Monthly Archives: January 2014

Home-Made Wine From a Kit: Degassing, Stabilization, and Clarifying

If you’ve been following along with this little adventure then you’ll notice it’s been quite some time since the last post. If you’re just joining us you can check out part 1 and part 2 first.

The wine has finished it’s secondary fermentation over the last two weeks and is ready for the next process: degassing. If this sounds like something you need after Thanksgiving dinner then you’d be close. All of the fermentation has produced millions of carbon-dioxide bubbles that remain suspended in the wine, and we’ll need to get rid of those to prevent corks from popping out or bottles breaking. The bubbles also help to suspend particles that we are trying to get out of the wine to clarify it. The “Wine Expert” kit we’re using has you mix all the sediment in the carboy back into suspension as you stir very vigorously. I use a special paddle with a long rod that attaches to a power drill. Before stirring I add a couple chemicals: potassium metabisulphite kills off the yeast to stop fermentation but also is a powerful antioxidant that prevents discoloration and spoilage, and potassium sorbate which is basically a preservative. These chemicals stabilize the wine to prevent further fermentation and get rid of harmful acids or bacteria. These are added to water first and then stirred into the wine. By stirring rapidly, all of the gas bubbles are released and the wine foams up just like soda poured into a glass. After stirring for a couple of minutes I add something called isinglass clarifier, which will clump together all of the solids suspended in the wine and make them drop to the bottom of the carboy. Then the wine gets more stirring until all the trapped CO2 bubbles escape.

The last step is to put an airlock on the carboy and wait. It’s fun to watch the wine clear. First it’s all cloudy, then the cloudy layer slowly moves toward the bottom of the carboy over the course of about a week. When it gets to the bottom the wine is almost clear.

The cloud of gunk getting near the bottom of the carboy

The cloud of gunk getting near the bottom of the carboy

After about two weeks the wine is totally clear but still has a nice color. The instructions tell you to bottle it from here but I like to transfer the wine into another container and leave the sediment behind. Next I’ll wait another week for any sediment to settle again before bottling.

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Take the Midnite Special and DubStep Into Deafness

Due to some house guests that I had to attend to for the past three weeks I haven’t been able to blog at all. Plus I’ve been feeling a little depressed recently and usually when that happens I drop out of things and disconnect from other people. Things are looking better though, I had a great visit with my son when he came up for a week over school break.

When I drove to Cape Cod to pick him up I also dropped off my two brother-in-laws. I get along pretty well with them but after a couple of weeks was happy to be driving them home. My fatal error was bringing the cable I have that connects an ipod to the car stereo. My brother-in-law hooked up his ipad and took control. He’s into, and I mean REALLY into, this reggae band called Midnite. They come from St. Croix, not Jamaica, so that immediately sends up red flags for this Reggae purist and aficionado. Have you heard of “jam” bands like Phish and the Greatful Dead? Well Midnite is basically a reggae jam band. Their songs are like ten minutes long. Supposedly they come out with three albums a year, so much for quality over quantity. My brother-in-law breathlessly exclaims that at the last show he went to in New York they played for four hours straight with only a short break. Uh, no thanks. I’ve never been into that kind of music, so I’m not faulting Midnite fans, it’s just not for me. In any case we all had to listen to how “Rasta to the bone” the lead singer was and other ramblings accompanied by some pretty generic and forgettable riddims. This was at a volume that surely voided any warrantee on the speaker system. I did get turned on to a Reggae artist from Guyana called Natural Black. He’s been around for a while but I never checked him out. He has a nice song called “Life be Same” on the Istanbul Riddim that you can watch on YouTube here.

After that I got to pick up my son and enjoyed a couple of memorable road trips back and forth from the Cape with him. On these drives we got a chance to talk a little about random things that interest twelve-year-old boys. Part of the time was spent educating me* on the new music “gamers” are listening to. They call it DubStep, It sounds a lot like techno to me but I’m just not hip anymore. At least there are no annoying lyrics like you get from pop these days. My son is amused that I’ve become interested in DubStep, and I found out why after reading about it on Wikipedia. Apparently it originated in South London and is derived from “Drum and Bass” and Reggae Dancehall Dj styles. The emphasis is usually on the third beat, just like Reggae, and most DubStep songs include a “bass drop”, which is also employed in many Reggae riddims. My son hates Reggae, and it probably kills him that DubStep is related.

It was sad bringing my son back to my ex’s house after a nice week together; but he had a lot of fun skiing, bowling (the only thing I can beat him at), shooting a shot gun, and exploring the woods with me. He’ll be back for more visits and I’ll get to see his hockey tournament in a couple of weeks too.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year to all!

* Playing his ipod through the car’s speaker system at decibel levels approaching a space shuttle launch.

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Filed under Pop Culture, Uncategorized