Things are growing in the dark and destroying my beautiful batches of wines. I have had trouble with the last few batches of my wine turning, shall we say, rather undrinkable? It is very disappointing when I would bottle a batch of wine and it tasted quite nice - raw but nice - only to have it be almost undrinkable a few months later. It was a smell and taste I couldn't put my finger on. I started to super sterilize (obsessively?) all my equipment and nothing seemed to make a difference. The last batch of raspberry broke my heart and I knew I had to do something about it.
I grabbed a bottle and went down to the local wine store. Neil and his buddy opened it, sniffed it, and tasted it. They pulled out the manuals and went through it all. We finally decided that the wine was oxidizing - that perhaps I hadn't stirred it enough before bottling it. So I bought a wine whip and hopefully this will help my wines in the future.
Now, I had a conundrum - what to do with all the oxidized wine? I considered dumping it then gave my head a shake. Why on earth would I dump it? It is only a couple steps away from being wine vinegar. As you may remember, I make various types of vinegars: red and white wine, cider and also ginger beer vinegars. However, an over-sized pickle jar would not hold all of the wine that has oxidized. I dug around and realized that I had a glass carboy that had a huge opening and that I had never used because I couldn't find a food grade cork big enough locally. So - I now have a container. I can still use a paper coffee filter to act as a cover and keep the vinegar flies out and other unsavoury treasures but the oxygen can still get in. The first batch of wine to go into the carboy was my Riesling. Thirteen bottles later, I had filled it almost halfway. I added a jar of white wine vinegar that had a nice little mother in it and gave it a stir.
Now came the second conundrum, where to put this carboy? We have a nice house but it didn't come with very many or very large closets and storage is always an issue for us. I definitely couldn't put it in a closet and it is too heavy to go in the cupboard above the fridge. Vinegar, in the making, needs to be kept warm and in the dark. I mulled this over in my pea-brain and decided that a cover was the way to go. I went downstairs and again dug around for something suitable that could just stay in the kitchen in a corner. Nothing appealed or matched. As I was walking through the laundry room, I spotted an old, black heavy knit dress of mine. Aha!! the lightbulb went on and the peas sprouted! I took it upstairs, cut part of the skirt off, and sewed a sleeve out of the skirt with elastic on the bottom and a drawstring on the top. It looks reasonable enough to sit in the corner (although I think I will change the drawstring to black once I find where I put the old black shoelaces) and it solves the problem of leaving it somewhere in the dark!!
So the next conundrum will be what to do with 5/6 gallons of white wine vinegar? It has to sit probably until the spring before it is ready and mellowed. However, I think I have this one already taken care of - I have many friends who are thrilled with the prospect of vinegar in the spring when it is done.