Friday, September 24, 2010

End of red wine pulp fermentation and bottling of rhubarb wine

Two days ago, the red wine had been pulp fermenting for a full week. It became time to strain off the liquid from the pulp. At the same time we bottled the rhubarb wine that had been clearing for a few months, now.

Red wine after one week of pulp fermentation.

We'll start off with the red wine. One of the local wine makers brought along this:

Weapon of choice -- an old clothesdryer.

It's an old clothes dryer! The mixture of pulp and liquid goes in the cloth, one small bucket at a time.

Feeding it.

The lid closes and the pulp gets whizzed dry. The cloth makes it easy to remove the pulp after it has been drained.

Let it flow.

We got a total of 9 liters of wine from the pulp. Sugar was added to reach the required alcohol level. The juice only had roughly half of the required sugar, with a density of 1055 g/l. The wine has continued fermenting for two days now. I'm really excited about how this first red wine will turn out!

Now, on to the rhubarb wine. First some backstory. I started making wine three years ago as part of a school assignment ('do something interesting for the chemistry course') together with a friend (fellow student). Given that we didn't have grapes back then, we used what we could find: rhubarb.

The wine we made then was pretty awefull. It was made with rhubarb harvested in late September, which had lots of oxalic acid (you should harvest before mid July). Even after diluting it with water it still had a very acidic taste (somehow we also ended up with more acid in the final product then was calculated and measured before -- the hell?).

When bottled, there was some improvement as the oxalic acid settled down at the bottom. This also made the wine much more clear (we had to rush it for the assignment and didn't have enough time to let it clear on its own). There is, however, a thick 'sediment' of white slimy oxalic acid in the bottom of every bottle now. Real nasty to drink, and it will screw up you kidneys too.

Anyway, we would not let that same mistake happen again with our second rhubarb wine -- so we thought.

The wine had been clearing nicely and was much clearer than the previous wine when we bottled it. It also had a better aroma (after literally having smelled like crap after fermentation -- we gave it some air when siphoning and that seemed to have helped).

First of, and with the help of our local wine maker, we filtered the wine.

Right front to left back: the pump and filter, a receiving bucket, the carboy that contained the wine, a kettle for pasteurisation.

After filtering it was pasteurized for 20 minutes at 50 degrees C and put in the bottles while still hot.

Bottle as it is being filled.

Corks were put in and the bottles were left standing upright to cool down overnight.

Bottle in foreground, machine to put in the corks in the back (forgot to make an in-focus shot of it -- d'oh)

Yesterday, I had a taste of the final left over that couldn't fill an entire bottle anymore. There are some interesting (nasty) conclusions: The acid. It's back >_<.

The wine wasn't as clear as it was before bottling and tasted worse. I'm hoping this is only because that left over came from the bottom of the kettle (where the oxalic acid accumulates). However, I'm afraid that while moving the carboy around, the settlements at the bottom got stirred around (FUCK!).

Let's hope the other bottles aren't affected. And should they be, let's hope the acid settles down again and things clear up once more.
Also, let's just hope our vines grow more rapidly so that we don't have to screw around with rhubarb any longer!

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