Thursday, June 14, 2012

Ali Makes Wine Part II: Stabilizing & Clearing

It's been a couple of weeks since I had to pay much attention to my wine Orchard Breezin' Banana Pineapple Viognier, and it's time for step two.  I'm making sure to write about this because I think making wine is fun, and it's relatively easy when you buy a wine kit.  I don't want to get in the habit of only posting about sewing.  Giving somebody a bottle of wine you made can be just as satisfying as finishing a quilt or wearing a new piece of clothing you made.

When a wine's specific gravity decreases to 0.998 or lower (a measurement of how dense the liquid is compared to water), it's time to move on to to stabilizing and clearing . This stops fermentation & transfers the wine off of the yeast to start the aging process before it's bottled.

For Orchard Breezin' kits this step happens around day 14.  On day 16 I had time to work on it so after transferring it to a 6 gallon bottle there were a number of chemicals to add - I have a stirring rod you put in a hand held drill so I don't have to hand stir everything.  It's also time to add the remainder of the banana & pineapple flavor pack to sweeten it.  Now it pretty much just sits and hangs out for a minimum of another two weeks.

tools soaking in sanitizing solution

Tools for this part are pretty minimal - a sanitized 6 gallon bottle (glass or PET plastic) A siphon to transfer the wine from the bucket to the bottle (gravity assisted, with the bucket 3 or so feet above the bottle), and a stirring stick to mix chemicals in and help drive off CO2 so it won't end up a sparkling wine..
The other new item used now is a bung (tee hee) which is a rubber cork that fits tightly in the bottle opening, the airlock goes into the bung to keep oxygen out.

cloudy after transfer
much clearer a few days later

Transferring wine usually stirs up some sediment, so it's cloudy at first.  Some of the chemicals  added help pull suspended solids out of the wine.  After a bit they'll start sinking to the bottom, and eventually it should be super sparkly crystal clear, and then it's ready for bottling.

There are two places I've ordered wine kits from online that I really like.  There are a few Seattle-ish area stores, but truthfully the prices at brick and mortar stores are very high here and there's also almost a 10% sales tax in my county.  Add to that the $4.31 a gallon gas was last night, even with the shipping costs for these heavy kits, I come out ahead ordering online. 

Ali's favorite wine supply stores:
High Gravity - beer and wine kits, cheese making stuff.  Bonus is $9.99 flat rate shipping in the US, so if you are ordering more than one kit at a time it can really save money.
Fine Vine Wines - aka the Winemaker's Toy Store.  Prices are lower, shipping is therefore higher, they have monthly specials for beer and wine and equipment.  By registering with the website you automatically get 10% off any purchases. 

There's a great website too for advice and help...well there used to be two I loved and they merged so all the better for my convenience! It's at

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