Thursday, April 30, 2009

Let Me Clarify That

Did you know that I can make wine? It's true. Last August or so, I became interested in this hobby. I researched cold weather grape vines with plans of starting a vineyard in eastern Montana. I even had a name picked out: Beauty Valley Vintners. There was even a blog devoted to this. It died a rapid death (whereas this one is dying a slow death). The name came from the creek (crick) that runs through our property and I still hope to one day make my small winery a reality, but for now single batches of wine made from purchased concentrate shall have to suffice. My first vintage was a Johannesburg Gewurtztraminer and I have yet to share it with anybody. Let me just say this about that batch of wine: My dreamy Beauty Valley Vintners logo was to start out something along the lines of "bold, dramatic vintages that capture the essence of the prairie and the homestead era of days gone by...crisp herby notes of sagebrush and wheat that will take you back to a place less hurried."The logo has since temporarily changed to "Hey! It tastes and looks like ass, but it only cost me $3.00 a bottle to make." Again, temporary.
In a surprise bold and passionate move, Danish Cowboy purchased me a Christmas gift certificate to start a second batch of wine. I immediately jumped on this and started brewing some Chianti about two or three months ago. I think it has stopped fermenting and so I am on to the clarification process. The reason that I only think it has stopped fermenting is that I broke my hydrometer a few weeks ago and Danish Cowboy is holding me hostage at the Hanging H X and I have yet to replace it. There aren't too many home brew stores in the region and I am growing weary of catalog shopping. And so I continue to live on the edge.
I decided last night that it had sat on the first clarifying agent, bentonite (clay) long enough and started boiling up diatomaceous earth and polysaccharides for clarifying round number two. Winemaking is a fabulous hobby for chemistry geeks like me. You can really get into learning about how positive and negative charges work to pull the yuck out of the wine and cause it to settle at the bottom.
I sterilized the equipment, and "racked" the wine off of the bentonite that had pulled some of the nasties out of solution and caused it to settle on the bottom. Please note the highly scientific and sterile surroundings where I work. Winter boots, hard hats, outdoor camping gear, butter churns, milk separators, athletic tape, etc. It all leads to a product with high integrity.
This is what remains after the racking: wine sludge. I considered pouring this down the drain but realized that Danish Cowboy would have no more surprise moves of home winemaking gift certificate buying if I put bentonite in the sewer. Have you ever played with this stuff? It swells up like nobody's business and I have confidence that this is not the material you want in your drainage and sewage system, unless you enjoy backed up toilets. So I left it sitting on my kitchen floor and told Danish Cowboy that it was his job to dispose of it today. He did buy the gift certificate, after all. What does he expect? I have to say that this second batch of wine seems to be off to a better start. The Gewurtztraminer had this weird cloudy acid thing going on with it and hence my old slogan. However, I think I will be able to change my slogan from "looks and tastes" to just "Hey! It tastes like ass but only cost me $3.00 a bottle to make." Stay tuned -- maybe I will have a wine giveaway in a few weeks after I bottle it. You just never know.

1 comment:

  1. crack me up! i miss you! you are truly talented at your new hobby! if i drank wine...i would so come over for a glass...and all that for $! the new slogan! much better than the first one!