Sunday, October 28, 2007


The second fermentation begins. And this depsite all my assiduous notetaking through the first fermention which now is revealed to be quite dodgy. It seems I have been misreading the numbers on the hydrometer, that trusty judge of sugar content, or rather misattributing numbers based on the temperature reading. Everything is not what it seems. When I explain my difficulties with a laugh to a patron at the restaurant who shares an interest in winemaking, she exclaims in shock when she hears I have not kept a "control" for this experiment. I should expect this from a scientist, but I still feel slightly shabby in my efforts. I have mis-written the early numbers also for the first fermentation of the Nebbiolo, only realizing this blunder today after two weeks of "winemaking".

I placate myself with the notion, and Caleb agrees, that people have been making wine without hydrometer readings for centuries, if not millenia. My rather "shoot-from-the-hip" style will certainly not be the end of the world, and most likely not be the end of the wine. Even though the house still smells like as still, nothing smells "off", and after years of smelling wine like a perfumist at her laboratory, I know I can trust my nose.

So, we proceed with syphoning off the Barbera juice into a carboy for the second fermentation. We do this by the light of a Harvest Moon. I am rather pleased with myself on this front as I feel that while my science may be faulty, I have triumphed in biodynamics. At least in what little I know about biodynamics ( a whole world of cultivation that has been practiced for centuries, if not millenia, and finally codified by the rigorous Rudolph Steiner of Waldorf School fame in the '30's). The juice has been syphoned by gravity, and the winemaking began while the moon was on the wax. These are auspicious signs.

We are like magicians on a witchy night, the warm wind whipping about the house, and scuttling spooky clouds across that full moon. We hover and cluck our tongues over our brew, and we improvise a cork when we realize we do not have the right kind of stopper for the carboy. A rolled up, but very clean towel will have to do the trick until the next shipment of winemaking ephembera arrives by post next week. The glass demijohn goes on the pantry floor with a thermometer propped against it to keep track of the temperature. The wine is clearing as it should be and we thank the moon shining on all our alchemy.

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