So my wine is bubbling along. I guess it qualifies as wine now. After all, it has transformed from juice with sugar added into juice with alcohol in it. I’m sure if it were consumed in quantities, it would make you lose your inhibitions and do stupid things. It would just taste nasty. It’s still an off yellow color in the corner, bubbling away in it’s new home.
For a week it sat in a bucket with a towel over it, percolating its yeasty bubbles and giving off a smell reminiscent of bread and spoiled fruit. Not altogether unpleasant in small quantities, but pretty off-putting whilst stirring it. I can see how the cops on “Moonshiners” said they could smell mash fermenting in the woods from quite a way off. I had six gallons of grapes and sugar water in a plastic bucket, and I could smell it from the back door of the house. These moonshiners have hundreds of gallons out in the woods where air can blow the smell everywhere. I can’t imagine that much potent fragrance wafting around.
So with the majority of the bubbling slowed down, it was time to transfer it to another holding tank. The yeasts constantly burp out Carbon Dioxide, which protects the wine from oxygen and nasty critters. However, once the alcohol is mostly done, the CO2 drops and the wine becomes vulnerable to all kinds of crap you don’t want to drink.
So it goes from a bucket into a fermenter with a little air lock on top, for the last 2/3 or so of sugar to turn to alcohol and to protect the wine. CO2 burps can get out, but nasties like bacteria and bugs can’t get in. It’s fun to watch the bubbles rising up in the bottom, and the little water burping every few seconds out of the top. Once the bubbles stop, it has to be transferred to a clean bottle, aged, and then bottled. Right now I have a towel around it. White wine is supposed to be damaged by sunlight after a while, so I’m keeping it covered while it works. Incidentally, thats why wine bottles are often cloudy or green, according to a book I am reading.
So, I started with 16% potential alcohol, according to the hydrometer. I should have used more sugar, because I like sweet wine, and I am afraid once this wine finishes, it will be dry, because all the sugar will have gone to alcohol, with no sugar left over. Right now I have about 1% potential alcohol left… so that’s a wine with 15% alcohol. A little high maybe, but I did have to add some water to top up the plastic jug, and I’ll have to do it again when I clean the jug out. (you lose some in the bottom when you suck the wine off the top. The dead nasty yeasts on the bottom have to stay behind, but you have to top up the jug to right at the neck, so there is minimum air space left over.
So there you go, my wine experiment. My wife asked me when it is going to turn red. I said, “this is a white wine, a red would be red already”. By the look on her face, I am guessing that the red wine should have been the first experiment. Oops. I need another big plastic narrow-necked jug any way, to move the white into when it’s time to clean the first one. I guess I could make a red wine at the same time. After all, this is a slow process… one that takes months. I don’t want it being September 2014 before the red wine comes out. That would suck. After all, I intend on giving this away for xmass… even if I have to tell people, “Look, don’t drink it until July!”
The funny thing is, the wine jug sits in the kitchen, and while we are watching the TV, there is a constant dripping water sound from the little air lock bubbling. It makes me think I left the sink on…