Two Bees Wine

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

First racking...

Anthony bought a pump which turned out to be a fantastic gizmo for the task of racking. It looks like it could motorize all sorts of other projects – a go-cart perhaps, or a school science exhibit. At first the purchase seemed like folly: couldn’t we borrow one?

But we fed one side of the clear tubing through the bung hole of our barrel, which we rolled on its gurney out the patio door in case of spillage. We fit the other end of the hose to the machine, which was perched precariously on a hutch. Underneath the motor, a thick towel served as our sole protection in the event of leakage. The goal was to transfer the wine from barrel, minus the remaining dregs of solids lingering at the bottom, to an empty vessel (in this case, a sanitized food grade plastic bin). This would provide temporary haven for the pristine wine while the barrel received a thorough scrub.

I had some trepidation about the operation. I called to mind the plastic drip hose in my garden which springs tiny, hissing spurts of water. There the only consequence is a patch of weeds. Sprays of wine in the living room wouldn’t be so negligible!

We hit the switch. All systems go! The pump hummed, drawing wine from the barrel like blood from a vein – out one vessel and into the other. It took several minutes, and then we became more vigilant so that we could flick off the motor just as the solids entered the transparent tube. Mission accomplished. We repeated the procedure with the two carboys.

To the wine in the white bin, Anthony introduced sulpher dioxide to help protect it from micro-organisms and oxidation. We secured the bin lids to keep curious cats out while Anthony took the hollow barrel to the patio’s edge and gently heaved it sideways to drain out the leftover lees (solids).

It was impossible to know how much was really in there until it oozed out. A rather toxic purple goop the consistency of cake batter spread into the dirt, out toward the flowers. As it kept flowing, the unnatural vivid hue started to alarm me. Would this be fertilizer, or doom the plants it touched and the soil with it?

Too late to reconsider, we instead rinsed the barrel with bucket loads of hot water from the bathtub, sanitized the barrel, and then returned the ruby, pure, vibrant wine to its woody home with our motorized tubing contraption.


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