Wine Progress

Mango wine has been put on hold. Avid readers may remember that I was keeping twenty pounds of mangoes under my desk, waiting for them to soften. But it’s been a hot week, and my six gallon bucket had blueberries fermenting in it. So I, forward thinker that I am, moved the mangoes to the cellar, where they could keep nice and cool. 20150614_171256_HDR

And something ate them!

I don’t know if was a badger, or a rat, or a man living in the walls, but whoever it is is well nourished now. I’ll have to buy some more when they’re softer in the store and I have a fermenter ready for them. And watch my back when I’m in the cellar.

But it’s not all tragedy on the wine front.

I freed up that 6 gallon bucket of blueberry wine and moved it to a carboy. I also learned from my strawberry adventure that even with the pump, regular old siphoning is a lot easier. Although it does look like an IV drip…


My mead also finally stopped its bubbling, and I moved it to a new carboy. It came up a little short, and I had to top it up with some water, which I hope wasn’t a mistake. That meant I only got to try a tiny bit that was left behind, but I was amazed at how… meady it tasted. Like something I might pay money for and not regret. Which is the goal, I suppose.

I learned my lesson from the sprouting strawberry wine and bought a pair of pantyhose to act as a filter bag for the grapefruit wine I started. I cut off one of the legs, jammed it full of grapefruit segments and zest, and then tied the end off.


Ooh la la.

The other leg is full of dried elderberries, which I ordered online. Apparently they were grown in Norway! I’ve since found a Pick Your Own farm in Connecticut that has them. Maybe I’ll go there and get a feel for what they look like before I start foraging mysterious roadside berries.

Last but not least, I racked the rhubarb out of that horrible Mr. Beer keg which, to its credit, did not leak out of any new places. I was right in resigning myself to no healthy pink blush. I wasn’t anticipating this color, though, which unkind critics might call “dishwater” but I’m choosing to call “pearl.” I’m really curious to see if it settles over time into something transparent.20150615_172143_HDR

Even after filling the carboy so high, there was a lot left over. And wouldn’t you know, it’s palatable! Very tart and crisp. I could see it being a decent summer wine. Which is too bad, because it probably won’t be done until the fall.


A Brewing Operation

I am on a wine kick. I’m not sure where it came from. A year ago my roommate and I made a mostly successful IPA from an ancient graduation gift beer kit. Since then we’ve made two more downright drinkable beers from Brooklyn Brewery kits,20150607_182116 although I think I may have overdone it on the carbonation… Look at that head!

I’ve been itching to make something more homemade, though, and since it’s June, fruit wine seems like a good direction to go. I bought this fabulous 6 gallon carboy off a very nice craigslist man, along with a 6 gallon bucket with a grommeted lid and more supplies than you can shake a stick at, all for $40.20150608_112228

It’s a lot of responsibility, coming up with a wine I can afford and am confident I might like enough to make 5 to 6 gallons of the stuff. I’ve settled on mango wine, mainly because mangoes were on sale and are a heck of a lot cheaper than berries. I will be following this 32-year-old recipe from the Rare Fruit Archives of Australia because it’s the first one I found that sounded doable. And because I like the sound of it.

That will be a separate post, though, as I’m still waiting for the champagne yeast to come in the mail, and I’m typing with my feet drawn up on my chair because there are twenty pounds of mangoes softening in paper grocery bags under my desk. Until then, a quick look around at the operation I’m trying to get going.

No one has lived in the apartment below ours for a year now. 20150607_120427_LLSThis means their basement storage room is unoccupied, apart from all the junk they left behind. Until someone new moves in, I’m appropriating it as my wine cellar! There’s a great, reasonably dark shelf for finished bottles, where I’ve put what’s left of the beer. And another, darker shelf for all that caution tape the neighbors were hoarding…

I’ve also got two wines fermenting20150607_121114 down here already. I brought them out into the light for a photo-op; they’ve been living off to the left of the frame in a dark corner. I’ve read many a forum argument about whether dark is necessary for wine or just an old wives’ tale. The jury appears to be out, but I figure if I’ve got the dark I might as well use it.

The pink fermenter on the right is a strawberry wine. When I transferred it from its primary vessel I had a terrible time separating the liquid from the berry sludge that formed, and now I have a pitifully shallow fermenter that still somehow has a ton of sediment. When I rack it again I’ll have to decide if I make up for the lost space with water or just move it to a half-gallon jug.

The yellow fermenter is mead that I’ll be racking as soon as the bubbling dies down. By the numbers it should be any day now, but the yeast is still going strong.20150607_120859

The bubbles in the airlock have actually formed a very cool honeycomb pattern. For a while I had a half-baked idea that this had something to do with the high honey content. And then I found the same pattern in the strawberry airlock.

And then I realized that idea was ridiculous.