The wine Charley referred to is my Praline Dessert Wine, not pecan. I have yet to successfully make a wine from pecans, as the oil in them separates and goes rancid, spoiling the wine. Pralines are crisp confections made with nuts (typically pecans) stirred in boiling syrup until brown. One can use both brown sugar and/or molasses to give them different flavors. Last year I made a Praline-flavored wine, which I then aged approximately nine months. The 2003 Cowie International Amateur Wine Competition, at Paris, Arkansas, was where I chose to "introduce" it to the world.
For the record, this wine did not place at this competition, although it did very well at the San Antonio Regional Wine Guild 2003 Spring Competition the following day. In Arkansas, the wine was severely judged down for being "brown" and "oxidized." The wine, in fact, is a golden-brown to amber color, looking very much like sherry. This color would be a natural expectation of anyone who has ever eaten a praline. Such confections are, however, evidently beyond the limited experiences of the judges employed for the Arkansas competition. Further, the wine certainly is not oxidized, having neither the odor nor the taste of an oxidized wine. These tell-tale signs of oxidation, evidently, are also beyond the experience, knowledge and sensory abilities of the Arkansas judges. However, the San Antonio judges, who actually must pass rather severe tests to become certified home wine judges, correctly recognized that any wine calling itself "praline" must necessarily possess a brownish hue to be correct to the description. I just wish Dr. Justin Morris of the University of Arkansas would teach his students to use similar common sense. It would also be helpful to the competition if the student judges knew how to recognize the olefactory and gustatory evidence of oxidation -- a known chemical state that should not be too difficult to recognize.
Here, finally, is the story of my Praline Dessert Wine. Last year, in Mountain View, Arkansas, my wife and I picked up a bottle of Southern Praline Mix, a liquid confectionary mix manufactured by Savannah Cinnamon and Cookie Company, Savannah Mixes, Inc., of Savannah, Georgia. This very brown liquid mix was the base ingredient in making the praline dessert wine. I had to feel my way on this one, as I had no idea what kind of wine this mix would produce. All I knew for sure was that it should be a dessert wine, and for that I reached for a finished alcohol of 14.5%. I used Sauternes yeast because I wanted the wine to finish on the sweet side, even though I knew I would sweeten it with simple syrup before bottling. The recipe follows.
Bring 1 quart water to boil and add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Remove from heat, pour into primary, and add Savannah Mixes Southern Praline Mix. Add remaining water and set aside to cool. When room temperature, add acid blend, yeast nutrient and crushed and dissolved Campden tablet. Stir well, cover and set aside 10-12 hours. Add activated yeast and recover primary. Stir daily for 10 days, then transfer into secondary and attach airlock. After 2 months, rack into clean secondary, top up and refit airlock. Wait additional month and rack, stabilize, top up and again refit airlock. After additional month, sweeten to desired or balance level and rack into bottles. [Author's own recipe]
My thanks to Charley Wilson of Tyler, Texas for this request.