for dropping by:)

    Mathew, LOL...njan gift aayittu tharallo :) Thanks for the suggestion...will check if that is available here..and i cannot imagine all the fun you re going to have for the X'mas....i envy you! btw, when u send us the beef fry from chinnus, keep a bottle of ur aunt's wine too :P

    Dhanya, thank you :) My TG menu....lie on the couch, snuggle under a comforter and watch lotssss of mal and eng movies, sipping hot chocolate :D Not a turkey person if I am not lazy, something with chicken....very simple...nothing fancy :)

    Bee, oh...let them scoff....i believe one should drink a wine that suits his/her tastebuds....thanks for that tip on Spanish wine...will check for that...Asti , I have tasted i guess...

    Ras, athu kettathil santhosham :)

    Sam, you re scaring me with your confidence in that recipe :D all the best and do let me know how it turned out!


  19. I make variety of of my specialty.....even I have some left over wines that I made couple of years back....those are really strong!!! yours look very good....

  20. hey..

    I did my first party meal [for 7 people..;)] on sunday..and I used only ur recipes...checken biriyani,mutton curry,prawns fry...
    wanted to send ya the snaps...but cudnt find ur mail id..
    just wanted to let ya was really great and everyone liked it..thanx to ya

  21. Lovely color & pics are amazing. Oru kuppi ingottu ayachu tharumo ;)

    Kazhinja xmas-inu fruit cake recipe search cheythaanu mishmashine kandu pidichae. Has been enjoying reading all your writeups since then!!!

  22. wine and the good old plum!! what a combination!!
    pics looks cool..

  23. yeah, the wine back home was different! There was a reason why it was served in the tiniest glassess I guess. We have gotten really drunk on it before we even knew what being drunk meant :) BTW I love the presentation!

  24. The pics are really superb, Shn! And you are back making those wines!! I have to go back to your recipe, but is there an alternative to using alcohol to soak fruits for plum cake?

  25. Oh gosh, my darling friend is now a wine maker! :)

    I too prefer dessert wines :)

    I can't stop smiling, madam wine maker :D

  26. i didn't know i could make my won wine!! :) will definitely try this!

  27. Swapna, wow..that must be too strong....why dont you share one of your recipes for us ? :)

    Ursjina, wow...7 people??? My goodness, it took me almost an year to gain some confidence to cook for so many people and when I cooked i cooked the same dish in two batches as I was used to cooking small quantities for us :D I am really happy for you...thanks a lot for the feedback too....feel so good to read that again n again :) Mail id is there at the end of the copyright notice on the left side..would love to see those pics

    Surya, tharaallo :) thanks a lot :)

    Divz, thanks so much :)

    Sig, u re so right about the quantity ..thats the same thing CJJ told me when he saw me getting drunk ...:) Thank you :)

    Jyothsna, I have seen recipes using orange juice in place of rum...but havent tried or tasted that....

    Cynthia, yeah me a wine maker and u' re now an author of a book....:)Hugs :)

    Raj, do let me know how it turned out :)

    Surya, I dont know where your comment record shows the comment has been published but i cant find it here..anyway answer to your Q, orange juice is used in place of rum in some recipes i have seen on the net...i havent tried that dont know how the taste wd be.....give it a try


  28. Hi Mish,
    good to see the wine recipe..i am all set to try it..but one doubt...can i use a plastic jar for putting wine rather than glass or ceramic...if i put in plastic, any problem?

  29. Anon, honestly i have no home my parents used bharani and here i use a glass container...i dont know if plastic causes some reaction...u need to confirm that before setting the wine...if u re in US, walmart has big glass containers in their kitchen section....when i bought it was less than 10 bucks....

  30. Hi Shn,

    Can I add wheat flour instead of Wheat Kernels..? Will that work..?


  31., pls dont add wheat flour...wheat kernels are added mainly to get teh wine more may omit it but the colour wont be exactly the same....

  32. Hi Shn,

    I should add Modesty too to the list. ;-). :P.

    The wine turned out great. Thanks again for the recipe.

    Take care. Happy New Year!


  33. Hi Mish,

    My Mom makes the exact same wine receipe and definetly felt nostaligic after going through your blog.

    Do you know where I can get the Bharani to make wine here?


  34. Hi Mish,

    Going through the wine receipe really made me nostalgic. My Mom also makes the same wine.

    Do you know where we can get Bharani here in CA?


  35. Hi Shn,
    i am making grapes wine nw..Its been 10 days nw since fermenting...the colur is very lite..pinkish...U hve said can add caramel to get darker u pls mention when to add it..also made one blunder..bought seeded it goin to make any diff..and one more mistake...i hadnt lookd for the quantity of water to b thot big glass jar wud b sufficient..but sadly it wasnt...hence had to split them in 2 bottles.dnt kno hows its goin to turn out :((

  36. Hi Shn...First of all thanks alot for the receipe...Now my queries..
    Its 10 days since my grapes wine is fermenting..i cn c the colour is vry lite...pinkish...can u pls mention when to add the i add nw?Also made the blunder of using seeded it goin 2 make any diff..and one more bluder..boy..i commit too many..:)Actually dint c the amt of water used prior to bringing all thot the big glass jar wud b enugh...Only it wasn't :( so had to divide equally into 2 glass jars..Dont kno hows it goin 2 turn out.Also its very diff to find porcelin big jars nwadays...all they have is 1 litre ones :(Have to buy earthen pot..and do Beet and Wineaplle wine correctly ...Making $ easter :)

  37. Hi Mishmash,
    After a long time I got a simple but workable formula to make wine. My backyard having lot of white grape, but am going to try the same trick with those one. Hope it may come out with a nice sweet white one. I will sure post the result once it come out well. However, I have a lot of grapes, may be more than 10 kgs. I dont know how much the other ingradients to add, like yeast, gothambu, sugar etc etc. can u please give me some idea the quantity to put for 10 kgs grapes.

  38. How can we make grape wine from grape juice? Do we put cloves and cinnamon to make grape wine?

  39. Hey Shn..

    I just opened my first bottle of second batch of red wine.. this time, my wine tastes somewhat strong.. d'u have a tip for something to mellow it a little?


  40. Wine looks great and I am gonna try this out today. I just checked your recipe and saw that you have mentioned 19 cups of water. I believe that its only 9 cups, rgt?
    neways shall let you know the result after 2 months :)


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