Looks Like It’s That Time

So today I began bottling things that I’ve been meaning to get to over the last couple weeks, but, for one reason or another, had not been able to. I spent the better part of the afternoon washing and sanitizing wine bottles, interspersed with episodes of helping kids with homework. Then, I got to work, starting with the Muscadine wine.

With 3 gallons of Muscadine wine in a carboy, and the knowledge that my wife would prefer a sweeter Muscadine wine, I calculated 12 ounces of sugar (a ratio of 4 ounces per gallon). I brought these 12 ounces to a boil in one cup of water, and transferred the resulting syrup to my bottling bucket. I then transferred the wine to the bucket, letting gravity do the work of distributing the sugar into the wine. Bottling took about a half hour in all (including heating the syrup), and I ended the process with 15 75 cL bottles of varying shades of brown and green, and one clear 20 cL bottle filled with yummy, musky wine. Having tasted the remainders in the bottling bucket, I’m quite happy. It’s not a very dark red wine, more of a rose color – thin, but with a great smell and taste.

Muscadine bottled and corked, I began planning for next things. For dinner, we were scheduled to attend a chili “cook-off”. It went quite well, and was a great time with friends. Returning home, kids were placed snugly in bed, and I got to work on the next “ready” brew, the cyser.

First, I addressed the single gallon of oaked cyser. I had no plans to sweeten it, so I quickly moved to bottling. Took about five minutes, and I was done. It wasn’t as simple as originally intended, though. Luckily, I had the rest of the un-oaked cyser ready to go. I ended up with 3 75 cL bottles of oaked cyser, one more with just a tiny bit of un-oaked cyser to top, and then 2 bottles that were 2/3 oaked, and 1/3 not. Basically, I had just a bit over the typical 5 bottles per gallon, and I stretched it to a full six by adding some un-oaked cyser to the mix.

I then moved on to the three gallons of unoaked cyser. I wanted to vary the level of sugar, and so plotted out a course of adding sugar in gradiated amounts for each gallon. That basically meant adding 6 ounces of sugar at the start, filling five bottles, adding 4 more ounces of sugar, then filling another 5 bottles, finally adding a last 2 ounces of sugar, before filling the final 5 bottles. But that isn’t what happened. I started as I suggested, with 6 ounces of sugar (syrup boiled in 1/2 cup of water). That resulted in the first five bottles sweetened 2 ounces per gallon. I then added the next dosage of sugar syrup (4 ounces of sugar boiled in 1/4 cup of water), and bottled the next five.

Since I was rather messy, I had opportunity to taste some of the cyser. My impression was that it was plenty sweet. So I decided to skip further sweetening, and bottled the remainder as it was. End result, five standard wine bottles sweetened at 2 ounces of sugar per gallon, and another ten bottles at 4 ounces per gallon. Plus one 37.5 cL bottle…so cute.

With that, I decided to work on the cider. It had seemed to bubble forever! The five gallons glows a lovely crystal yellow. After the long wait, the cider has finally stopped all bubbling, and I was ready to prime it and start bottling. I washed the bottles. I put the priming sugar (boiled syrup of 3 ounces of sugar and 1/4 up of water) in the bottling bucket. I was attaching the syphon hose to the racking cane, when I jiggled it more than intended and stirred up the sediment at the bottom. Oops. I watched in sullenly, then decided it was a good excuse to call it quits for the evening’s labors.

So, I dumped the sugar solution and washed everything. Hands are a bit dried out from all the cleaning and the StarSan…In any case, the bottles are ready, sanitized, and I can pick back up with the process tomorrow, maybe over lunch.

And that only leaves four gallons of plum wine that is oh-so-close to being ready to bottle (as with the cyser, some oaked but most not), 2…no 3 five gallon batches of braggot happily bubbling away (all at different stages of completion), a cranberry wine not very far along, and the quadruple that I think has finally stopped bubbling (six weeks my foot). Oh, and the blueberries (1 gallon of wine, 1 of mead) that refuse to finish!

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