Recently, I decided that I like the intense flavor of Concord grapes most in drink form. Several years ago, I tested and loved a recipe from the New York Times Magazine involving a heavily spiced grape purée to which you add vodka, lemon juice and soda water. So last week, I decided to make a Concord grape soda, inspired by the Times recipe. I cut way back on the spices, opting for a just a little cinnamon, because I wanted a purer grape flavor, and I upped the lemon juice, forgoing the vodka (but you don't have to!). The resulting soda was refreshing, intensely grapey, and a sure herald of fall.
Zest and juice 1 lemon and put the zest in a heavy, wide saucepan. Set the juice aside. Add the grapes, sugar, cinnamon stick, salt and 2 tablespoons of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves and cook gently over medium-low heat until the grapes have all broken down, about 20 minutes. Let cool.
Press the grapes and juice through a fine mesh sieve until you have a smooth puree (you should have about 3/4 cup). Discard the grape seeds and peels left in the sieve, as well as the cinnamon stick.
To make the soda: Cut the second lemon into thin wedges. Put several ice cubes in each of 6 tumblers. Add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of the grape puree to each glass. Fill with soda water and stir gently to combine. Add a lemon wedge to a each glass and serve, with stirrers if you have them.