“Although hastily done, guiding my vignoles from the Finger Lakes to finish required the daily attentions of an obsessed parent…Now dad goes on vacation, trusting he has done enough and that his kid won’t wreck the carpet again.”
So hopeful. So naive.
Half a year has passed since I bottled my 2010 vignoles. In just fifteen days, I fermented Finger Lakes juice into a wine (writing about it took seven times as long). But a trip to Newport left no time for the wine to settle and clarify through racking. After only two rackings, one sulfuring and filtering: seven gallons were in bottle.
The wine was still hazy. But I was happy with its balance and two percent residual sugar.
Last week, disaster struck. Three of my thirty bottles ejected their corks and contents over three days. I blamed the first explosion on mice. But after cleaning the living room two more times, I had to investigate.
Six months had settled the haze into a film and the wine became clear (above) mostly. But this film contained yeasts, who had survived against what I thought was adequate sulfuring (which kills) and racking (which removes). They had munched away some of the residual sugar. In exchange, they produced CO2. With no where to go, the CO2 integrated into the wine.
So I opened a bottle. As glasses filled, bubbles started to form.
I had made a frizzante. Total wine fail.
And yet, it tasted fine.
Much fruit remains. Some of the residual sugar had turned into a finely integrated froth. Some of the tropical fruit and caramel apple that I tasted in November had turned crisper. Sure musk and bread notes are inching into the fore. Sure the wine gets hazier with each pour. Sure I had already lost 10% of it to flying corks. Yet it survived my rush and is drinkable. Credit belongs to a good vintage and nature’s will.
How to save it?
Luckily, my wife has a serious addiction to bubbly. Not only will she drink my failure (I mean sparkling wine), but thanks to her, we have a small champagne cage mountain. After an hour of twisting and bruised fingers, my wine was saved.
In the end, I learned a good lesson: never make wine. Buy it. Wait. No, I mean be patient and smarter. Get a mini-fridge so you don’t freak out about leaving your wine for a week. Rack it more. Use more sulfur. Whatever you do, don’t rush the process. Otherwise, you’ll be cleaning the carpet, again.