Sunday, December 14, 2008


Had a bit of routine wine work to do today, handy since doing anything outside is totally out of the question.

The Riesling reached the proper SG (.098), and the sediment was starting to settle on its own, as you can see in the picture. If I was patient, I could just let the wine settle and clear, with no additives. It would take a year, but there would be no sulfites in the wine. Sulfites don't give me headaches, and I am not patient.

So, I sanitized a new carboy and the siphon, and put (grunt, heave, strain back muscles) the full carboy on the dining room table, trying not to jostle the sediment too much. Then I racked the wine, leaving about 1" of sludge on the bottom of the old carboy. That sludge was active yeast. The alcohol content of the wine hadn't exceeded it's genetic limit, it just ran out of sugar to eat. If I added it to a new batch of juice, it would be up and bubbling in an hour. If I added more sugar to the riesling, it would be bubbling again as well. In fact, adding more sugar and yeast is how champagne and sparkling wines are made.

I stirred in 1/4 tsp of sodium metabisulfite to kill the yeast, and then gently stirred in 1 cup of Sparkolloid mixture to clarify the wine. We usually use Isinglass, but Northern Brewer said that Sparkolloid was the best clarifier they'd found. I'll be curious to see how well and quickly it works. The last task was topping off the wine to minimize the air space under the fermentation lock (if I had a bottle of home made Riesling on hand, I would have used that, but alas, it's all gone. So I used filtered water). Now we just wait for the wine to clear- that can take 3 weeks or 3 months, or it can take a year, depending on the wine, the clarifying agent, the temp, and whether or not I chanted the proper magic charm when I started this enterprise. We'll rack the wine several times as it clarifies- whenever there is an inch or more of sediment in the bottom of the carboy. When there is no more dropping out, and the wine is crystal clear, it's done. At which time it can be sweetened (if desired) and bottled.
The Hard Lemonade is bubbling and slowly dropping SG (1.050 this morning- it has to be 1.020-1.030 when it goes to anaerobic fermentation). The foam is totally different than the foam on the grape wines, which I find fascinating (I amuse easily). Next up, I think a 5 gallon batch of Merlot, after the Hard Lemonade goes into the carboy.

No comments: