Leigh Erwin: A Beginner's Wine Making Journey: Part 16

Cloudy Homemade Wine in Plastic CarboyHey everybody!  Leigh here!  Just checking in with you all to update you on how everything is going in “new home winemaker land” over here!
Last time I caught up with you, my “Pinot Chardonnay” had just finished its primary fermentation, and I was to leave it alone, completely cut off from air, for 2 weeks while it finished up the remaining 30% or so of secondary fermentation that was left to complete.
Well, it was clear to me from looking at the carboy every day that fermentation was progressing along slower and slower, until it didn’t appear to be doing much at all anymore 2 weeks later.  Technically, the fermentation has been extremely slow for a few days prior, but I still wanted to wait the recommended 2 weeks just in case. Due to my schedule, I wasn’t able to rack the wine exactly at the 2 week mark, so I just waited until the next day and racked it on Day 15 instead!
Before getting down to business, I wanted to check the specific gravity of the wine to see where we were at.  I didn’t adjust for temperature this time, but the reading on the wine hydrometer was 0.995.  I recall a similar reading last time I made the Pinot Grigio wine, so I was confident the fermentation had finished up and so I didn’t bother correcting for temperature for this mid-point reading.
Even though I’ve only made one other homemade wine before, this next step felt so easy to me this time around.  I was not as worried as I was last time about “messing things up” and had confidence that I could rack the wine without too much trouble.  I did learn my lesson from last time—I triple checked that the spigot with in the OFF position before I started siphoning 6 gallons of wine into the vessel.  No losses!  Yes!  I technically ended up racking the wine twice, as if you recall, I currently only have one carboy.  First, I had to rack the wine into the sterilized primary fermenter, then I had to thoroughly clean and sterilize the carboy and rack the wine back into that from the primary fermenter.  It was all pretty easy, and I didn’t lose any wine this time!
Now, according to the instructions on the can, I wait 2 months before racking the wine again!  At that time, I may add some clarifying agents if the wine is still not clear enough, but I’ll just play that by ear!
So, what am I going to do while I wait for my homemade wine to do its thing for the next 2 months?  Why, start another batch of wine, of course!
Not wanting to wait 2 months to do something with my wine, I decided to go ahead and buy another winemaking kit and some more equipment and jump right into a new batch of homemade wine!
So, I placed a new order with Homebrewing.org, and lo and behold, it’s being shipped out to me already!  Same day!  Love the fast service!
Wine Making KitAnyway, this time, I purchased the Cellar Craft Showcase Collection: Carmenere Chilean.  So far I’m 3 for 3 in terms of testing out different juices/kits, which is pretty fun if you ask me!  This is going to be the first time I made a red wine, so I’m excited yet a little nervous.  A red?  That’s like, way more steps that I could possibly screw up 😉  haha.  Actually, in all honesty, I’m really excited to make a red wine at home for the first time, and you can count on me sharing every bit of that experience once I get the equipment and start her up.
I also purchased a Liquid Crystal Thermometer, because let’s face it, I’m tired of guessing the temperature of the wine.  True, since it’s in the same location all the time and we keep the ambient temperature relatively constant, the temperature of the room is likely the same temperature of the wine.  However, I like the idea of having that added bit of confidence knowing exactly what temperature my must/wine is at any given time.  I just bought a simple model thermometer for now, but once I upgrade equipment in a few months, I’ll likely get something a little more robust.
Finally, since I only have one carboy and my Pinot Chardonnay is taking up residence in that vessel for the next two months, I obviously need to buy another one!  I do want to upgrade to glass eventually, but with the prospect of moving in a few months (maybe even across country), the lighter my wine making equipment is now, the better.  So, Plastic Carboy With Faucetthis time I purchased another plastic carboy, though I upgraded slightly to the 6 Gallon Carboy with Barbed Faucet.  I really like the idea of siphoning and bottling from the carboy’s faucet, as I think it may be a little cleaner and easier, and it’ll also help me when it comes time to decide what type of wine making equipment I’d like to upgrade to in a few months.
Stay tuned for more new home winemaker adventures, and please feel free to comment if you have suggestions for me, or questions that we can hopefully figure out together!  Cheers!

Leigh ErwinMy name is Leigh Erwin, and I am a brand-spankin’ new home winemaker! E. C. Kraus has asked me to share with you my journey from a first-time dabbler to an accomplished home winemaker. From time to time I’ll be checking in with this blog and reporting my experience with you: the good, bad — and the ugly.