What Is Munthiri Wine, Kerala’s Special Home-Made Christmas Brew To Welcome The Holiday Feel?

With its aromatic richness, this age-old wine remains a symbol of joy, togetherness, and the spirit of Christmas

by Tejashee Kashyap
What Is Munthiri Wine, Kerala’s Special Home-Made Christmas Brew To Welcome The Holiday Feel?

In the picturesque state of Kerala, Christmas is celebrated with a distinct flair. There’s a unique Christmas tradition that stands out, the preparation and consumption of Munthiri Wine. With its aromatic richness, this age-old wine remains a symbol of joy, togetherness, and the spirit of Christmas.

What Is Munthiri Wine?

Image credits: Canva

Munthiri wine is a handmade grape wine made primarily during the Christmas season. Unlike stronger commercial wines, this homebrew is created from dark red grapes or raisins and is sweet in flavour, similar to port wine or dessert wine. Only after the midnight mass at the church on Christmas Eve may people eat the fruit cake and drink wine, kicking off the festivities in full force.

The origins of Munthiri Wine can be traced back to the Portuguese influence in Kerala during the colonial era. The Portuguese, with their penchant for winemaking, introduced various culinary elements, including the cultivation of cashew trees. Over time, the locals adopted and adapted these influences into their customs, giving rise to the unique practice of making Munthiri Wine during Christmas.

Families come together to partake in the joyous task of preparing this traditional drink. The act of making Munthiri Wine becomes a ritual, weaving together the threads of family, tradition, and celebration. During Christmas feasts, Munthiri Wine takes its place of honour alongside a spread of traditional Kerala delicacies.  Grapes and sugar are added to a large ceramic jar in portions, or to fill it somewhat more than halfway through. Yeast or sprouted wheat kernels are added to begin the fermentation process, which lasts at least 21 days.

However, after brewing for more than three months, it begins to develop complex tastes and the sweetness fades. While metal or plastic jars are not utilised for fermentation, tall ceramic or terracotta jars are a common alternative for brewing this regional wine.

Some individuals add spices such as cinnamon or cloves to enhance the flavour. While others use egg whites to speed up the fermenting process. However, a 21-day wait is required for the wine to be ready. The wine poured into the glass is incredibly exquisite, especially when accompanied by a Christmas fruit cake.

Also Read: Glühwein, A Harry Potter-Inspired Mulled Wine Is Perfect For Magical Christmas; Recipe

How To Make Munthiri Wine?

Image credits: Canva

The primary ingredient, cashew, is not the only star in this festive drink. Munthiri Wine is a harmonious blend of cashews, jaggery, spices, and a dash of creativity.

The process begins with harvesting ripe cashew apples, which are then carefully crushed to extract the juice. This juice forms the base of the wine, giving it a distinct flavour and fragrance. Next, jaggery, a traditional Indian sweetener made from concentrated sugarcane juice, is added to sweeten the concoction. The choice of jaggery over refined sugar adds depth to the flavour, imparting a subtle molasses-like richness. The addition of spices such as cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon enhances the complexity of Munthiri Wine, creating a sensory symphony that is both festive and comforting.  To make the wine look deep red or maroon, caramelised sugar was often used instead of raw sugar.

Fermentation is a crucial step in the winemaking process, The result is a beverage that reflects the craftsmanship and dedication of the individuals involved in its creation.

Enjoy your homemade Munthiri Wine during this holiday season!

Cover image credits: Canva