In rural Newfoundland, store bought anything in earlier days was rare. People fended for themselves, and their neighbours, and as I’ve mentioned before, trades of things were common.
Store bought alcohol was as well rarer than now. People made their own home brewed beer with their own recipes, not the kits like we used. I remember even hearing of potatoes and raisins in the mix. Lemon Gin was popular, though it may or may not have had any lemons or juniper berries for that matter though they do grow back home. Wine was also common, usually from blueberries which are plentiful. I’ve heard some made some from apples and other berries as well. And I’ve even heard tell of people making dandelion wine, though I can’t say its something I’d ever want to experience.
But the granddaddy of them all had to be dogberry wine. Dogberries are plentiful most falls back home, people would often use them as a portent of winter. More berries meant a longer winter. Being so plentiful, people used them as another source for wine, and one year Eric and I decided we had to try it.
Finding a recipe for it from either mom, or a book, I forget, we followed it, and fermented the berries into wine and bottled it into, whatever bottles we had on hand. And of course we tried some.
Well lets just say the results were less than spectacular in the way paint thinner is a little unlike champagne. It has to be pretty bad when we couldn’t even manage to drink any of it. Other than a taste here and there to remind ourselves how bad it was.
That said though, we did manage to get rid of it. To this day I’ll never understand how he could drink it, but one day Eric, Junior and I (and likely more) planned to meet and head off ice fishing and atv/skidooing. I remember we went to round pond and L pond, and on the path between them there was an old one room cabin. We went in there and lit a fire, warmed ourselves for a while, and had a drink, and watched and laughed as Junior was somehow able to manage to drink a whole bottle of the stuff. As for me, I’d rather have drunk a bottle of varsol!
Good times with good friends. Those are the things we miss most.
For anyone foolhardy enough, here’s a recipe from Downhome Recipes: Downhomelife.com
Dogberry Wine (Beverages)
• 2 quarts dogberries
• 1 doz. apples
• 4 quarts water
• 8 cups sugar
Cook berries and apples in water. Strain. Add sugar in a large crock. When lukewarm, add 1 pkg.
yeast. Store in a warm place until all bubbles have gone. Strain again and bottle.
Raised in outport Newfoundland in a town of 65 people, I pursued a post secondary diploma in Information Technology right out of High School.
I’ve always been a geek at heart, but yet I love the rural life I grew up with. Fishing, hunting, camping and the great outdoors are still loves of mine, even if I don’t pursue them as often as I once did. Sports were always a big part of our lives, and I played many (badly) and loved them all.