Archive for January, 2010

New Wine, Old Skins

January 25, 2010

The wine is almost finished. The second fermentation is complete and we are now clarifying the wine and waiting for all the sediment to settle. We will bottle the wine within a week or two. We will then have a “new” wine. Actually, we will allow our malbec to sit in the bottle for at least six months before drinking it, though we have already done a little tasting. It is good wine, dry with oak overtones. Yes, we aged it with oak chips. It still has a little yeasty flavor which should disappear while it ages.

I mentioned in my last blog entry that the yeast for making wine occurs naturally on the outside of the grape skins. There are actually two types of yeast. The first variety begins to consume the sugar in the juice immediately after the skins are broken. Within several days, the alcohol level is already around 3% and the alcohol, a byproduct of the yeast consuming the sugar (called “fermentation”), is strong enough to kill this yeast. Then the second variety of yeast “kicks in” and the process of fermentation continues. We used wine yeast that comes in a little packet.

Many first century people preferred flavored wines. Honey was a favorite flavoring. So were cinnamon and cloves. First century folk also watered down their wine, sometimes by as much as fifty or sixty percent. Both fermentations usually took place outside, so at least some of the water evaporated. but maybe they just preferred thinner wine. It certainly helped the wine last longer and cut down on drunkenness, especially when it was consumed for lunch, or for breakfast!

Try this: heat one cup of water and one-half cup of honey until the honey completely dissolves into the water. Then add one bottle of wine. You may also add traditional mulling spices, like a stick of cinnamon, several cloves, lemon zest. Try other spices and herbs. Continue to heat but do not let it come to a boil. Serve at room temperature or, because it is winter, drink it hot.

Enjoy.

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