Forty Four and a Half

winemakingTwo glass carboys, 5 gallons each, have been patiently settling their apple wine contents for several months now. Today, the calendar told us it was time to bottle, so we assembled our gear and invaded the basement.

My perennial advice for anyone interested in wine-making is, you’d better make your peace with dish washing, because you probably spend two minutes washing gear for every one you spend on the actual making of the wine. In this picture, Alice is up to her elbows in soapy water. We wash each bottle, rinse, and then fill it with sanitizer, then put it in the dish-rack to drain.

fillOnce the bottles are clean and sanitized, they need to be filled. We use a very clever siphon gizmo that works well as long as the bottle is lower than the carboy. In this picture, I’m getting the last bit out of the first carboy.

Over the years I’ve learned that the less the wine is exposed to the air, the better the wine will be. So once the bottle is full of wine, it quickly moves to the corking department.

corkingThe corker I use is a hand operated one. I put a sanitized cork in the barrel of the corker, place it over the bottle, and press the handles down hard and steady. The result is amazing, considering how hard it is to pound a cork in without a corker. One very satisfying aspect of this job is to watch the bottles line up in neat rows on the other side of the corking station.

When everything was done, we counted 44 1/2 bottles of new apple cider wine. These will sit for a year or so until they are ready to be uncorked, poured, and enjoyed. This is not to say that some enjoying didn’t happen today. We, of course, taste a sample from each carboy before we bottle, on the off chance that we’re bottling vinegar. Then there are the occasional over-fillings of bottles, whose contents need to be emptied somewhere, so might as well go into a glass. Alice commented this is the only time it is justified to be drinking before noon.

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