White Grape, Apple + Sage Shrub
Post by Molly
If living on a Tuscan farm isn’t the Tupp Ups dream, I’m not sure what is. From ribollita to grappa, the Tuscans make the most of every crumb, stem, and core — transforming otherwise sad or disregarded scraps into tomorrow’s delicious antipasto, soup, or chilled beverage. After working my first grape harvest as an intern at Spannocchia, an agroturismo just outside of Siena, I learned just how sustainable Italian organic farming truly is. During the vendemmia, less full bunches of grapes are set aside to be hung and dried for vin santo, a sweet dessert wine. Skins and seeds are saved for grappa, and any grapes that fall from the stems are pressed into sweet grape juice.
After a week watching white grape skins and seeds pile up outside of the cantina as we vinified the vino bianco, my Tupp Ups wheels turned. I remembered a delicious cocktail I tried at Portland’s Pok Pok years ago, with gin, honey, and house-made apple drinking vinegar. Drinking vinegars, or “shrubs,” date back to colonial times, when they were consumed for their health benefits. Mixed with soda as a simple tonic, or paired with alcohol, drinking vinegars have a wonderful, refreshing tartness that balance nicely with sweet or herbaceous flavors.
With an abundance of fresh herbs and millefiori honey at my fingertips, plus vinegars of all kinds stashed in our pantry, I snagged some grape skins and seeds and gave the shrub a whirl. I used apple cider vinegar to balance the grape flavor, but really any fruit or vinegar would do. The key is incorporating the right amount of sweetness so that the shrub shifts from an astringent cooking vinegar to a refreshing drinking vinegar. As it turns out, there’s no better way to end a long week of farm work than with a sweet and sour gin cocktail — straight from the grapes you’ve been harvesting.
Prep: One week, two days / Makes: About 16 oz / Lasts: In the fridge for one year
WHAT YOU NEED:
- 4 cups mashed white grapes
- 1-1.5 cups honey or sugar
- 1-1.5 cups white or apple cider vinegar
- 1 bunch of sage leaves
WHAT YOU DO:
- Soak mashed grapes in honey or sugar for two days
- Run the juices through a fine mesh sieve
- Add vinegar and sage and let rest in the fridge for one week
- Enjoy with soda, gin, or any mixer to your liking