Wednesday, January 18, 2012

An Exercise in Patience - My First Attempt at Home Winemaking

My husband is big on beer.  Beer is one of the things Michigan does well; we have a dizzying array of excellent craft breweries.  Taking this interest a step farther, a little over a year ago, he started brewing his own, with pretty damn fabulous results.  The latest batch was a milk stout, and boy, will I be sad when that last bottle is gone.

Now, originally, I hadn't intended to get caught up in it myself.   But being his brewer's assistant was fun, and when we'd go to the local home brewing supply, I would find myself picking up this book on unusual wines over and over again to browse through while he was deciding what to get for his next batch.

So I bought it, and for Christmas got myself set up with the few things I'd need that we didn't already have, and off I went!

My first effort is an almond wine, started by cooking a sludge of water, chopped almonds, and pulverized golden raisins.  It gave off some intriguing smells, but it looked pretty strange.
Strain that, let it cool, add the yeast, and into a bucket to ferment for ten days.  That was eleven days ago--yesterday was the first racking day.  Racking is the process that siphons the fermenting wine off of its sediment into a new container, and (apparently) this needs to be done quite a few times during the fermentation process; prolonged exposure to the dead yeast that settles out can damage the flavor of the wine.  Makes sense, right?

Racking day went smoothly, which makes me quite pleased, because I'm going to do it again in a month.  And a month after that, and after that, on until the wine is clear instead of murky, and our trusty hydrometer tells me that it is wine instead of fruit juice.
Speaking of fruit juice--the recipe called for grape juice concentrate.  The wine is now pink because the recipe wasn't specific on which kind...and I, unthinkingly, grabbed regular grape juice instead of white.  A strong purple added to a lovely gold apparently produces this, a sort of sickly brownish pink.  It's in my notes never to make that mistake again!

Now that my fermenting bucket is empty, I get the daunting task of deciding which wine to start next!

No comments:

Post a Comment