October 4, 2010
After fermenting for an entire evening (and forming an even more lovely cap than it had the day before), it was time to punch said cap. Punching the cap means using my awesome potato masher to push the cap down and mix the skins back into the fermenting wine. This serves to enhance the color of the wine, and also relieves some of the pressure of the carbon dioxide build-up under the cap. It's a very satisfying feeling, and is by far the best part of wine making so far. Here I am punching the crap out of the cap:
All this punching came in handy later, as when I tried to start my car, my battery was dead. I probably should have seen it coming--my windshield wipers had been acting oddly for the past couple of weeks. I ended up having to stay home that day until Brian could come home with a new battery for me. The upside of this is, of course, that working from home rocks. The downside is that I was trapped in the house with fermenting wine. This is when I began to understand why people ferment wine in their garages--fermenting wine stinks. It smells exactly how you would expect it to: like rotting grapes. I managed during the day (as smell perception fades with time), but when Brian got home, he said what I was thinking--we needed to move my precious fermenting must to the garage. There it finished its fermentation (and was none the worse for wear, but that's a future post).
I ended up punching the cap 3 times that day, as I was home at lunch anyway, and it certainly needed it. I measured the temperature, pH, and Brix that afternoon (with the last punch), a pattern I repeated until fermentation was complete. The results:
The temperature was fine--a little above room T, but fermentation is exothermic (heat-producing for those not in the know) so a rise was expected. The pH was still fine, and the Brix levels indicates that I am, indeed, fermenting.
The next few posts are going to be quite short, as they will basically be repeats of this one (hopefully without the car trouble!), but read them anyway :)