Despite the crazy schedule we have been keeping, there has been progress on our two batches of wine. I scooped the fruit off the top of both pots, then scooped the stuff that floated up with the activity of the yeast. This afternoon we racked* each stainless steel pot into a glass carboy. There is typically lots of sediment from the yeast consuming the sugar and multiplying which has to be removed for the process to continue without odd flavors developing.
We began with the currant wine, presently a very bright purplish-red. There is quite a bit of sugar in this batch as the berries are very tart. The yeast did nothing for three days, so I added another packet of yeast. Well, by the next day it was obviously active, lifting the fruit to the lid of the pot before each punch down. Since the carboy we put this in is six gallons, vs. the five of the stainless steel pot, we needed to make a decision what to add to the carboy to make up the difference and fill the carboy. Too much air in the container allows oxidation, which we want to avoid. We had six cups of frozen cranberries that went into a gallon of boiling water to pop them and extract the juice. Once the skins and seeds were skimmed off we added five cups of sugar and cooled it down in an ice bath in the sink. When room temperature, so we wouldn’t kill the yeast, we added it to the carboy; just right, it is now full. The cranberries were a necessary addition, a compromise since there weren’t any currants left to juice and add.
The strawberry wine looks like tomato juice that foams a bit on top. I have read that it will eventually be ‘straw colored’, but I will do my best to retain as much color as possible. We used a strainer to catch as much of the strawberry pulp as we could to ensure the tiny seeds would not add to the bitterness of the wine. Since this carboy is five gallons, just as the stainless pot is, there wasn’t extra room requiring filling. We will watch the wine and rack it again as soon as it has a deep pile of sediment at the bottom since it is really cloudy right now.
Just as too much air in the carboy is damaging to the fermenting wine, so it is light. Glass carboys in our bright bathroom need to be covered. I clip a couple of towels right up to the top. I can still peak in at the bottom to see how deep the sediment is without disturbing anything.
*To rack wine is to move the wine off of the sediment at the bottom of the container.