The sad conclusion of the Slovenian science project

This is an update I really haven’t wanted to write.

(read here for the start of this experiment)

I’ve wished and hoped that maybe I was wrong, that maybe things would be okay in the end, everything would work out, and I and my loved ones would be enjoying sweet magenta wine in a few short weeks.  If you’d been following along on Instagram, you may have been a little curious about the silence.

I’d been ready to buy some empty wine bottles online!  I was learning how to siphon things!  I’d even cleared some space on a basement shelf.

But sadly, the wine is not to be.

Despite a few VERY hectic weeks in our personal life, I and my husband have faithfully stirred the wine every other day and kept it covered in cheesecloth in a cool corner of the kitchen, away from the sun.  For many weeks, it looked and smelled like wine.

Until one day, it didn’t.

Overnight, a misty white pallor developed over the surface of the wine.

I stirred it, and waited.

The white mist came back, more dense than before.

One more stir.

More white.

Not so much a smell of wine, but an unpleasant, yeasty odor.

I don’t know how or why it happened, but it appears my wine has been overtaken by mold.  And I’m not serving it to myself or anyone else!

It’s a good thing I didn’t buy the wine bottling supplies, but it is a sad day for my future winemaking career, and the “all of us sitting around on a hot summer day drinking really sweet homemade wine” occasion that is never to be.

RIP, Homemade Rose Wine.

(PS: Yeah, it smelled horrible when I poured it down the drain.)

Slovenian Science Project: Week 1

wine week1

(read here for the details on this Homemade Wine project!)

One week in to our summer science project, and changes are happening!  Per the instructions in the original recipe, I’ve kept the jar covered with cheesecloth and have been stirring the mixture every other day.

Day 3: the color was noticeably lighter, with some fizzing around the top,

Day 5: still  fizzy, but a little darker in color

Day 7: the fizzing had decreased, and wine had begun to separate (lighter with some sediment at the bottom, darker and clearer at the top).

Whereas on Day 1 this really just smelled like grape juice with yeast in it, by the end of the week it’s more reminiscent of Cold Duck sparkling wine (which, if you’ve never enjoyed it, can be obtained for about $5 and tastes like boozy grape juice in the best possible way).  We still have a ways to go, but I’ve scoped out some wine-making supplies online, and hope this yields a product worth bottling!

1 week down, 3 to go?  I will continue to post updates here and on Instagram.  It’s not too late to get your own ingredients and follow along!

Homemade Rosé Wine (Slovenian Science Project)

More than a year ago, I posted a recipe for Homemade Rosé Wine from the More Pots and Pans Cookbook.  I’m not sure if anyone else out there tried the recipe, but I for one never got around to making it.  This year, however, it was on my list of things to try, and I figured Memorial Day, the Unofficial First Day of Summer, was as good a time as any to get the project started.   Best case scenario, we will be enjoying delicious homemade wine mid-summer!  Worst case, I wasted a few dollars and will have a gallon of something that doesn’t taste very good.

The ingredients for this project totaled less than $5 and are pretty easy to obtain:

  • 12-ounce can of grape juice concentrate
  • 1 envelope (or 2-1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • granulated sugar1
  • water

The only supplies that I needed to get started were a gallon-size container and some cheesecloth.  The recipe calls for a “gallon bottle” and I didn’t have much luck finding something in a store, so I ordered this jar from Amazon.  Although I’m not using it right now, the jar does come with a plastic screw-on lid, which means that once it has served its purpose as a wine-brewing vessel, I can use it for something else (unless, of course, this wine is so exceptional that we want to have some fermenting on the kitchen counter year-round).

wine day 1

I am copying Ann Savor’s (of Warren, OH) original recipe below, along with some notes of my own:

HOMEMADE ROSÉ WINE (Domače vino2)

In a gallon bottle dissolve the sugar in one quart warm water.  Shake bottle to dissolve sugar.  Add thawed grape juice.  Fill jar with warm water to about 2 inches from top to give headspace for fermentation.  Add the dry yeast and stir (a long slender knife or wooden dowel will work).  Cover with cheese cloth.  Mix every other day for four to six weeks until fermentation stops, which depends on the weather.

There are 2 methods to tell if fermentation has stopped3:

  1. After a week, put a strong balloon on the bottle to check on fermentation.  When the ‘gas’ comes up, the balloon is upright.  When limp, no more ‘gas.’  This means the wine is ready to cap.
  2. If a balloon is not used, fermentation has ceased when the tiny surface bubbles disappear and the wine is clear above the sediment.

To siphon4, place the gallon filled jug on the edge of the table and a glass jar or bottles on the floor.  Through a plastic or rubber tube, siphon the clear wine into the jar/jars leaving sediment behind.  Cap and store in basement to ‘age’ for at least 4 weeks or longer.  “I have some that is a year old and enjoy it.”

NOTE: Supplies can be purchased in a winery equipment store.5

My notes:

1: The original recipe calls for 3-1/2 cups of sugar.  Some sugar is absolutely needed because it serves as fuel for the yeast, but because I do not like very sweet wine, I decided to take a chance on decreasing the amount of sugar called for, and I put in about 1-1/2 cups (keep in mind there is also significant sugar in the grape juice).  

2: The Slovenian translates literally as “homemade” or “local” wine.

3: Because I am using a wide-mouth jar, I won’t be able to use Ms. Savor’s “balloon method,” so instead I will just be tracking bubbles.

4: I’m a little uncertain about the siphoning method… so I will do some research over the next few weeks to see how this is best accomplished.

5: I haven’t bought any other supplies!  (yet)

I will be posting updates on the Grandma’s Icebox Instagram page, if you’d like to follow along! (@grandmasicebox, or, if you are not on Instagram, the right sidebar of this page!) Please comment below if you plan to make your own jug of wine along with me!