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This Just In (Sort of):
Dec 13th, 2013 by

The Blue Ribbons Arrived!!

It was another award winning year for the RootsLiving wine cellar. Read all about it on MakingVino.com:

Saints Preserve Us, Don’t Try This At Home
Jul 9th, 2012 by

You can see the dregs at the bottom of the carboy on the right.

You can see the dregs at the bottom of the carboy on the right.

I started drinking before 10:30 this morning and there was an explosion in my basement.

The 1-liter bottle exploded when the cork was pulled out.

The 1-liter bottle exploded when the cork was pulled out.

It was really more of a minor eruption and involved one of my 1-liter wine bottles. And the drinking was more of a tasting as part of my wine-making duties.

It was a little more than a month ago that the wine stopped fermenting in the large oak barrel and I siphoned it into two 5-gallon glass carboys, two 1-gallon bottles, and three 1-liter bottles. Over that time dregs settled to the bottom of the carboys and as part of the wine-making process I had to change it from carboy to clean carboy so that the wine didn’t sit too long on top of it.

Usually, when I make wine in the fall I crush the grapes in early October and I change the carboys on St. Martin’s Day, Nov. 11, an old superstition of my father’s that I’ve followed for years to great success. But this year I made wine in the spring using grapes from the fall harvest in Chile (our spring is their fall) and I wasn’t sure which Saint should guide me.

A Saint To Guide Me

Today I started a new tradition and declared St. Veronica Guiliani’s Day the day to change the wine from glass to glass. Catholic Online told me St. Veronica was a Capuchin mystic who was born near Milan and “who had many spiritual gifts.”  She was a “recipient of a stigmata in 1697 and “she impressed her fellow nuns by remaining remarkably practical despite her numerous ecstatic experiences.”

All was going well until I tried to open a 1-liter bottle of the wine to help fill one of the carboys to the top. The dregs take up some room so when I fill up a clean carboy I’m usually short a third of a liter or more and I need to fill it up all of the way to keep the air out.  Air will turn wine made without preservatives to vinegar. I use no sulphites, only grapes which mysteriously change from grape juice to wine when I follow this process.

So I pulled out the cork on the 1-liter bottle and it came out with a pop, followed by what looked to be smoke, and a raging rush of rose-colored bubbles that erupted out of the bottle along with three-quarters of the bottle of homemade wine. In the end I used up that bottle, as well as nearly two more liters, to fill both carboys to the brim. What I’m left with is 12 gallons of homemade malbec in clean bottles in my basement.

I had to taste each carboy and bottle after I opened it to make sure nothing had turned to vinegar. All tasted good– nearly ready to drink even now.

I Have A Vision

St. Veronica entered “a new phase of her spiritual life in 1693 when she claimed to have a vision of a chalise, symbolizing the Divine Passion which was to be re-enacted in her own soul,” according to Catholic Online.

I too have a vision of a chalise, filled with this wine, which I’ll be able to start drinking in the fall. This morning’s tastings led me to envision a bold vintage with bright spicy notes and a good kick. It’s a little raw now but I’m hoping it develops a silky texture within the next couple of months, a character of malbec that I like and desire.

Until then, I’ll wait out the rest of the summer knowing there is a God. How else can I explain this miracle?

Art, Wine Update
Jun 19th, 2012 by

"Lost In My Life (disposable jobs)," based on the work of Rachel Perry Welty.

"Lost In My Life (disposable jobs)," based on the work of Rachel Perry Welty.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I went back to school this year. Well, the semester is almost over and I turned in this photograph (see above) as my final project for my Visual Communications (art) class at Northeastern University.

The assignment was to choose a contemporary artist; to look at their work; and to then create something that would fit in with their portfolio. I chose Rachel Perry Welty and her “Lost In My Life” series.  I call the above photograph, “Lost In My Life (disposable jobs).” I came up with the idea after being laid off last month.

Welty uses disposable and/or deleted items in her work. Her most notable work is “Karaoke, Wrong Number,” where she uses wrong-number messages left on her answering machine over a three-year period.

I used newspaper “Help Wanted,” sections and headlines about the downfall in our economy to illustrate disposable jobs in our throw-away society.

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Shhh! Wine Is Resting

The wine is resting comfortably in my basement. On June 3, it stomped fermenting (you can tell when it stops boiling) and so I took it out of the oak barrel and siphoned it into two 5-gallon glass carboys and three liter quart barrels: 10+gallons, more than I expected.

It will now sit in those carboys for about a month before I siphon it out into two fresh and clean carboys. The idea is to not let the wine sit ontop of the dregs for two long. From here on out, it’s a matter of bottle exchange and bottle washing. It should be ready to drink by late August or early September.

The Wine Is Ready to Rumble
May 23rd, 2012 by

The malbec grapes were crushed on Saturday.

The Malbec grapes were crushed on Saturday.

The wine is fermenting nicely today. I went into the basement and I could hear it rumbling: the sound is like that of water boiling gently on the stove.

An audible “boil” started yesterday, about three days after crushing the grapes. This is a little unusual, as it usually only takes one day to start fermenting. However, it’s nothing to worry about as fermentation has started late before and the wine produced those years have turned out good.

I tasted it too. It’s still grape juice, but it’s rich and sweet. I’m feeling good about this batch.

(Want to see and hear what fermentation is like, check out this video of a good batch I made in 2009.)

Read more about making wine at MakingVino.com.

Making Wine With South American Grapes
May 19th, 2012 by

The grapes came wrapped in tissue paper in plastic crates.

The grapes came wrapped in tissue paper in plastic crates.

It’s got to be fall somewhere. And so it is: in Chile.

That’s why I’m able to make wine today. I purchased 10 boxes of Malbec grapes from a vineyard in Chile. I picked them up at the Beer and Wine Hobby Store in Woburn with the help of my friend, Danny, who has a pickup truck.

Wine grapes are only available in the fall, after the yearly harvest. So I usually make wine in September or October with grapes from Napa Valley, California. In 2009, the zinfandel I made won the top award at the Topsfield Fair.

This is the first time I purchased grapes from South America. The grapes look to be in good condition, ripe and sweet, which should produce a strong wine. I hope it’s also velvety smooth with peppery notes and deep hints of black plums.

The crushing begins in an hour. Wish me luck.

Easter Dinner Menu / Bottling Wine
Apr 2nd, 2010 by

I bottled about two cases of the home-made zinfandel this morning.

I bottled about two cases of the home-made zinfandel this morning.

I took some time this morning to bottle more of the ‘09 vintage. The grapes were a little sweeter this year and so the wine is a little stronger than last year’s award winner.

I now have plenty of home-made wine to serve at Easter dinner. This year’s feast includes the usual suspects:

Appetizers:

  • Bloody Marys (with garnishes of shrimp, pepperoni & cheese, celery)
  • Shrimp Cocktail
  • Potato Chips with French Onion Dip

First Course:

Main Course

Dessert:

Vino:

  • ‘08 Award-winning Zinfandel from the RootsLiving Wine Cellar
  • ‘09 Zinfandel, freshly bottled from the RootsLiving Wine Cellar

Sorry, but there’s no time to post recipes for all this. I’ll be cooking from now till Easter Sunday. (But I’ll be sure to post recipes next week.)

Find out more about the wine bottling process at MakingVino.com.

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