Thursday, June 30, 2011

Racking Updates

Buona giornata... Here's an update on the wine side of Two Things!

On Sunday, the four of us (plus Kevin Sunway, a.k.a. The Ghost of Mason Rd) got together to make some beer at Jack Dords' home. This kind of reminded me that I needed to re-rack my wine before I had knee surgery this week: The Pineapple-Orange wine and the Watermelon wine haven't been re-racked in a while. I decided to re-rack them and take a quick peak at flavor and smell.

Pineapple-Orange Wine (henceforth referred to as POJ, until a name is picked)

- POJ wine was started April 23, 2010, so as of today it has aged 433 days (or 1 year, 2+ months) total.
[Sidenote: A few months ago, I siphoned out approximately one bottle, which has been fully consumed. The flavor from said bottle was extremely sweet, with a hint of whiskey flavor. Why whiskey, you ask? Probably because I did a crap job of cleaning the bottle I siphoned in to! A lesson learned, from now on, I will clean all former liquor bottles with vinegar water and rinse them several times before using them as wine bottles.]

- 3rd racking: This time, I siphoned the large carboy of POJ into two gallon jugs and one cleaned liquor bottle. I intend to share some of this small bottle with whomever is interested in sampling and let the two full gallon jugs age for as long as I feel like. I labelled and dated the outside of one of the gallon jugs with the original date and this most recent racking date.

- In the large carboy, siphoning left behind about one inch of murky wine in the bottom of the carboy. As it is my intention to get this wine as clear and pure as possible, this was all tossed immediately.

- There have been no major changes in the color or consistency of the POJ wine. There are very few 'floaties' left in this wine. As it came from fresh-squeezed fruit, I have been very willing to leave behind and dump the "floaties" to make it more pure and mellow in taste.

- The taste of the wine is still sweet compared to most commercial wine I've had, although I can say with certainty that I've never had a commercial POJ wine. The 'bite' of the wine is certainly retreating as time goes and mellowing the flavor with time and re-racks has been the biggest priority of this process.

Watermelon Wine (project name "Break Bottles Behind Wawa" or "Watermelon Crawl")

- Watermelon wine was started on August 11, 2010, so as of today it has aged 323 days (or 10+ months) total.
[Sidenote: This wine was a bit of a worry in its early days. Reading back on old emails/blogs with Matus, Dords, and Der Brauer, I saw that we discussed whether or not to toss it completely. Ultimately, the literature I read said to not taste for 15 or so months past fermentation, as Watermelon wine tends to retain a gross odor for a while, even when done right.]

- 2nd racking: Upon examining the carboy of Watermelon wine, the wine color is a pale yellow, and there is almost no odor whatsoever (a total surprise to me). There is an approximately 2-inch thick layer of pink-to-red pigment in the bottom.

- I was careful to not let the siphoning hose get anywhere near this layer as I siphoned it into another 4-gallon carboy. I moved approximately 3 gallons of wine into the new carboy and capped the new carboy with an airlock. Labelled and dated the outside of the carboy with original date and most recent racking date.

- It took several rinses of the old carboy to get the pigments and pieces out of the bottom. The pink and red pieces in the bottom had a strong odor- not like the original foul smell of the fermentation, but like watermelon normally smells, just strong enough to burn your nose.

- Although writers online have suggested that I not taste this wine for about 4.5 more months, the curiosity got the best of me, I took some from the hose and dribbled it into a glass for a quick taste... the first sip had a bite to it, almost like Sake (Japanese brewed rice wine)! It is also thin, like Sake.

- The taste quickly developed into that of a dry wine, with a very light hint of watermelon flavor. I have no doubt that this will end up being the first truly Dry Wine that Two Things: Beer & Wine makes. Patience (and going into this wine with zero expectation) seem to be paying off.


-As Matus recently mentioned, he and I recently obtained blackberry bushes from different sources. One of those sources was my wife's grandfather, whom I look up to as an inspiration for making wine. His health is slowly failing, so prayers for peace for himself and his loved ones are appreciated.

- From the same source, I also recently obtained a large bag of frozen Muscadine grapes. As soon as I have started physical therapy and I am able to drive myself, I will be retrieving those from a family member's deep freeze in South St. Louis County and making a batch of Muscadine wine. I will be following his recipe as close as I possibly can.

Drink your wine from a stein!
Antonio Manzi

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