Now the step of clearing the wine lay before me. Last week had let the remnant CO2 bubble away. Windows had been cracked and the sun blocked, freezing my wife, but keeping the wine from jumping into a bacterial outbreak of disaster movie proportions.
Inches of grape must and dead yeast now lay at the bottom of the carboy. Tasty. They needed a proper burial, so I re-racked the wine, halting just before I sucked up the purple elmer’s glue (melted mcdonald’s grimace?) at the bottom.
Annoyingly, yeast corpses and bubbles still persisted. Another racking and stirring was in order. So I reenacted the bathroom scene in Pyscho…
cleansed everything with sulfur, let dry and double checked the specific gravity: 0.997ish…good enough.Once clean and dry, I return the wine to the carboy and begin the stirring. My instructions warn this could take “1 hour to 3 days depending on how much CO2 is present”. Seriously?Luckily the bubbles whisk away after a few hours of intermittent stirring. I immediately switch to my chemical packets before too much oxygen sours the wine.
First up, Sodium Metabisulphite: the gods’ gift to food preservation (n.b. if you get headaches from wine, don’t blame a sulphite allergy, which is as rare as a peanut allergy (a serving of broccoli has more sulphites than a bottle wine anyway). Instead, you either react to the dehydrating effects of alcohol and tannin or the antihistamine inducing cogeners. So eat something, drink less or slower for crying out loud).
With my wine preserved for all time, I switched gears to the fining process. Within mystery packet #5 (what happened to #3 and #4 by the by?) was Kieselsol: a negatively charged silica gel. With the Kieselsol mixed in, I waited a half hour for it to go about negatively charging the yeast cells.
Finally, I squeezed in the Chitosan. This petrollium jelly-like substance comes from crustacean shells (sorry vegetarians). Its positive charge bonds to the negative mess of yeasts and Kieselsol dropping them in clumps to the bottom.
To make sure all this pseudo-chemistry had time to work, I called it a night. A worry lingered however. The instructions advise me to top off the carboy to avoid oxygen turning the wine to vinegar (you might recall that our recently-departed yeasts made CO2, which had kept oxidation at bay). However, watering down the wine or adding another wine sounded like horrible ideas.
“EUREKA”! Instead of squeezing Archimedes down my carboy’s two-inch neck, I went in search of glass marbles to increase my wine’s volume! Hah! Classics does pay! An hour and a few pet and craft stores later, I returned home empty-handed.
Then I realized: “replace the CO2 with…well…CO2”! I took my handy Private Preserve gas-in-a-can (that I used to keep half-drunken bottles fresh) and gassed my carboy and capped the top with the airlock. The next morning, the ladybug of prophecy signaled my success.