Why, what’s the matter,
That you have such a February face,
So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?
– William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing
No frost, no storm, not even cloudiness. Today was balmy for February, good for being out of doors…or being indoors with plans. So with my daughter and mother-in-law ensconced in my daughter’s bedroom cleaning, I set myself to a cycle of cleaning, sanitizing and racking that lasted most of the day.
Racking And Testing
I started with the Saturn grape wine. It is a lovely pale bronzed red color, with crystalline clarity. I racked the 3 gallon carboy and then measured the specific gravity, finding it at 0.993. It is ready to be bottled, for sure, with no activity for many months. Mainly, it needed off the lees. I will let it go for a couple weeks more before bottling.
I then moved to the next carboy, the 5 gallons of peach wine, American oaked. Last time I tested it, the oak was barely noticeable. It is now noticeable, combining with the peach to a pleasant end. I look forward to it aged and in the bottle! It too is ready for bottling, but I will give it some more time to settle after the racking. The final gravity was found to be 0.994.
Next, after a long delay, was the Mars grape wine, a 3 gallon carboy which needed racking off the oak. It is a dark red, clear and pretty. The Hungarian oak is detectable, but more recongizable is the sharpness that aging should dull. As with both the others, this is ready for bottling, after some time to settle after this racking. Final gravity was measured at 0.994.
Then I moved to the last carboy, the 3 gallons of Blackberry wine. This, too, is ready for bottling with a gravity of 0.995 and no activity for many months. The color is a dark red, darker than the Mars, that is translucent in small amounts, but quickly becomes opaque in bulk. The flavor is nice enough, but the tartness needs some mellowing. It is without doubt blackberry and unlike some fruits, which leave the end wine very dissimilar from the original fruit, this is remarkably fruit-like in the mouth.
Lastly I tested the quite aged Blueberry melomel and wine (each a single gallon). The wine delivered a 1.005 SG, and the melomel a 1.003, holding firm since December despite the semblance of some bubbles in January. These don’t need racking at all at this point, just bottling. But that is a task for another night.
But once in the groove, I decided I might as well start the mead I’d had on my mind. I’d chosen a medium show mead this time, and picked up some fruit (red grapefruit, red pears, cherries) for secondary while picking up sandwich fixings for the week. I took a 12 lb. jug of “Bakery” honey – very tasty, and described to me as sourced from bees pollinating pepper plant fields – and emptied it into my fermentation bucket. I used some water to thin out the remaining honey until all the honey was gone, emptying this bubbly mix into the bucket as well. In total, I added enough water to make just under 5.5 gallons (f0r a 5 gallon batch) , just a little over 4 gallons of water.
With honey and water in place I added 2 tsp. each of yeast energizer and nutrient. Then I just let it sit while the family ate dinner, a wonderful Italian Sausage and Cabbage soup I made. After dinner was done, I rehydrated my ten grams (two packets) of Lalvin D-47 yeast and pitched to the fermentation bucket.
Over all, a busy day. Lots for the future, as I have 16 gallons of wine to be bottled in the near- to mid- future. And it was nice to finally get movement on some of my older items, the table grape wines, the peach, the blackberry and last year’s blueberries. Which reminds me: I still have table grapes (Venus) in the freezer I haven’t gotten to yet. I probably should do something about that before summer hits!