The vast universe of tank air-space also worries me. Every day I spray Private Preserve to protect the wine from oxidizing. But I have no clue how long that blanket of inert gasses will hold.
Impatient, I set up to bottle.
Last time, I filled twenty six bottles. Six months on, I still have twenty. It is not every day you want to guzzle pink colored, banana-strawberry flavored welches with alcohol.
This time I scrounge about for half bottles. A gallon will fill ten 375ml bottles. Hopefully, I can also get rid of some wine as gifts. I mean, gift away my hand-harvested blueberry gold to a deserving few.
Once everything is sterile (including myself), I try racking the wine into bottles alone. I fail. So, I grab my spouse from dinner preparation.I will pump. She will take on the tube’s end, which, annoyingly, will not fill unless pressed at the right angle, under pressure, into the bottle. The siphon trigger cannot work unless against a flat surface, and most bottle punts (bottoms) curve.
So, with wife hating me, we begin.
The must remains hazy. This is annoying. I should have racked again. Maybe filtered. Most Americans view hazy wine as faulty. No one really wants to decant and let the sediment settle for a half hour or more. Conditioned by fast food, year-round strawberries, and driving to our mail box, we want immediate satisfaction. Allowing a wine to rest postpones enjoyment, unbearably for some.But I have to stay true to the fruit. In bottle, a bit of lees (skins) will continue to contribute to the evolution of the wine’s character. Filtering would remove that.
With three regular bottles (750ml) and three splits (375ml) brimming with blueberry, we taste what wine is left.The color is of mild intensity, ruby with a slight haziness. The nose has light intensity of tart cherry, apple, clay and some sulfur. On the palate it is dry, with medium to high acidity, light tannin, light body, short length. Flavors of green and red apple (malic acid), wild strawberry, kiwi and a touch of sulfur slide by the palate in one note.
Decent and drinkable. I should have extracted more color and flavor by not bagging the skins and instead punching them down during fermentation. More time on the lees after fermentation would have also added more complexity. I also should have avoided the temptation to chaptalize (adding sugar to up the alcohol). Stupid internet advice.
Most fruit wines lack acidity and have little shelf life. Thus the blueberry acidity will help the wine age. The hint of sulfur lingers from using too many campden tablets for so little must. My frantic fear of spoilage will help preserve the wine in the long run.
It seems odd that my wine does not taste like blueberries. However, most wines do not taste like grapes. They taste of the process: the added acidities, oak, yeast strains, microxygenation machines, and chemical tweaking. I realize that blueberry “flavored” wines and beers that I have had use blueberry concentrates, distillates, or worse, chemical blends like ethyl safranate, butyl-2-butenoate, and ethyl-3-hydroxybutyrate. Yum!
Regardless, my bottles need corks. Time to give them one last inert gas spray and cork them.
A week later I cap the bottles with remaining foils from my kit. No nibbling mice or bunnies will eat my corks…this time. Some sediment survived the racking, but we could all use a little more patience. Decanting or just pouring slowly would suffice.In the end, going from fruit to ferment to fining to finishing was plain scary. So much more could go wrong compared to kit wine. This was not a sterilized bag-o-juice, chemically balanced to perfection and paired with packets for each step.
With more involvement and knowledge about your source materials, the harder it becomes. Picking the berries by hand forced me to worry about every detail. I had to choose between different berries, yeast strains, cleansers and fining agents. I took it personally when fermentation would not start. I rinsed equipment religiously, until the rotten-egg reek of sulfur went away. I sulked around the house for days concerned about adding sugar, water or acids. Every choice seemed wrong.