Ever since Lloyd Mathews was a little boy growing up in a joint family, he’d watch his paternal grandparents making wine. “Over the years, I learnt a thing or two,” he says, walking us into his beautiful bungalow in the quiet Amboli village, tucked away from the chaos of Andheri.
The East Indian community, considered to be the original inhabitants of Bombay, are known for their love of food and drink, and no occasion is complete without a serving of wine. “Every time there was a celebration, whether it was Christmas, or a wedding, we’d make our own wine at home,” explains Mathews, a professional photographer.
The middle one of three siblings, Mathews is the only one who picked up his grandparents’ enthusiasm for the culinary arts. “In about 1993-94, when I was in class 11, I made my first bottle of wine with grapes.
But soon after, I began trying my hand with other fruits. My first experiment was with a pineapple -- it was a cheap fruit so if I failed it wouldn’t cost me the earth,” he says with a laugh. When that was a success, he tried peaches, guava, kiwi and beetroot. Soon enough, Mathews had relatives and friends requesting him to make them a bottle or two.
“Home-made wine has no added preservatives and no added alcohol, it’s just sugar, fruit and yeast. It’s all natural, and that’s what people appreciate. I used to oblige them earlier, but now I no longer have that kind of time or the space,” says the wine enthusiast, pointing to a cupboard he uses as his cellar -- it is stuffed top to bottom with liquors of all kinds from Pimms to Cutty Sark. “I just pass on my recipe to them and tell them to do it themselves,” smiles Mathews.
Luckily, Mathews is happy to part with his recipe and willingly reveals the secret of his high-spirited potions. Because it isn’t the season for grapes (“they’d be far too expensive at the moment”) he uses a ripe pineapple instead. Pineapple, he explains, ferments the fastest. It only takes seven days and will have about 20 per cent alcohol content.
} 1 ripe pineapple (for two bottles of wine)
} 1 tbsp dry yeast
} 6 cups sugar } 6 cups water
Dice pineapple into small cubes.
Stir the dry yeast in warm water.
Add all the ingredients together in a jar (preferably ceramic, if that’s not available, use glass)
Stir daily, mashing the fruit with your hands. Continue for seven days. On the seventh day, strain and bottle the wine. (For crystal clear wine, strain again after seven days.)
} 2 kgs sugar } 1 kg grapes/ currants
} 120 gms wheat grains
} 30 gms powdered yeast (mixed in warm water) } 6 litres water
In a jar, mix all the ingredients.
Stir daily for two weeks, then strain.
Add 1 cup of burnt sugar and keep for two weeks longer.
Strain again, then bottle.
} 1 kg beetroot (grated)
} 3 litres water
} 1 kg sugar
} 1 tbsp dry yeast (mixed in warm water)
} Juice of 2 oranges and 2 lemons
} A few cloves
} 1 tbsp dry ginger
Boil the grated beetroot in water.
Take off the fire, strain.
Add all the other ingredients.
Keep in a jar for 14 days. Strain, and bottle.