Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Sops of Wine *

The streaky blush of this apple, red with an orange cast,  covers most of a light green-yellow peel. Large light lenticels provide additional decoration.

The apple is on the large end of medium, oblate and moderately ribbed. It has a rich, sweet aroma with a hint of yeast, and feels quite firm

The light yellow flesh, more coarse-grained than fine, is pleasant to chew but not very crisp by modern standards. The flavors are well balanced, favoring the sweet side, with a little savory note and quite a bit of banana.

It's not quite vinous but comes close. There is also a very slight bitterness that I associate with tannins.

These interesting flavors repay close attention, for they are subtle. The flesh oxidizes quickly.

Sops of Wine dates from early 19th Century England, and today many sources describe it as a culinary or cider apple. It's quite eatable out of hand, if not outstanding in that capacity.

"Sops of wine" refers, perhaps, to pieces of bread soaked in wine, to wine imbued with herbs or flowers, or to the Clove Gilliflower, itself a traditional wine-sop flavoring.

The superior Winesap (or Wine Sop) apple is not related, except etymologically, but also has a savory quality.

When I hunt for this apple online, I uncover some widely divergent descriptions, suggesting that there may be more than one variety sharing this old name. Alas, I cannot untangle this one, but my description of this particular apple is true.


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