The Mystique of Moonshine Wine
The crash of the American economy in 1929 that brought about The Great Depression drove enterprising individuals to go into the illegal wine trade. As smuggling of liquor became rampant, the American government struck back on the illicit trade with The Prohibition. The law cracked down on speakeasy joints that served liquor behind closed doors, and leaned hard on liquor smugglers and the people who made big money trafficking them. Organized crime was largely behind the illicit trade so the US law enforcement’s main crime fighting arm, the FBI waged an all-out war against criminal syndicates, the Mafia and their network.
Those who did not want any of this grisly war stealthily went their own ways about the illegal wine trade. They did so not by smuggling in liquor from the Canadian border or via other parts unknown to the authorities. They went about it by distilling their own wine and selling them in the black-market and, you guessed it right --- moonshine wine, as we know it was born!
Moonshine wine’s romantic affair with drinkers the world over derives its shady glamour from the reckless Hollywood indulgence given it by pop culture. So much so that many of us readily associate the idea with old, black and white James Cagney gangster movies and Grease Gun Gangs roaming Chicago’s streets on celluloid. Nothing can be farther from the truth, however.
The only idea
Moonshiners weren’t city slickers but boondocks and backwater dwelling boozers who made and manned their own makeshift distilleries in ramshackle huts deep in the wilds of the American heartland. So tucked away and hidden were they that tracking them down wasn’t worth the trouble for many law enforcers although the crackdown continued. Not so, however, for those thirsty for a drink of moonshine wine. After all, a hike in the forested hills and mountains that led to the ramshackle huts where the illicit booze abound was not only the best idea. It was the only idea to get some booze on you in those days --- and far from the maddening Chicago gangster crowd. When the US government eventually abolished Prohibition, the wine industry rose again. Moonshiners got relegated to the seedy background and receded further into the recesses of hick town folk tale.
Folk tales, legend and pop culture have so played this story many times over that we now imagine moonshine wine makers with a strong sense of adventure on the sly. It is our collective curiosity that makes moonshine wine interesting topic for discussion over, what else, booze? Little do we realize that the spirit behind the fascination we have for moonshine wine is the same spirit that drives independent wine makers to come up with good booze. The one thing that differentiates today’s independent winemakers is that they do not consider themselves moonshiners. At the same time, they do sell their products just like the usual wine retailer does. It must not surprise you to discover how many of them even have small business phone infrastructure to back them up just like any business does.
Where it is forbidden
The spirit of moonshine wine making, if it can be considered such, can now only be found in places and circumstances where boozing is strictly forbidden. Such instances happen in fundamentally Islamic countries in many parts of the Middle East and in some parts of Southeast Asia. Considered as lawbreaker activities and liable to severe punishment under Sharia Laws, the manufacture and consumption of alcoholic beverages by individuals or groups of individuals, however, continue on the sly. In other countries in Asia where liquor retail is closely monitored owing to exorbitant sin taxes to discourage consumption, there continue to be winemakers producing liquor outside of the confines of mainstream distillery industries. These are alcoholic beverage manufacturers who go about their ways as a backyard business or on a cottage industry basis.