November 24, 2009
A great group of friends went on an excursion down the Ohio River on a beautiful fall day. I might note, there was some pretty good food too.
On a beautiful Sunday in November, a bunch of us grabbed some boats and put in at the Triple Whipple bridge in Rising Sun, IN and canoed down to the Ohio River. First, the Triple Whipple bridge in worth noting...
It is among the most important historic bridges in the country. The Triple Whipple Bridge was built in 1878, and on that alone it is significant, but it is actually the only remaining example utilizing a triple intersection Pratt system.
Not only is this bridge old, it is large! Any 300 foot span dating to before 1900 is very noteworthy. It is not known how many were built in the United States, but the total cannot have been large. The Laughery Creek bridge, therefore, is not only a rare survivor, it is a rare type to begin with.
We canoed from the bridge, down to the Ohio... then across to explore "Split Rock." We took a lunch break and realized that among us, we had some Pinot Noir and another white wine, several cheeses, pineapple/mango chutney on triscuits, crackers with chocolate and chunky peanut butter, hummus and sesame seaweed crackers, fine-assed coffee... and all this before the famed Rabbit Hash BBQ. It was a total river culinary experience. Thanks to Melissa, who made a recent trip to Finlay Market, for providing the most interesting stuff to eat :)
We jumped back in the boats and did a final 7 miles or so into the wind down to Rabbit Hash, KY. The blazing sun and wind in my face got me some chapped lips for the day. At Rabbit Hash, we heard some good music in the General Store, ate some BBQ and headed back across the river. Thank you God... for another great day on earth, with friends!
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November 22, 2009
If you are diligent in tending your wine, you may never experience ozidation. However, if you are like me and tend to experiment a lot, you might have more wine going than you can sometimes keep track of. Don't get me wrong--it's not at all that I put it off... I just have way more obligations than one man should have. As such, while wine generally takes care of itself, sometimes I may check in on it a little later than I should. Meanwhile, perhaps the S02 levels may drop while I'm not looking. But let me be clear, I definitely won't neglect my prize batches.
The reality of the situation is, I keep a cellar that is like a big test tube of experimentation. Tehy say a good winemaker has a lifetime of experience. I believe that. My goal is to pack in more experience in less time to produce a better wine, sooner. So I experiment a lot and log everything.
I have experienced oxidation a time or two. The best way to describe oxidation is to cut up an apple and watch within seconds while it turns brown. There are several facotrs that can contribute to oxidized wine. The two most common are too much headspace in your carboy, or too low of S02 levels in your wine. Be sure to mind these two things, and you may never experience oxidation.
Many people think when a wine has oxidized, its bad. Really, oxidation can be reduced, and in some cases eliminated by the use of powdered skim milk. Mind you, it won't win any awards, but it can become a good, drinkable wine again, reminicent of the base you fermented. That is better than dumping it down a drain. Try this before you dump it.
The procedure is as follows:
- Calculate the amount of wine to be treated, in litres, and for each litre of wine measure out 0.5 gm of powdered skim milk into five (5) mL of cold water. Stir into a solution making sure all the skim milk is dissolved. NOTE: It is important that you use powdered skim milk, not de-creamed whole milk or malted milk/
- Now bring the SO2 level of the wine up to the required amount with respect to the pH.
- Stir the wine vigorously and while it is swirling, add the skim milk solution by making sure that it enters well below the surface of the wine. There may be a bit of foaming, but it will dissipate. Continue to stir the wine to ensure all the skim milk is well distributed. It is important that the skim milk solution enters well below the surface. If you pour it on the surface, little, or nothing, will happen. Once the skim milk is fully distributed, brown curds will develop in the wine and will ultimately settle out.
- Replace the airlock and allow the wine to settle for 2-3 days. Meanwhile, prepare a fining agent for fining the wine.
- After 2-3 days, rack the wine off the oxidase curds into a clean carboy and stir in the fining agent. Allow this to settle for about 10 days, then rack the wine off the lees. Add an airlock. Filter and bottle.
November 01, 2009
A lot of people ask me questions about wine making and it frustrates me that I can't give them a specific answer. The reason is because the answers are not always the same.
Example, "how many apples or how much grapes does it take to make wine?" Or, "how much sugar do I add to my wine?" "What all equipment do I need to make wine?"
I use the leftover apple cider from our cider smash to make 3 gallons of apple/pear wine and at the same time, attempt to answer some of these questions. I also talk a little about acidity in wine, fermenting fruit and how the hydrometer can tell you how much sugar to add to your wine (must).
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