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How to Have an Ole-Fashioned Christmas? Try Wine-making!

by Lou-Ann Jordan Dec 4, 2023

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Every year, the complaints about how untraditional Christmas has become grow louder. Older generations reminisce, remembering a time of goodwill with neighbours. A time when children weren’t making Christmas lists that totalled in the thousands. Were there even lists?

Christmas then was a time of preparation. Much preparation went on before the actual day. There were ingredients to be ‘prepared’ for the black cake baked on Christmas Eve night. Of course, baking was an experience in and of itself. Grandmothers, mothers, and aunts multi-tasked as dough was kneaded to make tasty homemade bread, ingredients were set aside for sponge cakes, and the boiling ham was poked to determine readiness.

Then there were the beverages. Punch-a-crème and rum punch were made the same night. Also, sorrel boiled to dark-red perfection, and ginger beer was bottled and awaiting a throat to burn. We cannot omit the homemade wine consumed on Christmas day and during the holidays. It had spent the past few weeks fermenting.

While some people still make homemade wines today, it’s not done to the degree it was in the past. Homemade wines featured prominently among the Christmas traditions practiced in yesteryear. Months in advance, grannies-turn-wine-makers would begin collecting golden apples, cherries, five fingers, cane—basically any fruit. Also, two-litre bottles and buckets would be acquired, scrubbed, and set aside because they would hold the precious liquid. Ideally, the preparations began earlier in the year, and the wine was left to, in local parlance, “set” until the holiday festivities began.

Those were fun times with families excited to taste the wine. Others shared or exchanged their brew with friends a bottle as a holiday token. It was a time of community and generosity. As the holidays draw near, why not step back into that time. Rather than buy a bottle of wine for your Christmas lunch or dinner, why not brew your own? Here we’ve added a governor plum wine recipe and you can visit your local supermarket to purchase ingredients.

Before we begin, remember, we said this is a traditional recipe, so you may notice some measurements are a bit unconventional. Still, have fun trying it out.

Homemade Governor Plum Wine


½ five-gallon bucket ripe plums

Six pounds white sugar

Two tablespoons yeast


Wash the plums and crush them thoroughly. In the bucket, combine the plums, three to four litres of water, the sugar, and the yeast. Stir until the sugar dissolves.

Cover the bucket, ensuring the opening is tightly closed, and store it in a cool, dry place. Let the mixture sit for 21–28 days. Conduct weekly checks to monitor fermentation. More sugar can be added after the first week if necessary. Then leave the mixture to “sit out” for the duration of the time. Once the allotted time has elapsed, strain and bottle.

Enjoy your homemade wine.

Recipe courtesy Keron Richardson