Thursday, June 4, 2009

oops. But it turned out ok.

I know you all want to know about the oops. But first things first.

The last few days have been pretty intensive on the wine front. I bottled the white, and had to make space for that on the racks. At the same time I had to do quite a bit more shuffling to make room for the red. I only have space for 464 bottles, and with the latest bottling, there are 424 bottles, so it's hard to find space for a block of 28 or 29.

While I was getting ready to bottle the white, I noticed lots of the bottles had some water spots, or a bit of guck from the labels, and some had a bit of cork residue, or a faint film on the inside of the bottle. I'm really fussy about my glass. Although red wine is normally bottled in green glass, I use clear. The commercial wines are in green to help mitigate the effects of storing wine in direct sunlight. That's hard on wine. My wine is stored in the basement where it never sees direct sunlight. Plus, and more important, you can glance at clear glass and know if it's clean.

Here's a photo showing the white and red ready to rack into another carboy and then bottle. You can see how clear the white is, and the layer on the bottom of everything that settles out. What you can't see is the glass of wine I was drinking while bottling.

I ran a big batch of glass through a bleach solution, then a cleanser to clean the bleach, then rinsed. The bottles go on a rack to dry. Yes, that's Estela in the background.

The trickiest part of the whole process is racking the wine into another carboy in preparation for bottling. You want to get all the wine, and none of the sediment. What makes it tricky is that you can't see where the bottom of the siphon is. When you're done, you're left with this.

Here I am, all ready to start bottling. Once you start you can't really stop till you're done, so I like to make sure everything is all ready to go.

You can't really see the siphon wand, but it's clever doodad with a little valve at the bottom of the tube. As long as it's sitting on the bottom of the bottle, the wine will flow. As the wine fills up the bottle and the level moves into the neck, you lift the wand and the flow stops. It's at the perfect level.

Here's how you get the cork into the bottle. You can see the bottle underneath, and the top of the cork. As you press down the lever it compresses the cork and inserts it into the bottle. You saw the corks sitting in a bit of water in an earlier photo. Being wet helps the insertion process.

Here's the 29 bottles I got, plus there is another 3/4 of a bottle. I normally get 28 bottles from a kit. They say it makes 30, but that's only happened a couple of times. You'd have to be really really good with your racking to do that.

Now I'm putting on labels. They are provided in the better kits. There are different ways of doing this, here I'm peeling off a backing paper, and the label is already sticky. I suspect it's going to be a bitch to get the label off again when I'm cleaning the glass. The general rule is that the easier the label goes on, the harder it is to get off. Some just soak off. The Australian Verdhelo is a plastic label that just peels off, sweet! Some I soak for a while, then use a tool that is normally used to apply cement for ceramic tiles to shred and scrape it off.

Here's the label stuck to the bottle and ready to be pressed down.

Last is a shrink wrap cap to go over the cork. Some people don't bother with this, but my thinking is that with the shrink wrap cap, you KNOW the cork and glass rim is clean, regardless of how dusty your basement is. And I have to admit (hangs head in shame) our basement is dusty. Plus, if you ever give your wine as a gift, having the shrink wrap on it makes it look nicer. Every now and then we let our financial advisor drop by and pick out a case. Lisa K, if you're reading this, don't think about us giving gifts, and your upcoming wedding. (Fans of a recent blog by Julie, look in the background.)

There it is on the rack, to sit for 3 months or so. We're sampling the 3/4 of a bottle I mentioned earlier, and it's pretty good. A bit sharp and raw, but it would be perfect if we were having something spicy for supper, like an Argentine steak in chimichanga sauce. Which, oddly enough, is on the menu for tomorrow. You can see the dust on some of the bottles. This is the rack where the last few bottles in a batch end up. I think our oldest wine is more than 5 years old, and in some cases, it's almost heart breaking to drink the last one.

And now the oops. No, I didn't forget to put on my swim shorts. I forgot to take the bag that has the swim gear, towel, ect. I dropped Linda off, then drove to FOMC, and was staring stupidly into the back seat after parking. It took a minute to sink in. After I got home I did an hours worth of yoga/pilates/stretching/massage stuff. The more I had thought about it, the less I liked that wooden feeling my legs had yesterday. I figured something different would be good, and it was. ooooooooohhhhhhh. I needed that.

After some breakfast and puttering about doing wine stuff I headed out for a bike ride. This was an hour of easy spin at low effort and trying to keep my heart rate down. Over the entire hour my average rpm was 85. I didn't care about speed and rode around in Woodbine, Woodlands, Canyon Meadows, Oakridge, and Cedarbrae, just looking at the world and having fun. While I never got lost, I did spend some time on streets that I've never been on before. It was beautiful out, warm and sunny. People are out enjoying it while it lasts. The forecast for the weekend sucks big time. Can you see the S word? But the bike ride will go ahead as planned, unless it actually is snowing. No such thing as bad weather, only poor clothing choices.


  1. I stopped when I saw the crazy glass bong you have there. Jeeze Keith, we don't like to publish that kind of info.

  2. Good for you Keith, I gave up making my own, it is easier just to purchase, open, pour and ponder!

    I love your bio, I tried a tri last year and I'm hooked too!

  3. We are biking in the snow my friend -- we WILL do this!!! MUAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

    You would have made a killing back in the days of Prohibition. You could have set up a little shack in the wilderness and done some pretty profitable run running! Did you know the Crowsnest Pass was a BIG rum-running place? They have found all kinds of underground tunnels connected to the older buildings...

  4. I am so impressed with your wine making skills. You have a whole set up down there. I bet it's good too b/c you take so much time. I can tell it's a passion. So neat. I loved looking at all the different machines too (like the corker thingy). I bet that label will be a b*tch to get off, but it looks great now!

    I hate when I forget stuff.

  5. can't wait to sample some more wine!! mmm mmm good! the last ones were super tasty.

    i was so happy to have biked yesterday afternoon, it was gorgeous out, then turned icky. am going to go on sunday and pray for decent weather. make sure you or julie has a cell phone adn if there is service and you need help you call me!!!

    take care tomorrow.

  6. Now I am glad i had to work this wkd and not get snowed on in calgary as i can do that just fine in Toon town!! And for some reason I find myself very very thirsty all of a sudden!!


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