Strawberry Wine Forever

Back in May I started 5 gallons of strawberry wine. It’s September now, which means it’s time to bottle!

Actually according to my post-it, I should have bottled back in July. But a little extra ageing never hurt anybody.


I siphoned all the wine into my huge bucket. I had hoped that using extra strawberries during fermentation would leave some residual sweetness, but I hoped wrong. It was extremely dry.


I like sweet wine, and I think the strawberry really benefits from the sweetness, so I mixed up some honey in warm water and added it as the wine was siphoning.


I put in 5 Campden tablets and 2 1/2 tsp potassium sorbate to keep the yeast from going after the new sugar source.


With a bucket full of wine, I started bottling.


My parents drink more than I do (though that’s not saying much), and they diligently save their empty bottles for me. I like the motley look.


The bottles full, it was time to cork. Technically, I have a corker. In the strictly legal definition of the word, I do. It is, however, terrible. With one hand you have to squeeze two handles together to compress the cork, and with the other you have to press down on a lever to drive it into the bottle. All while not shooting your open bottle of wine off across the room. I tried to use it myself. I really did, and I just didn’t have the strength. My roommate Will stepped up to the plate and just barely managed it. What a man!

My birthday’s coming up, and I think I know what to ask for.


It was a real struggle, but we got there in the end with 8 regular bottles and 8 double-wides. I’ll have to order up some new labels.


I think I’ll call it Uncle Beth’s Fancy-Ass Wine

Strawberry and Rhubarb Wines

No, not strawberry rhubarb wine. Though there’s an idea…

I’m making strawberry wine and I’m also making rhubarb wine. Both of these wines hold the hallowed title of Good Enough to Do Again. These were two of my earliest and roughest attempts at wine making, but somehow they turned out the best.


Last year’s rhubarb wine did not inspire confidence at first. It looked like dishwater and tasted pretty strange. But recently a bottle of it worked its way into the fridge, and I was as surprised as anyone to find that it tasted really good. Everyone says that ageing wine improves it, but I’ve always been dubious. What could possibly be going on in that bottle? But I’ve been at this long enough that some of my bottles are starting to reach the 1 year mark, now, and I have to admit to seeing a difference. (At least with the rhubarb. The bottle of last year’s blueberry I opened seems to have spoiled).


So I’m back at it! The rhubarb is mostly from my parents’ garden, with a little supplemented from our community garden. I followed this recipe scaled down to one gallon.


The strawberry wine I did not scale down. Last summer I made two separate gallon batches that were rousing successes, so I decided to shoot for 5 gallons this time. Sticking to my cheap guns, I bought these bargain berries at the bulk supply store. Maybe I’ll do a smaller batch with real local berries and conduct a dispiriting taste test.


I sanitized my biggest bucket and lined it with a nylon cloth. My first strawberry wine had a lot of debris in it and actually started to sprout. Not this time!


Berry by berry I removed the hulls and quartered the fruit. All 18 pounds of it. The recipe I’m following recommends 12.5 pounds for a dry wine and 25 pounds for a dessert wine. My past recipes have been light on fruit and then backsweetened with honey. This time I’ve upped the fruit and sugar and am hoping for a natural residual sweetness.


The berries cut, I barely covered them with water and added a dash of wine tannin, a healthy dose of pectic enzyme, and 1/4 teaspoon of sodium metabisulfite. I draped a towel over the bucket and left it in the closet overnight. During that period the pectic enzyme and water started to break down the fruit and the sodium metabisulfite sanitized it. At least that’s what I’m told.


By the next night the pectic enzyme had certainly gotten to work. The berries were already limp and pale and the water had become a thick juice.


I added water up to the 6 gallon line, and then I went sugar crazy. I checked the gravity after mixing in what felt like an unholy amount of the stuff – it was right around 1.060. My recipe recommended 1.078 for dry and 1.100 for dessert, so either way I had to keep going.


In the end I used one entire 10 lb. bag of sugar on the nose. This brought my gravity to just under 1.100, or a tiny bit less sweet than dessert wine.


Finally I added 5 teaspoons of yeast nutrient and a 5 gram packet of champagne yeast. I covered it loosely with the bucket lid and pushed it to the back of the closet. By the next day it was bubbling vigorously and giving the bedroom a very distinctive smell.


I gave the fermentation exactly a week, stirring and prodding the fruit bag a couple times a day. Once the bubbling started to slow (and I found someone big to lift the bucket up onto the counter for me) I racked it into a five gallon carboy.


The nylon bag was a lifesaver. I’ve fought some vicious battles with fruit pulp in my time, but the bag just lifted straight out. That being said, a week’s fermentation didn’t leave much inside it. What had been a huge volume of fruit got condensed down to little chunks of seeds and fibers. Strawberries, it turns out, are mostly water.


Since the strawberries added more than I was expecting to the liquid, I actually collected 6 gallons of wine instead of 5. I filled the big carboy completely with free runnings and a 1 gallon jug with juice squeezed directly from the nylon bag… into an unsanitized bowl. Because I am a fool. I hadn’t been planning on squeezing juice from the bag, so I’d just plopped it in any old bowl. Thank the lord the 5 gallon filled up before I had the chance to fill it with rogue bowl microbes. As it stands I may have contaminated that extra gallon, but it was a bonus gallon anyway. And I may get lucky. We’ll just have to wait and see.


All told I have some beautiful colors. The two on the left are strawberry, already producing some impressive sediment, nylon bag or no. The one on the right is rhubarb, basically sediment-free and a fantastic shade of pink.


Maybe I’ll serve the two together and let people make their own strawberry/rhubarb.

Lilac Wine

The lilacs are in full bloom in Providence.

I never realized how many lilac bushes were around until I started looking for them, but it seems like they’re everywhere. I stumbled across this recipe last summer, long after I’d missed my chance. I’m timing it right this time.


I considered trawling the city and snipping blossoms here and there from people’s yards. They’re usually drooping over the sidewalk, and who would miss a few flowers? That’s more sneaking than I’m used to, and with a recipe that calls for nearly a gallon of blossoms, that’s a lot of trooping around.

Luckily the community garden has a huge lilac bush that I felt much easier about taking from. My fellow beekeeper Kim actually started it in a pot in her kitchen 12 years ago. It’s come a long way since then. And since our garden is organic (and I did find the odd worm picking through the flowers) I feel reasonably confident that I won’t be making pesticide wine.


I didn’t want to clean out the bush of its flowers, so I spread my harvesting over two and a half trips, trying to take only the most open sprays. This is one harvest’s worth, bunched together into a super spray.


The thing about lilacs is that its sprays are actually made up of scores of tiny individual flowers. I became intimately aware of this fact as I pulled each and every one off of its stem.


I have gazed into the abyss, and it smells amazing.


After destemming my first day’s flowers, I sealed the bag and put it in the freezer to keep them from wilting.

This worked better than I could have hoped. They kept their shape and (mostly) their color. They look like they belong on top of a cake.


A few days later I repeated the process and may have made a huge mistake. Instead of starting a new bag, I just threw my fresh flowers on top of my old frozen ones. An hour out of the freezer and in my lap did the frozen flowers no favors – they thawed into a nasty brown mass.

All the flowers here are frozen – can you tell which are from the first day and which are from the second?


The brown flowers notwithstanding, they really were beautiful. I was worried the brown ones would spoil the whole batch, but I didn’t have enough volume without them and I was so sick of destemming sprays by this point. I reasoned with myself that all the flowers would lose their color once they thawed, and these had just had a head start. Against my own better judgment I used both brown and purple flowers.

Sometimes it doesn’t feel like a real project unless I’m needlessly jeopardizing the whole thing.

I boiled 7 pints of water and dumped it over the flowers to make a lilac “tea.” I’ve found a few recipes for lilac wine, and they all recommend letting this tea sit for 48 hours. I’ve also found quite a few comments on these recipes complaining that 48 hours of sitting turned their lilac tea to rotten mush. I can believe it – two days is a long time to leave wet flowers in the dark. I gave my tea 24 hours and called that more than enough time. How strong does this tea need to be, anyway?


I was happy to see that most of the flowers had turned brown, but a little unnerved that all of them hadn’t…


I ran my tea through a sieve to separate liquid from solid. Is the tea purple? Lord no. It’s an amber color that looks, for lack of a better word, like tea.


I put my tea in a fermentation bucket and added everything but the yeast. This included a crushed Campden tablet that would sterilize the must over the course of another 24 hours. I also added a teaspoon of yeast nutrient and enough sugar for my hydrometer to read 1.160. I was just a little short on sugar and made up for it in honey. This is the first wine I’ve made by adjusting the sugar to the correct amount instead of blindly adding the number of cups the recipe calls for.

It only took me a year of winemaking to get my act together.

What I don’t have, however, is a way to measure acidity. Some recipes call for 2 lemons’ worth of juice, while others call for 2 tablespoons of juice, the equivalent of about half a lemon. Remembering the horrible astringency of my cucumber wine, I erred on the tablespoon side of things.

I hope I made the right call.


I mixed all these ingredients together and let them sit under a towel. After 24 hours I sprinkled a 5 gram package of Champagne yeast over the surface and replaced the towel.


The next morning I gave the must a good stir and was met with bubbles. Fermentation is definitely under way. The color is still brown but not un-purple. I’d call it a mauve.

More importantly, it smells wonderful. I gave it just a splash of honey, but it’s really coming through. Besides that, it has a floral scent that’s surprisingly delicate and is blending really well with that classic fermentation smell. I have very high hopes.


Since I’ll have to wait a whole year to make this again if it’s any good, I might have to strike while the iron’s hot and snatch up enough flowers for another batch.


Maybe pay the neighbors’ gardens a visit…

Uncle Beth’s Home Grown Mead

Last November Kim and I started a gallon of mead with our bees’ honey. Since then I’ve been racking it occasionally but mostly forgetting about it. I discovered it again recently and declared it ready to bottle.

It was, like everything I make, extremely dry and boozy, so I back sweetened it with 1/4 cup of honey. Booziness aside, I’m very happy with it. It’s so different from the store honey mead and, dare I say it, better. I’d say it tastes richer and has a stronger honey base. There’s also a lot less of it. I’ve been free with the 5 gallon batch of mead, taking it to parties and pawning it off on friends, because 5 gallons is a lot to have of anything. One gallon, on the other hand, filled just 11 beer bottles. Beer bottles are perfect for gallon batches, because they can be portioned out more slowly.

They’re also perfect for my small homemade labels. Technically this was the prototype for the official label, but I think I like it more.


Uncle Beth’s Old Fashioned Mead

It’s about time I had some good mead news.

My first big batch leaked all over the floor, and I was too depressed and sticky to even write about it. My second batch started out strong, but then it just kept getting stronger and bubbled longer than it had any right to.

But this batch… is still the second batch. It’s the same mead, hastily thrown into four separate containers to try to stop fermentation because I didn’t know what else to do. But here’s the thing:

It’s actually good!


I’d been dreading opening up these fermenters, and I put it off for a few months. This may actually have been the best thing I could have done. All the mead makers I’ve talked to have said the same thing – if you don’t like it now, just forget about it for a while.


Tommy was visiting from Texas, which got me inspired. He’s always up for some good blog fodder. We hauled up the mead and gave it a taste. It was outrageously boozy – everything I make is. I need to get a better handle on the fermentation process so I can stop warning people not to pour a full glass every time they open a bottle of wine.


Five gallons of mead is a heck of a lot of mead. My parents have been stockpiling bottles, though, and handing them off every time they see me. It felt excessive until I actually needed them. I was especially grateful for the big double wide bottles, because they gave us extra time to think between fillings.


The corking was a bit of a pain. The corker is inherited from my dad’s wine making days and is made of plastic older than I am. You have to press with all your strength for it to work, but I’m worried all my strength will snap it in half. Some corks didn’t make it as far as others and had to be redone later.


When all was said and done, we had 10 normal bottles and 7 double sized bottles. I’d painstakingly removed the labels from a few, but when the mead kept flowing we had to break out the reserves. I gave some away before I had a chance to scrub their labels off, but the ones I kept got cleaned up to make way for… wait for it…


Uncle Beth’s Old Fashioned Mead. Ben designed it, and I’m very happy with how it turned out. My dad’s always had a mustache, and I’m carrying on the tradition. The labels were printed by Bottle Mark and came extremely fast. I’m not sure I’m wild about the red, but for a first run I think it’s great.


And it feels a heck of a lot more professional than ball point pen on stickers.


When Good Mead Goes Bad

Die-hard fans may remember that I started a five gallon batch of mead back on October 30th, also known as three months ago. Well… it’s still bubbling. I don’t think it should still be bubbling.


There’s not much airlock activity, but there’s a constant flow of tiny bubbles travelling up the side of the carboy, like in a glass of champagne. Something is clearly still happening in there.

I racked this mead away from the lees right before Thanksgiving, but I’m wondering now if enough yeast is still present to keep the fermentation going past its welcome. I hope so, because the other option is that something strange has started growing in there.


That theory really has me worried, because recently some little guys have appeared on the surface. Is it mold? I don’t know, but the prospect of five gallons of honey vinegar is more than I can bear. I can’t bottle the stuff while it’s still bubbling, but it can’t stay here.

Because the universe is an uncaring place, I don’t have any other five gallon carboys. There’s a spare six-gallon kicking around, but that would leave too much headspace. What I do have are three one gallon jugs and a two gallon bucket. They’ll have to do.


For the job I have a brand new long auto siphon and, to go with it, some horrible old kinked tubing. It turns out it’s all I have that will fit the cool new siphon. And since I have no hope of lifting this carboy up off the ground, I have to pump it all manually. The result is an intermittent jet stream through a tube that fluctuates between wide open and barely passable. This is not ideal.


To call it oxidizing would be an insult to understatements.


The sheer volume of bubbles I’m pumping to this mead makes the danger of an extra gallon of headspace seem stupid. But I’m committed, so I soldier on. I finally get all five gallons into their new containers in a very poorly lit corner of the basement. Only time will tell if they keep on bubbling or grow new strange lumps or do something else worrying. At least now they’re split into four samples that may behave differently from each other.


Once everything is safely stowed away, I actually taste the stuff. I should probably have done this first, but once the racking fever took me I couldn’t stop. All that’s left are the dregs that got awfully yeasty on the trip up the stairs, but even so I’d give the flavor a confident rating of Not Bad. It’s strong, but not vinegary. Given a little time to settle and, God willing, quit fermenting, I think it could still be good.

I just hope all that oxidation doesn’t ruin it.



Home Grown Mead

Ever since we harvested the first batch of honey in August, I’ve had three pounds of the stuff in my kitchen cupboard.

But no more!

Kim and I finally got into gear and started fermenting it into honey. And Omar, my cat, started modelling it.


We set the honey jar in a warm bath for a few minutes to get it flowing. Even warmed up, it didn’t exactly rush through the funnel.


This gave us plenty of time for photo ops.


I’d put a few inches of water in the bottom of the jug to begin with, hoping that it would keep the honey from sticking to the bottom. Honey, it turns out, is a lot denser than water. It sank straight to the bottom. Maybe a couple hardy water molecules stuck to the bottom…


Before the jug was completely full, I gave it a good shake. I missed getting to do this when I did the five gallon batch. This process both mixes the honey and water together and aerates the must.


I got really into it.


And I may have aerated too vigorously.


With all those bubbles, the primed yeast and nutrient didn’t have much space. I’m having bad flashbacks to my raspberry melomel…


Despite some cramped quarters, the mead is a beautiful color. I’ll have to keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t blow its lid.


Mead Take Two

As avid readers may know, the20151028_171114_HDR last time I tried to make mead in bulk, it wound up inches deep on my basement floor. I could have been drinking it right now…

It took me a while to grieve, but I’m finally ready to give it another shot. I am, as always, using the cheapest honey I can find. These handsome three pound bottles came from the bulk store and cost $8 apiece. As you can see, I bought so many they let me keep the box.

The rule of thumb I’ve discovered is that three pounds of honey makes for one gallon of mead. It was six gallons I lost to the honey gods last time, but on this pass I’m going to do a modest five. One of Ben’s birthday expansions was a new five gallon carboy I want to use, and this sixth bottle I’m saving for a strawberry melomel I’ve got in mind.

So that means a paltry five bottles, or fifteen pounds, of honey. That’s heavier than my cat, and he’s fat!

There are very different schools of thought on whether or not to boil honey before fermenting it. Lots of people, including the author of my mead book, believe that you should for sanitation purposes. Plenty of purists are horrified at the thought, because being unheated is what makes raw honey so special and so much better for you. Since my honey was delivered on a pallet and was most assuredly boiled at some point, I’m not too worried about that. Purists of a different sort, however, insist that honey doesn’t need to be boiled because microbes can’t survive in it and it’s essentially sterilized from the moment it comes out of the bee. This school of thought requires less work, so I’m inclined to go with it. All I did was submerge the bottles in a warm bath for a few minutes to get the honey flowing at a rate that wasn’t maddening.


Weight was a big consideration working with five gallons of liquid. I can carry my one gallon batches up and down the stairs all day, but five gallons is a different animal. Not only do I not think I could carry that much mead down two flights of stairs, I would never want to. Just the thought of losing another huge batch, this time on the stairs, brings tears to my eyes. But my basement is dark and scary and the sink, while existent, is far from sanitary. I split the difference and did as much work upstairs as I thought I could manage – two gallons of water and all fifteen pounds of honey. It was heavy going on the starirs, and visions of the bucket’s handle breaking flashed before my eyes, but I made it.


The warm bath worked like a charm, and the honey flowed right out.


Once each bottle was empty, I ran a little bit of water into it, shook it like there was no tomorrow, and added it to the bucket. This caught a lot of that pesky honey clinging to the walls and, I hope, really oxygenated the must.


I wrangled the bucket down to the set of Saw VII and added the final gallon and change of water. I mixed the honey and water like crazy, added two packets of rehydrated yeast, secured the lid and airlock, and left it to work its magic.


Now it just has to pass the next couple months not on the floor, and we’re in business!

Wine Made Out Of Grapes

John Lennon and I have the same birthday. 20151003_114718

He would’ve turned 75 last week. I turned 27. I don’t know what Yoko would have gotten him, but Ben got me a big pile of grapes.

We went to the beer and wine supply store across town. Actually I walked around the neighborhood and pretended not to know what was going on while Ben got bombarded with advice from the old regulars. In the end he got me more and bigger carboys so I can up production, and we were sent down the road to a warehouse where the owner of the store was dolling out grapes.

This guy gets outrageous shipments of grapes and pre-pressed juice from California and Europe, and sells them to every old Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish guy in the city who has a few extra thousand to spend. I actually watched a man drop upwards of two-thousand dollars on juice. When we told the owner we wanted a single case of grapes, he shook both our hands, called us the customers of the day, and brought the grapes out himself. I suspect he may have been making fun of us. He was very good-natured about it, though.20151004_165255

One case proved to be more than enough. They’re Merlot, specially picked because they were the only whole grapes left. The real business seems to be in juice, because the average customer is in it for next year’s wine supply and not the authenticity of the experience. A very friendly man named Johnny explained his juice-filled SUV to me by working out the ultimate cost to three dollars a bottle. My bottles are going to be considerably more valuable when I factor in all the man-hours it took to separate the things from their stems. I’m smiling here, but by the time I was finished I was so sick of grapes.

Once the grapes were in the bucket and the walls and floors were de-stickified, It was time to smash. Everyone I talked to wanted me to do the old-fashioned foot method. I did consider it, but in the end I went with tried and true hands.   20151004_192535

I mixed in some sodium metabisulfite and left it overnight to sanitize. The next day I added yeast, yeast nutrient, and a little sugar. I got pretty hung up on the sugar, since I have yet to find a good way to use the hydrometer. The whole point of the thing is to let it float free in the juice to measure the buoyancy and, therefore, the sugar content. I tried putting it straight in the bucket, but it was so full of grape skins I may as well have been sticking it in jello. I tried extracting some juice into the hydrometer’s cylindrical container, but it’s so narrow that any amount of sediment (of which there was a lot) can jam or buoy the hydrometer, making it impossible to read. I tried a champagne flute, but it was too shallow and too wide. In the end I got some semblance of a reading and looked up the amount of sugar it should take to raise the specific gravity to a suitable number. I threw in exactly that amount and washed my hands of the whole thing. There must be a better way.

I let the grapes ferment for a few days, punching down the skins about three times a day. That’s an aspect I’m not used to – the bubbling of the fermentation pushes the solid elements up, creating a cap that has to be pushed back down.

Finally it was time to rack to the carboys. It’s important, at this point, to press your grapes, getting all that good juice out. I priced wine presses, and they range from $80 to higher numbers I also can’t afford. I did a stripped down and maybe not kosher version in which I poured my grape goop into a bucket lined with a nylon sack, as you can see here. A birthday cake was being made on the table, so I was relegated to the corner with the cat toys. Don’t tell the health department.


Two types of wine come out of the pressing process: free-run and pressed. Free-run is the already flowing liquid that doesn’t need to be released by the press. In this case, it’s what dripped straight through the sack when I lifted it out of the bucket.


With some careful juggling and a lot of splashing, I got an easy gallon of free-run juice, which I moved to a carboy and set aside.


After that came the “pressing,” an awkward job of hefting a huge sack of grapes in one hand and massaging it with the other against the side of a too-small bucket braced between my feet. I’m not sure this is how they do it in Napa Valley.


My unorthodox method got me another easy gallon of juice, with some more still in the sack. If I’d really pressed, I would have gotten a decent amount more juice. But I only had two carboys on hand, and no effective way to press, anyway. So I left it at two gallons. One is all free-run, one is lightly pressed, and I have no idea from this picture which is which. Free-run is supposed to be lighter and less tanniny, so we’ll see at the next racking if I can tell the difference by taste.


Of course I have them labeled on the other side of the jugs. If I identified all my wines by taste I’d be in trouble, since nothing ever comes out tasting like what I put in.

I Have So Much Wine

Today is all about dark wine. It wasn’t meant to be, but completely by accident all my dark, autumnal-looking wines were due to be racked at roughly the same time. Which is good, because they all catch the autumn light in such a way it’s a shame they live in the basement. I’ve read that exposure to light can give wine off flavors. I’m not sure off flavors are a real concern for someone at my level, so I may consider relocation. It would be the most roundabout stained glass in town.

Then again, sunlight beating down on my wine might heat it up to an uncomfortable extent. This may be a sight that comes only every month or two. It’s more special that way. From left to right we have Raspberry Melomel, Elderberry Wine, Plum Wine, and Strawberry Wine. “Melomel” is the beautiful old fashioned-sounding term for mead flavored with fruit. The even older fashioned-sounding “metheglin” is mead flavored with herbs or spices. If I learn the professional language, I’m one step closer to being a professional myself. Right?

Speaking of metheglin, I racked my lavender metheglin last week, and it received rave reviews. It’s incredibly strong (I’m still getting the hang of the hydrometer) but the little bit I tried tasted lovely, especially with a little honey mixed in. One of my roommates said it reminded him of Viking’s Blod, a household favorite mead, so I took it as the highest of compliments. Viking’s Blod don’t come cheap, so I’d dearly love to be able to replicate it. The recipes I’ve found involve hibiscus, not lavender, so I may need to explore the world of flower-flavored metheglins.

But enough about future projects. In the here and now, I’m still racking this elderberry wine which, as you may remember, tasted like vinegar back in July. I sure remember. I’m still dutifully racking it every month in the hopes that it will, as the recipe suggests, improve with age.


And as far as my monthly notes are concerned, my hopes are not unwarranted. In July this wine was “…Not good” and I was “hoping for an ageing miracle.” In August another ellipsis introduced an incredulous “…getting better?” Now, in September, I swear it was downright close to drinkable. It tastes and looks to me like a very dry red wine. Is this stuff actually improving, or is my palate getting more and more accustomed to dubious homemade fruit wine? The latter is almost definitely true, but I’m hoping the former is a little bit true, too. We’ll see.

I also racked a mulberry melomel that had been fermenting in a bucket for a few weeks. True to form, I’m following a half-remembered friend-of-a-friend forum post recipe and hoping for the best. In a departure from my usual methods, I soaked the berries and sugar in water overnight and added the resulting strained and simmered juice to the honey and more water. After it had cooled, I combined it with raisins and yeast and let it sit in an air-locked bucket for two weeks. I opened it up to find some very alcoholic reconstituted grapes floating on a sea of hooch. I have got to get my alcohol content under control before I go blind.


Despite its potency, the mulberry melomel is really delicious. It has a light mulberry flavor with a strong honey base. And its color is fantastic. It reminds me of freshly pressed cider and has an opacity to it that I hope doesn’t disappear. So far I haven’t made a mead I don’t like. The honey makes for such a warm background to other flavors that it avoids that astringency I tend to get in straight fruit wines. Once winter kicks in and the fresh fruit is from California, meads brewed with dried herbs and spices might be just the thing.


I counted, and I have eleven and a half gallons of wine sitting in my basement. None of it’s ready yet, but in a few months’ time my apartment may have to have a serious Bacchanal.