OK, so sloe gin isn’t technically a wine, but given the open-minded, boozy streak that runs through my readership, I didn’t think you’d mind reading about how to make your own sloe gin.
Sloe gin is one of my favourites – sloes are basically tiny blue plums that, eaten raw, taste like licking a deodorant, but when combined with gin and sugar (and patience, unfortunately) become a delicious plummy, boozy treat.
1. Find some sloes. They grow wild on blackthorn bushes, which are spiky buggers found in hedgerows around parks and by A-roads. You need to wait until “the first frost” to pick them, which basically means until there’s been at least one properly cold night – generally October. If you can’t be bothered to go and forage for sloes, or can’t find any in your trendy enclave of London, there is a bustling sloe trade on Ebay, where you can even buy “organic” sloes from the rural county of your choice. You’ll need about a pound of sloes for every litre of gin.
2. Prepare the sloes. Once you’ve got your sloes, give them a good soak in salty water to get any lingering bugs off, and then rinse them well. You will then need to poke your sloes, either with a fork or a needle, so that their juice can seep into the gin.
3. Pop your sloes into a half-full gin bottle. You can either decant the other half of the gin into a different bottle for a second batch of sloe gin, or drink it now with lime and tonic, depending on what sort of day you’re having.
4. Add sugar to your sloe/gin mixture – you will need ½ a pound of sugar for every pound of sloes.
5. Add any secret ingredients. Some people add a couple of drops of almond extract, glycerine, cinnamon, orange peel or cloves. You might also like to try a couple of drops of Angostura bitters. Experiment!
6. Shake it up, baby. Give it a good shake now (make sure you’ve put the lid on first, LondonWineDad, if you’re reading) and then a good shake every couple of days for the next month or so.
7. Wait. You’ll need to leave the sloe and sugar mixture in for at least 8 weeks before you can sieve out the sludgey sloe mixture and enjoy your delicious sloe gin. The longer you leave it, the yummier it will be.
8. Drink. Whatever you do, do not drink your sloe gin neat, as it will be very strong but deceptively smooth and sweet, rendering you stupidly drunk very quickly. It’s amazing with soda or tonic, and makes a great addition to champagne or any sparkling white wines.
Enjoy life in the sloe lane – and thanks for reading,