Wine-makers’ party and more racking

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Kind of a fun weekend, now that I look back on it.  Friday was a wine-makers’ party at the always-excellent Wine and Whey.  I would normally not have gotten an invitation since I’m such a novice, but since I’ve also been making stuff on my own, and since I’ve developed a friendship with Katrina, I got in with the cool kids.  Also, you can’t say I’m not enthusiastic about my new hobby.  Anyway, it was a fabulous party.  Mom had been planning to join me, but then she was worried about Ginger, who hadn’t eaten all day.  (She seems to be feeling better now, though, thank goodness.)  Jolyon was busy drawing some WWE folks for a comic cover, and Kim’s still out of town, so I wound up solo at this thing, but all was well.  Everyone was really nice, and very welcoming to the newbie.  There was also an amazing collection of wines to sample:

wine party

My modest contribution, the Malbec Kim and I made in class, is towards the back, with the maroon foil.  In front, you can see the chili wine, which I actually quite liked.  I think it was a Cabernet Sauvignon kit that the maker added dried red chilis to during the primary fermentation, so it gave a nice little back-of-the-throat kick.  You can also make out the Sunny Peach Chardonnay with the ink-splash label, which was sweet but surprisingly nice.  It was also a kit, with a packet of peach sweetener added at the end.  I wouldn’t drink that one all day, but I did have a couple small glasses of it.  Also, I was thrilled to meet Steve, co-creator of the fabulous Labelnator, a tool I find indispensable for removing wine labels.  The co-owner of the shop (a huge Dr Who fan whose name I can’t remember to save my life) had made some excellent cheeses for us, and Adam grilled burgers.  (I brought marinated portabellos and kimchi for the vegetarian option.)  There were also lots of nice little pot luck items to share, including an excellent broccoli-and-tofu bake and a great big salad.  I’d brought a pasta salad with garlic scape pesto, too, so there were plenty of things to soak up all that wine.  And there was a board of labels for us to vote on– I’ll have to see what the results were, but of course I voted for our Horse Key ceramic label.  There might have been wine-ranking voting as well, though I’m not sure about that.  All in all, a most excellent and delicious party.

Then on Saturday, I noticed that several of my wines had cleared, so I racked (or re-racked) them.

 reracked wine  The rhubarb is probably quite close to ready for bottling, and is Jolyon’s favorite.  It’s a little sweet and kind of strong, and only tastes faintly of rhubarb, which makes it sound kind of nasty, but it’s really quite pleasant.  The blueberry has mellowed in even just the last few weeks since its previous racking, and I think it might just turn out to be quite nice.  The red currant is still pretty young and harsh, but I hope it will eventually become crisp instead of sort of whooooo!-inducing.  The magic is in the aging, or so I keep hearing.

The cherry was a bit of a conundrum, though.  I have 2 gallons from the fruit wine class, but they have huge sediment deposits.  I racked the one (and still, alas, got lots of the sediment– I really need to get better at this racking gig!) but then was confounded about the other.  It was too much for my half-gallon jug, but if I actually managed to leave the sediment behind (which is really kind of the point), it would be too little for a gallon jug.  So in the end, I left it there, sediment and all.  I may try to figure out what to do with it this weekend.  Maybe I’ll re-rack the first one more carefully and see how much I’m left with.  Or I could just rack the second one into the half-gallon growler and put the overflow in a mason jar.  Really, I think I’m overthinking this.

My crab apple seems to have stopped fermenting altogether, which seems kind of premature.  Not sure if I have a stuck fermentation or what, so just in case, I added a pinch more yeast, and I’ll see how it’s doing tonight.  Interestingly, I also noticed that the dandelion, my first batch ever, still seems to be fermenting!  No wonder it doesn’t seem to be clearing.  I wonder how long it will take.  The mead is still completely un-cleared, too, but I’d read that meads can take a long time.  I don’t mind if those two need more time, but I only have 2 empty gallon-sized growlers (and one each of 3- and 5-gallon carboys) so I’m hoping to bottle a few things soon-ish.  I’m still hoping to do raspberry, Concord grape, and maybe peach this summer, so I do need to get some stuff out of the growlers and into bottles.  I’m also interested in pyment, which is Concord mead, and in raspberry-rhubarb and folly, made from the leaves and tips of the grape vines.  I have some pea pods in the freezer for pea-shuck wine, but that can wait until winter, as can the lavender methoglin, or herb mead.  I guess I probably need more growlers, really, though I bought another at the wine party.  And more space.  Like I said, you can’t say I lack enthusiasm for my new-found hobby.

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