My first attempt as a garagiste winemaker:Part Four

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– Part Four –

The drill – an essential winemaking tool?
With the additives now in my wine, it was time to degas – or vigorously stir – the wine in the carboy to release the remaining CO2 still in the solution after fermentation. This meant stirring the wine for a straight 10 minutes or more.

The kit came with a two-foot long spoon for this purpose which is to be inserted into a rather tiny three-inch opening at the top of the carboy to stir. If you’re looking to work out to exhaustion and have good upper body strength, then you can stir by hand. But I opted for getting the drill-mounted stirring device and it was worth it!

The attachment made my craftsman drill look like the ultimate uber-whisk with two paddles that spun around, whipping up the wine inside the carboy. I degassed carefully, so as not to stir too fast or knock the drill against the glass walls of the carboy. Holding my drill steady for nearly 15 minutes still required a fair amount of muscle for the old biceps.

In this case, I see the drill as a necessary winemaking power tool for degassing.

It’s a “bungle” in the carboy
After sufficiently stirring and degassing my wine, at this point, all I needed to do was plug up the carboy and let the wine rest.

What was supposed to be a tight fitting rubber stopper which fit snugly into the mouth of the carboy actually seemed to be too small. It didn’t seem to fit right. Thinking it just needed to be pushed in a little more; I pushed it a little too far. Kersploosh! The bung was now inside the carboy, swirling around in my wine.

Of course, there was nothing written in the kit’s instructions about what to do when your bung gets stuck inside your carboy. But if this happens to any of you ambitious garagistes reading this, here’s what you can do.

First, don’t panic. Your initial reaction may be that your wine will be rubber cork-flavored and forever ruined. It isn’t and it will taste just fine.

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Now, take a deep breath and siphon or pour all of that wine you just put into the carboy back into your clean fermenter bucket. With the carboy empty – except for that pesky cork inside – get a wire hanger and straighten out the hook end a bit. Tilt the carboy so that the rubber cork is near the mouth of the bottle. There is a small hole in the rubber cork where the airlock fits. Use this hole to catch the cork on the hook of the hanger. Then carefully pull the cork out through the mouth of the carboy. Et voila!

While I did have to siphon my wine back into the carboy, all of this transferring of wine from carboy-to-bucket-to-carboy thoroughly degassed the wine better than before. I inserted the rubber bung gently back into the carboy, and this time it stayed where it belonged.

For the next 40 days or so, the carboy with the wine safely inside and protected by the airlock would chill out in the cool cellar until bottling.

…Coming up next week:  my job as a bottle washer

This article is a Green Thumb AdventureTM series – a collection of documentary articles about finding your inner gardener and winemaker.  If you have any similar experiences, thoughts or comments, chime in!  Share with us. We hope you enjoy.

— Heidi Butzine
Senior Editor, Wineopolis Press

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