I read Jan’s comment about her mom accidentally fermenting grape juice to “wine” on my post about making wine in Toronto, and I was reminded about a similar incident at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, now over 20 years ago. At the time I was an international student studying in the U.S., so I could only work on-campus: I chose to work Food Service (Dish Crew, Catering and in the Coffee Cove) and had a great time while earning extra money. The pictures at right were from a day when I was working on the Dish Crew… and the dishwasher broke down. The result was an enormous backlog of dishes.
One day… I believe this was in coordination with the annual “Taste of Chicago”, which is now the world’s largest food festival… we were serving for lunch some new and experimental ideas in meals and presentation. They were being served to the whole school, but we (as Food Service employees) got to enjoy everything early, and to be the trial group to see if what the many vendors had sent us was worth it. One of these new concepts was the little boxes of juice that you stick a straw in to puncture the inner lining, allowing a single serving. Now they are almost ubiquitous, but at the time (in the mid-80s) this was quite a novel idea.
We noticed that one of the cases of grape juice was filled with single-serving boxes that were slightly bulging. It did not take long to figure out what had happened (wine + sugar + time = fermentation if contaminated with any kind of yeast-like organism) and a couple of us tried them before there was a general realization of what had happened. I remember there was a slightly satisfying “pop” as we punctured them. The fermented juice (it could hardly be called wine) was not what might be called “good”: but nor was it completely unpalatable. We tried several of them, but I believe the bulk of the case was discarded. It was one of our more memorable lunches: not because there was anything wonderful about the wine itself, but there was a certain irony in knowing that we were not permitted to drink alcohol while students at the Institute, yet this had come to us completely unsuspected and in a completely natural method.