Monday, March 12, 2012

Wine & Life

I make wine at home as a hobby.  It is a wonderful process and much attention to detail is needed.  There are steps, time frames and measurements to follow, as well as some instinctual observations; all of which impact the end result.  In that way, making wine is much like life.

In order to start out well in making wine, preparation is the key.  As in life, you need the right tools to begin and to move forward.  In the case of wine, items used at each step need to be sanitized and functional; and timing is everything.

The juice of the grapes is mixed with water and yeast is added to convert the sugar to alcohol.  The primary fermentation lasts for 5 to 7 days.  The liquid must be kept at a temperature of between 72 and 78 degrees.  Once the specific gravity of the liquid has reached 1.010, it is racked (or transferred by siphoning) into a secondary fermentation vessel, or carboy.  After another 10 days, in the same temperature environment, the specific gravity must be at 0.996 before clarifying agents are added to the liquid.  Another eight days are needed for the liquid to clear into what now looks like wine.  The wine is then racked again leaving all the cleared sediment behind and sits in the carboy for another 14 days.

After that last 14 days, bottling can occur.  Once bottled and corked, the bottles stand upright for three days to let the cork set and then on their sides for three months when the wine is ready to be consumed. How the wine is treated from that point on can effect its quality in terms of shelf life, drinkability, and its overall status as a wine.

It can be said, and compared, that the care and nurturing of the wine through this delicate process mirrors the stages of life from birth, childhood, adolescence on through adulthood.  At each stage something done or not done can determine the success of the next stage, and ultimately the final outcome, either of the wine or a person.

We get out of life what we put into it, and it is best if we can ever so briefly get a chance to taste the result and proclaim, for all to hear, “Slainte!”  L.S.

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