Fine Country Wines and Meads

To begin:

Wine is a fermented (not distilled) alcoholic beverage made without the use of grains.  That's a paraphrasing of the legal definition of wine in the United States.  You see, alcoholic fermentation has pretty light requirements - you need a source of fermentable sugars, and that pretty much covers it.  Jack Keller wrote a great article on country wines in which he related a story about making wine from grass clippings.  He adds a second requirement in that article that the base ingredients should be non-toxic, which is an excellent criterion.  Additionally, I try to avoid excessively fatty ingredients (e.g. nuts) because they make a mess in the fermenter (although a pecan mead can be pretty heavenly) and I never have had and probably never will have the courage to include meat in a recipe, but that stuff doesn't really have much for fermentables anyway.

So that leaves me with fruits and vegetables, plus whatever sugar sources I can dig up.  The first country wine I ever made was beet wine, because I ended up with a surplus of beets and decided I couldn't eat them all before they would spoil.  I've been doing that one for a while, but that's beside the point.  The point really is that winemaking is at its core a food preservation technique.