A lifetime has passed since I picked up Vidal Blanc juice, fresh from harvest in New York’s Finger Lakes on October 23rd.
Between then and present, my wine underwent fermentation, fining, cold stabilization, and at least three rackings. Once the wine was clear, last week’s blog post saw me sterilizing bottles for an hour.
I also warmed up another packet of yeast. Why? Because I want to make sparkling wine.
As the dark Dane said, “If it be now, ‘t is not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all”.
We’ve been bottling for three hours. Midnight nears and I am messing up yeast and sugar doses. I label which bottles have more or less.
But we can’t stop. Otherwise, we lose months of work and hundreds of dollars with no wine to drink.
My assistant-extraordinaire retires for the evening. But I have more to do.
I turn off my mini fridge, let it rise to 55 degrees, and then put in the yeast-dosed bottles. The constant, mild temperature and dark will mimic the caverns in Champagne. Yeasts will slowly munch through the sugar dose, meanwhile releasing carbon dioxide into the wine.
Like France’s best bubbly producers, I will turn the bottles daily to keep the yeasts and sugars mixed and active. This process, called riddling, ensures all sugar gets eaten.
But what about my yeasties? They will die but still be in each bottle. I’ll have to keep riddling and figure out how to gradually angle the bottle upwards, so the yeast sinks into the bottle’s neck. After a year of twisting and tipping, I will somehow freeze the tops, pop out the yeast popsicle, and recap my fresh, hopefully clear fizz.
At least I set aside ten bottles of still wine.
With the journey roughly over, I sleep. I will crack open the still vidal blanc next month, once it gets over it’s bottle shock.
Until then, beer sounds fantastic.