Dandelion wine, secondary ferment

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Over the weekend, my dandelion wine finished its primary ferment, so I transferred it to the carboy for its secondary.  

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I was a little worried about how the siphoning process would go, but it was easy.  The pump was easy to use– a couple pumps and the wine’s flowing from point A to point B.  It was a little slow in this arrangement, with the bucket on the side and the carboy in the sink, so I moved the carboy to the floor and things moved much faster.  In retrospect, I should have put some sort of filter on one end, since even though I was careful, I think a raisin or two got into the secondary jar.  Also in retrospect, I wish I hadn’t thrown the raisins out with the dandelion petals.  They would have been a delicious addition to cookies or a chutney or something.

Here’s the wine in its secondary fermentation carboy.  It looks like unfiltered apple juice to me.  I was hoping for a lovely dandelion yellow, but I suppose that may still happen.

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The best part is that now I can see the fermentation happening and it’s pretty hypnotic.  The whole is swirling and fizzing at the top, and the airlock is bubbling away.  This picture is from right after the siphon, so the lees aren’t visible yet, but they’re definitely visible now: a white-ish layer of sediment on the bottom of the carboy and the overflow jar.  (I used a canning jar with the lid on and the band loose.)

As recommended, I also tasted the wine in this early stage and was quite pleased with the taste.  It’s sprightly and still quite sweet.  I find that I’m a little anxious about how the whole smells now, though, since apparently if it goes vinegary now, I can save it by adding a crushed Campden tablet, waiting 24 hours, and introducing new yeast.  So I find myself standing over the airlock and smelling to see if I can detect a trace of vinegar smell, and then half-convincing myself that I can.  

From here, I wait until it starts to clear.  I have no idea how long that will take– weeks? months?– but apparently the fermentation will slow down and then the clearing will start. At that point, I rack it for the first time, so it doesn’t catch any strange flavors from sitting on the dead yeast.

I really wanted to start a batch of rhubarb next, but I only have the one carboy now, so there’s nowhere to put another batch for the secondary ferment.  I think I’ll pick up another (maybe even two) when I take my country wine class in a couple weeks.  Apparently I should make the rhubarb this month, since later in the year, the stalks are too full of pectin and the wine is hard to clear.  My assorted books have differing opinions on the quality or rhubarb wine, with one saying its only good for blending and another saying it’s quite nice by itself, so I figure there’s nothing for it but to try.

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