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Originally posted on 27 Jul 2008

An update on the plum wine process (aka “ordeal”)…

The entire process began on July 8th. By July 12th the specific gravity of the mixture was at 1.012. This is way too low for wine. It’s also expected for a non-grape variety of wine. Grapes are a rare fruit inasmuch as they provide enough natural sugar to create a respectable wine. Other fruits? Not enough sugar. It has to be added after the fact.

On July 12th I added sugar in three batches:

  • 5lbs sugar == 1.050 SG
  • +2lbs sugar == 1.066 SG
  • +3lbs sugar == 1.083 SG

I’d have preferred to have an SG of > 1.095 but as I was mostly out of sugar so, well, you know how it goes. After reaching an adequate-ish level of specific gravity I added 5g of Lavlin ICV D47 yeast. This is a wine yeast which, reputedly, can sustain a beating at a higher alcohol level (which is required for a successful wine). Things bubbled along nicely enough under primary fermentation and then kind of stalled.

Yesterday, 2008-07-26, I racked the brew from a primary bucket to a secondary carboy. I also added 1tsp yeast nutrient and 5g Lavlin ICV D47 yeast. Between racking and adding of extra stuff the specific gravity (SG) was 1.038. The sample I pulled tasted raw but still wine-y. Progress is being made!

Since adding the next wave of yeast and the nutrient the brew has been bubbling along furiously. No, really, it’s furiously active yeast right now. The fermentation lock is releasing a bubble every two seconds or so and the yeast is so active that you can stand there and watch the bubbles appear at the bottom of the carboy and quickly burble up to the top for escape through the lock.

So, yes, the yeast is active. But the plum wine will still be a very long time in the making. Everything I’ve read on the web says, “a year minimum but, really, three years is best” until drinking. OY! Did I really get myself into a three year commitment without doing research? Yes, yes I did. I’m a fool for doing so and I’ll just have to work with that in order to make the end result of this project as good as possible.

The “wine” right now looks like something you’d see in a Sobe bottle. It’s bright pink-red and cloudy. In my pop-culture experience a beverage of this color means “Kool-Aid”, not alcohol, so I’m having a hard time believing that everything will turn out for the best. I keep reminding myself that I shouldn’t focus on the color as popular beverages use artificial color/flavorings but I’ve done none of that so my beverage will turn out better (Hubris!).

Regardless, the brew is bubbling along fiercely right now. In another couple of weeks I’ll rack it off into another carboy. I intend to rack it off again every two weeks (taking a specific gravity reading each time; posting those readings in comments here) after that until the entire brew clarifies. At that point I intend to bottle it and set it aside in a forgettable location for a couple of years. Perhaps in July of 2011 you’ll be seeing a post entitled “OMG! Plum Wine!” where I extoll the virtues of the homemade fruit wine. I’m hoping for that, at any rate.