Saturday, September 30, 2006

Is it water... or BRANDY!!?!

So, as mentioned, Lodi grapes have arrived:

They're now undergoing a cool ferment in plastic 6-gallon pails:

After a week, the yeast ferment has driven the brix level down from the mid-20's to around 6-8.

One of the things I've always noticed during active fermentation in these buckets is the "water" residue that forms on the underside of the lid. When I lift the lid to punch down the yeast cap and stir the must, the "water" will often spill down the lid if I lift it at an angle:

Notice I used the term "water" in quotes above. That's because I know better now. I was thinking about this a bit the other day (I know, I know, how odd - THINKING while winemaking?!?). Anyway, I thought it a bit odd that water would evaporate from the must and condense on the lid. I thought it odd because most of the water would be in suspension with the sugars, thus making it unlikely to evaporate.

Wait a second... I thought. If not water that was evaporating, perhaps it was the ALCOHOL evaporating from the fermentation and condensing on the lid -- kind of like a heatless distillation!

Being ever adventurous in things alcoholic, I lifted a lid at an angle and poured some of this clear liquid into one of my favorite sipping glasses:

Lo and behold, my friends, the storm clouds gathered, the thunder gods clapped, then the heavens parted... this was indeed a crisp, clean grape distillation with a knock-your-socks-off alcohol level. Something you'd call brandy if it came out of a bottle, and not off the lid of your winemaking bucket!

Now, I had about 11 drops of it to enjoy -- but wait'll I get my big batch of frozen Brehm grapes fermenting later this winter!

There's always something to learn, I guess.

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