Monday, November 15, 2010

Ghetto Neck Winery's First Batch

The weather is dark, dreary and drizzly, here in the Pacific Northwest. Time for indoor amusements. And the perfect time to get my feet wet in wine making. I had the recipe, and the equipment already assembled. And now I found myself with a large block of time. The recipe is located here, on I read through the reviews and made an adjustment to the amount of sugar. Many reviewers said that 4 cups was too much. One reviewer claimed that 2 cups per gallon was sufficient, I decided to meet them halfway, and use 3 cups per gallon. The following is the recipe, as I made it, including my more detailed instructions.

Ghetto Neck Homemade Closet Wine

1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
3 cups sugar
1 (12 fluid ounce) can frozen juice concentrate - any flavor except citrus, thawed
1 gallon glass or plastic jug, with a lid
1 good quality balloon
1 rubber band

Make sure you have 100% juice. The first step is to make sure your frozen concentrate is completely thawed. Next, assemble your equipment. Wash everything you'll be using with soap and water. Rinse well. Now you'll need to sanitize everything that will come in contact with your wine. Bleach water is fine, but don't get too carried away. You want to be able to rinse the bleach smell and taste off the items. No one wants bleach flavored wine. I think 1 TBS. of unscented bleach per gallon of water is enough. You're sanitizing...not sterilizing. Fill the jugs with bleach water, along with your glass measuring cup. Also rinse out the balloons, well, and soak them, the rubber bands, the jug caps and any plastic measuring spoons/cups you'll use, in a glass bowl of bleach water. Let everything soak for 30 minutes. Now you're ready to begin. It's easiest to make multiple gallons, at the same time. You can use the same measuring equipment. Just be careful not to recontaminate it. Set items on plastic wrap or tin foil, between uses.

Step 1: Rinse out the jug, with warm water. I rinse (and shake) 3 times. You want to get all the bleach out.

Step 2: Rinse the plastic measuring cup, and the whisk. Dissolve the yeast in warm tap water. Don't worry about water amounts. As for temperature, you want it warm enough to dissolve, but not too hot. Dissolving your ingredients, at each addition, makes them much easier to get them into the jug. Don't worry if there is a little yeast left in the measuring cup. It will eventually all wind up in the jug, since you're going to use that cup to add the remaining ingredients.

Step 3: Add the sugar, 1 cup at a time, the same way you did the yeast, making sure to dissolve it well before pouring.

Step 4: Pour the concentrate into the measuring cup. Put a little water in the container and stir with the whisk to get the last bit of juice. Pour that into the cup, as well, and add it all to the jug.

Step 5: At this point you should have the yeast, sugar, and juice in the jug. Now fill the jug up the rest of the way with room temperature water. Be sure to leave some space at the top. At least an inch or so. Now rinse the jug cap, place it firmly on the jug, and shake it really well. You want to get that yeast and sugar mixed up. Remove the cap (wash and re sanitize if needed for the next gallon). Rinse your balloon out well. Place it over the open top of the jug. Rinse your rubber band and secure it to the base of the balloon. YOU DID IT!

Now you need to find a dark place, room temperature, to put the jugs so the yeast can work its magic. I opted for the bottom of the linen closet. I set everything on an old towel, just in case. At this point I have no idea what to expect.

I checked on the jugs an hour after placing them in the closet. 2 of the balloons were already inflated. I took a sewing needle, ran a flame over it to sterilize, and poked 5 holes in each balloon. HINT: It is much easier to poke holes into them once they are inflated. You need to poke the holes to allow the carbon dioxide gas to escape. Don't worry about nasties getting in. The gas is coming out with such force that nothing is going to get in. Besides, to holes are really tiny.

After another hour, all the balloons were inflated (and pierced). Boy, are they ever noisy. Just hissing away. We'll leave them be, and check in on them in 3 weeks. At that time I plan to rack (siphon) the wine into glass jugs, leaving the lees (sediment) behind.

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