For those not following the news, or simply living on the planet Neptune, Tim Tebow (I believe some other members of the Denver Broncos also came) was in town yesterday for a play-off game with the New England Patriots. I think most of the northeastern US came to a grinding halt while everyone hunkered in front of their TVs for the evening to watch the battle of Tom Brady vs God.
But not at Aaronap Cellars! I had some wine to bottle and a lovely assistant to help, so to heck with the game. If you scroll down the blog, you'll notice that I mentioned some experiments with sparkling cranberry wine in my last post. The primary fermentation for the base wines were all completed, so it's time to filter, bottle, add the liqueur de tirage, and get the secondary fermentation underway.
Sounds simple, huh? Well, friends & acquaintances know that nothing is done simply at Aaronap Cellars and this was no different. I didn't have just one cranberry wine, but THREE!
1) Cranberry base made from cranberries and water (2 lbs cranberries/gallon)
2) Cranberry Cider made from cranberries and Carlson Orchards Premium Cider Blend (1 lb/gallon)
3) Cranberry-Niagra made from cranberries and Welch's White Grape Juice (1 lb/gallon)
All the wines were filtered in sequence through coarse, medium, and fine filters until they were polished & crystal clear. And then the fun began...
I had read about an innovative secondary fermentation method that avoids the laborious process of riddling & disgorging during sparkling wine production. To give proper credit, Zac Brown had posted this method on WinePress.US and I really wanted to give it a try. Essentially, I placed 1g of a QA-23 yeast that has been encapsulated in alginate beads (sold as Pro-Restart) in the hollow portion of a plastic champagne cork. A 3/4-inch disk of stainless steel screen (sold as faucet aerator or smoke pipe screens) was then wedged in the top of the cork to hold the yeast beads in place. This was actually harder than it sounds as the screens are pretty stiff, but after some flexing and slow pressure, it was actually possible to push the screens in.
For the liqueur de tirage, I used Coopers carbonation drops (made of ~3 g invert sugar) that are normally used to carbonate beer. I further complicated matters by splitting each batch of wine into half and adding 2 Coopers drops to one half and 4 drops to the other to give a frizzante-style lightly carbonated sparkler and a full-blown carbonated sparkling wine. After the drops were added, each bottle was capped with a yeast-filled cork and covered with wire hood, and then inverted to dissolve the sugar drops and place the wine in contact with the yeast. At the moment, the bottles are sitting in my guest bedroom closet hopefully beginning to undergo the secondary fermentation that produces those lovely "bubbles"
p.s. And in case you're completely out of media touch: Tom Brady won. Actually, not so much as won, but crushed, obliterated, demolished, stunned, bowled over, etc. He even punted for pete's sakes!