Sunday, November 30, 2008

Secondary Fermentation Continues

At three weeks into the second phase of fermentation, the Riesling wine is beginning ever so slightly to clear. Last weekend I had a scare when I logged into the server and saw that the air temperature in the basement was 52 degrees. The furnace went out the night before and the temperature was in free fall. I made a brief trip up to the Shier and re-started the furnace. I am wondering if poor ventilation and the high level of carbon dioxide was affecting the oil furnace ignition. The thermometers on the carboys were each at 54 degrees. Again, the D47 yeast survives down to 50 degrees. Close call. When I returned this weekend the carboy temperatures were back up to 57 degrees and the wine was still bubbling up.

I measured the SG on a wine sample from the third carboy. It measured 0.999. So far, so good. I will add oak chips to the third carboy in four weeks. If all goes according to plan, I will rack and cold stabilize in five weeks.

I also tried to measure the free SO2 level using a Titret test kit. The experience was a miserable failure. Basically, you have to break off a glass tip on the Titret vial and use a miniature eye dropper to put drops of wine into the vial. It mixes with a basic solution in the vial which turns blue until enough drops of wine oversaturate the mixture and it turns clear. At that point the measurement of the fluid is taken from a graduated marks on the vial which indicates the amount of SO2 in ppm. Unfortunately I couldn't get the dropper to suck any wine into the vial. I ended up crushing the vial with pliers trying to get the wine into it. I have my doubts that such a technique is going to be very accurate because I maintain sterility by spraying anything I dip into the wine with SO2, including test vials.

On another note, I received a $45 bill from the Cornell wine lab. $10 more than I was quoted on the phone. Not only did they let the juice sample sit for a week, provide me with useless test results, but they also sent a larger bill. In case there is any doubt from what I have previously written about using the Cornell wine lab, let me be clear that I will never waste any more time with them.

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