The First Wine Snob Was a Chimp, Says Science
It's widely known that we share more than 95% of our genes with chimps. What's not so well known is that we also share a taste for the sauce. Or at least an ability to metabolize alcohol.
A new study (via The Seattle Times) suggests that our primate relatives first developed their genetic ability to metabolize ethanol about 10 million years ago. Yes, it looks like our ape cousins were the original bad influences. Just as we suspected. And with a 10-million-year head start, scientists do not advise trying to catch up.
How did this happen? Like many things we love, "wine" was first discovered by happy accident. Not with the human invention of agriculture some 10,000 years ago, but millions of years before that. Picture natural yeasts, blowing in the wind and settling upon a heap of squashed fruit; then imagine some lucky passerby, an ape dropping down from the trees for a bit of knuckle walking, scooping up the fermented fruit for a taste...and, whoa, liking what she discovered.
In theory, making wine is just that simple: Yeast meets fruit juice in an environment favorable for fermentation. These days, of course, winemaking is a little more arty, a little more science-y. But take away the carefully controlled environment and refined process, and that's basically it. Here's an easy way to make wine at home.
You can, however, make the process even easier. This homemade wine recipe cheats by starting with frozen juice concentrate (no stomping or stemming).
Incidentally, this method is essentially the way they did it back in the days of prohibition. Grape growers would mail blocks of grapes to thirsty patrons, along with packets of yeast and careful instructions on how to prevent the two ingredients from accidentally coming together to produce wine.
Here's another easy way to make homemade wine. Dandelion wine. It has the benefit of turning a pesky lawn weed into a boozy treat.
Beermaking, by the way, is actually a bit more involved than winemaking but equally rewarding...in that beer also has alcohol in it. These recipes for Snail Pale, Frank the Tank's Red Dragon Ale, and Irish Chocolate Stout are easy enough to make at home.
Still, it's probably not a good idea to toast any of these home brews with an actual chimp. They are many, many, many times more powerful than humans. And can be unpredictable when hammered. Also when sober.
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