A tall ‘frosty’ glass of home-made wine. —Photo: AYANNA KINSALE


Cheers to the season!

By Kimoy Leon Sing

Many people enjoy a tall glass of freshly brewed sorrel or ginger beer; however some people might want something a little stronger for the holiday season. Ponche de crème and home-made wine are popular selections for the Christmas season.

Similar to eggnog that is made with heavy cream, ponche de crème is a rich creamy drink made with sweetened condensed milk, a healthy dose of dark rum, a splash of Angostura bitters and a dash of grated nutmeg. While a good homemade ponche de crème is a delight, a bad one would have no one asking for seconds.

“Some people do not add enough eggs to their ponche de crème which is a common mistake; and this affects the taste and consistency of your drink. You should use approximately six to 12 eggs when making ponche de crème; depending on the serving size,” said, chef Sandra White.

White is a chef at the Trinidad Hilton and mother of six children. Cooking is her passion and as a chef, she believes food should not only be pleasing in taste but also the eyes.

She said, “If you are expecting guests and would really like to do something a little fancy then chill the ponche de crème before serving over crushed ice and garnish with cinnamon powder.”

“A good home-made wine has a good strong “winey” scent which is also a good indication that the fermentation process is going well. If you are getting a “yeasty” scent and froth at the top then you have a bad batch of wine. One of the reasons for this could be unclean utensils, poor yeast or improper storage,” White said.

“Keep in mind, home-made wine has a distinct alcohol flavour that comes through,” she added.


Home-made wine



• 1kg grape juice concentrate

• ½ kg sugar

• 1 tsp wine-making yeast

• Juice from 1 lemon



Dissolve the sugar in a little warm water in a clean plastic bowl.

Stir in the wine-making yeast.

Mix the grape and lemon juice to make up a quantity of 4.6 litres (1 gallon) by adding cold water.

Stir in the yeast mixture and cover the bowl with a cloth. Liquid will begin to bubble in one day.

After two days, transfer the liquid to a one-gallon jar and fit on a fermentation lock. Fermentation should be complete within three weeks. The wine can now be siphoned off leaving the sediment behind. Strain and bottle immediately. This wine can be drunk immediately; however you can get better results if you are not in a hurry.

In that case, when fermentation is complete, siphon the wine into a clean jar, add one crushed Campden tablet cork and leave the jar in a cool dark place. Inspect every two weeks. Siphon into a clean jar whenever there is sediment. Do this over a period of two months. Bottle the wine and store for another month before drinking.


Ponche de Crème

Follow these instructions carefully for your special blend of ponche de creme
• 1 dozen eggs
• 6 tins condensed milk
• 2 tins or packs evaporated milk
• 1 bottle rum (any type will do)
• ¼ bottle puncheon rum (optional)
• Lime peel
• 1 tsp spoon grated nutmeg 
• 3-4 good shakes 
Angostura bitters
Crack egg one by one in a bowl. A good tip is to crack in a saucer first to make sure all are good and have no bad smell signifying a rotten egg. 
Whip all the eggs with the lime peel until fluffy. Add condensed and evaporated milk to the fluffed eggs and stir. Add rum, nutmeg and puncheon. Add bitters and stir until mixture is very smooth. Remove lime peel and bottle out. (Don’t refrigerate because the mixture will get very thick in the bottle) Store in your cupboard or liquor cabinet. This mixture will make about four bottles of ponche de crème. Serve with crushed ice.
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