Wine Grape Pie
It is a wondrous time.
It is Piemas (or Pi Day, if you prefer).
A celebration of all things crust-contained, Piemas is a grand thing. Traditionally, my friends and I celebrate by eating nothing that is not in some way pie-related – shepherd’s pie, pizza pie, and quiche count for the savouries, although this year we also had chicken pot pie and sloppy joe pie – and seeing just how close we can get the pie-to-person ratio to 1:1.
This year, we almost succeeded. I believe there were something like 20 pies in attendance, feeding 26 or so people. Some of the highlights included Schadenfreude Pie (also known as the Pie of No Return, the Seven-Pound Pie, the Neutron Star Pie, and the LaBrea TarPie), a lovely lemon-avocado pie that I’m going to have to try to replicate, and a delicious cranberry-blueberry pie that had some real zing to counteract the sometimes cloying sweetness of the blueberry filling. I also ate way too much quiche.
My own contribution to the festivities was something I grew up eating – wine grape pie. Y’see, I come from the Finger Lakes wine region originally, and one thing to do with the grapes that aren’t up to wine standards or that have to be removed from the vines to let other grapes flourish and sweeten more fully is make pie.
Traditionally, grape pie is made with a mix of vinifera (aka wine grapes) and concords, which are a very sweet native American grape (you know, the stuff that makes Manischewitz). You can, however, make a very passable version with black grapes, or even regular red grapes if you can’t find anything else.
Also traditionally, this is made with just grapes and sugar. Personally, I’m not satisfied with that. I want a more sophisticated pie, something with a little depth and richness. So I leave out the sugar and then boil the grapes with red wine and some concord grape jelly, then spike the resulting mixture with lemon juice and balsamic vinegar.
Basically, you’re making the best grape jam you’ve ever had, then putting it in a crust. What’s not to like? Sure, it’s a little bit of a fussy recipe, but it’s a damn fine pie, worth celebrating with on Piemas!
Wine Grape Pie
5c wine grapes (or 5c concord or black grapes)
1/2c red wine
1/2c concord grape jelly
1t lemon juice
1T balsamic vinegar
2 9-inch pie crusts (homemade or refrigerated)
1 egg, lightly beaten
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Wash the grapes and pop them out of their skins. Save the skins in a bowl. Yes, this step is necessary – if you don’t peel the grapes, they’ll become bitter in the filling, particularly if you’re using wine grapes.
- Squeeze grape pulp between your fingers as you place it in a large saucepan, breaking up the pulp roughly.
- Bring grape pulp, red wine, and grape jelly to a boil over medium heat.
- Ladle about 1/4c of juice out of the saucepan, and whisk it with the cornstarch in a bowl until smooth, then stir the mixture back into the saucepan full of grapes.
- Boil grape mixture for 15-20min, or until most liquid has evaporated and the mixture resembles jam.
- Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and balsamic vinegar.
- If you used grapes that have seeds, press the grape mixture through a food mill or sieve to remove the seeds.
- Mix the grape pulp mixture together with the reserved grape peels.
- Pour the grape mixture into a 9-inch pie crust. Cover with the second crust. You can either make a lattice by slicing the top crust into strips, weaving it together, and transferring to the top of the pie, or you can just use a plain crust and cut a few slashes in the top. You don’t have to add the little bunch of grapes and leaf made out of crust scraps, but isn’t it pretty?
- Crimp the crusts together by folding them together, toward the center of the pie, and then pinching the edge between your fingers.
- Brush the top of the pie lightly with beaten egg – this is what gives you that lovely, burnished gold top.
- Bake at 400F for 20 minutes.
- Reduce the oven heat to 350F and bake for another 30min, until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbly.
- Let cool, then enjoy!