Sunday, October 14, 2007

This weekends "rackfest"

A rackfest ?

Yes. It's when I rack everything that's waiting to be racked i.e. removed from one container to another. It's done to remove yeast debris, or maybe fruit pulp and any number of other reasons.

So, what have I racked? Well, one gallon mix of "Canned Strawberry" wine that's been fermenting for about a week - the recipe is from the CJJ Berry/Amateur Winemaker book "Making Wine from Canned and Dried Fruit". It's out of print so you have to dig around to find a copy.

Next, was the 19 litre batch of "Dry Mead" again from a CJJ Berry book, called "First Steps in Winemaking". The first time I tried this recipe, it turned out too "rough" i.e. using a high alcohol yeast isn't necessarily the right approach for a first attempt (despite what you may have been told). That first batch has already been aged for 12 months and is still a bit rough (for rough, take the definition by Ken Schramm in his book "The Compleat Meadmaker", where he explains that high alcohol dry meads often taste like "Listerine" when freshly off the yeast i.e. like bloody mouthwash).

I modified the original recipe by making it with 20% more honey and when it had finished fermenting, I racked it off the yeast and added an additional 2 lb of honey. The idea being that it would then have some residual sweetness, post ferment, and the extra 2lb would replace some of the honey flavour that fermented out. It's worked reasonably well, though it still needs aging, so it's now sitting in 1 gallon "demi johns". It was explained to me that it might not be best to age it in a water cooler bottle, as it was polycarbonate and that's very slightly porous. Which could lead to oxidation of the wine.

Next, I decided to blend the 2 gallons of apple wine I made last year (it didn't go as well as I'd hoped as it was VVV "appley" and excessively sweet/sugary. So I've mixed it with 2 gallons of mead that was quite recently off the yeast and still very rough. The result is that it's made the apple part of the flavour less prominent and the mead part of the flavour less "rough". I'll just leave it in the jars - whether I ever get round to bottling it is a different question!

I also racked the batch of "Joe Mattoli's Orange and Spice Mead". I took a taste, and, well, it's not completely fucking horrible, but I'd certainly say that anyone making this, should only use 1 clove per gallon, or maybe only 1 clove per batch. It's turned out very "clovey". So thats another one racked off, that will probably never get bottled. We'll see.

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