Saturday, May 19, 2012

Ali makes wine: Banana Pineapple Viognier

Wine kit
Grape Juice
So it's not wine time exactly, it's more of a "wine light" time.  It seems that there's a chance we will be relocating to another state soon, and I'm not sure I'll have time to wait out a nice long aging process. I haven't made a batch of wine for 9 months and I don't want to put it off until I know whether we are moving (have to stay ahead of these things!) so I ordered a wine kit.  I decided on something I'd had my eye on for over a year, Orchard Breezin's Banana Pineapple Viognier. 

K-pak, yeast and additives
Yes that is a cheezy name!  There are three "wine light"lines that I'm aware of - "Orchard Breezin" by RJ Spagnols "Summer Breeze" by Mosti Mondiale (which I haven't tried) and Cellar Crafts' "Island Mist".  I guess they need to have cheezy names so you're not surprised when you churn out more of a cooler instead of a wine. These kits are nice because they are inexpensive ($72 for the kit with shipping - yields up to 30 bottles) and are "drinkable" in four weeks.  

Checking the specific gravity
A lot of people change these kits into full alcohol wines by adding more sugar during the beginning steps.  You can get extra fancy and make or buy inverted sugar, but for the couple of "wine light" kits I've made before I just made sugar syrup for.  Wine making CAN get all mathmaticky and thinky, but I try to avoid that whenever possible and have managed to enjoy the process without worrying overmuch about the chemistry that can be involved. 

Juice all ready, yeast cast
I made two alterations to the kit's directions.
1. I boiled 1.5 cups of sugar in water, let it cool and added into the 6 gallon bucket
2. I put 2/3 of the included K-pak (basically sugar syrup with flavor, in this case banana and pineapple) into the juice mix.  This increases the alcohol level, and decreases the end sweetness (these kits can be overly sweet).  Orchard Breezin' normally ends with about 6.7% alcohol.  My specific gravity was reading about 1.074 which will end up being about a 10% alcohol.  Under the 12-14.5% of most commercial wines, but that's good, it means I'll be less likely to overindulge.

Airlocked and ready to go
Each wine kit has directions that are easy to follow about each step up to the bottling stage.  Beginning a wine is simple, you basically put your grape juice in a sanitized bucket and add water to 6 gallons (higher quality kits have more juice, some are a full 6 gallons of juice).  When the temperature of the juice is between 70-80F you sprinkle the yeast on it, cover it with the sanitized lid, put an airlock in it so CO2 escapes but nothing gets in, and then leave it alone. Now I just follow the schedule, and in two weeks and check the specific gravity again to see if the yeast is done working and it's time to go to the next step.

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