The Wine Name

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Maybe it is because I was always forced to title my papers in college and it often stretched my already exhausted and strained creativity, but when I make wine, I always feel it needs a name. That might not make any sense to anyone else out there, but it does to me. Heck, I want to name our house, though I have been forbidden to by Kevin and the girls (fun-suckers, I say).

So, I have been thinking very carefully about the name for this vintage (did you smell the burning?). Finally, I have arrived at a name and a label to go along with it.

I kinda like it alot.

Red Handed

And yes, I know I still have a carmenere out there unnamed. I am still thinking on that one. I told you my creativity is limited.

Well, This Was Messier

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Well, the bubbling of the fermentation tank finally stopped. So, it is time to move the wine to the carboy for secondary fermentation and aging. Previously, we have accomplished this task in about 5 minutes. That was before we stuff floating in the mix. Now I have stuff to fish out.

Ewww. Seedy.And a question to answer. What do I do with this stuff? Toss it right away? or try to press the remaining juice out of it. And of course, how to accomplish that as I still have not invested in a fruit press.

I went with trying to get the extra juice out. I used a familiar technique. A strainer and wooden spoon, like I use when making raspberry sauce, though I vow to now strain it so ruthlessly. I want juice, not pulp. It took a while and it was messy. I wish I had a compost pile for all the skins and seeds left behind but with my luck, it would attract rats which is a no-no here in the city.Much Messier

Next up I have to let it age a bit longer, because the flavor? kinda bitey. But because I have transferred the liquids into a new clean container (called racking) it is legally now wine, bitey wine, but wine, nevertheless. Now I have to figure out how I am going to clarify this stuff. Decisions, decisions…

Wine Bloop

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

So, we squeezed some grapes, an amusing, slightly insane and definitely messy job. Next day when the juice came up to room temperature, I stirred in the yeast. Also known as the only yeast that Caputo’s carried that I had to go to customer service to find after I asked around at the really crowded market. Luckily, the yeast was from Lanvin an known producer (at least to me and seemed to be a somewhat generic bordeaux type. So, red wine. Yeah. Just what I have, so this works.

PreWow, what a build up.What are differences between using just juice (must) (though I mean not grapes skins) and must with skins. One of the things that changes when the skins are in play is the volume of the mix. It turns out that before fermentation juice and skins just kind of hang out together in mixture.. kind of like a soup… but after fermentation? Oy! Those skins rise to the top forming a thick layer that has to be broken through to get a good mixture.

Taking Wine Making Up A Notch

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

GrenacheYes, those were crates of grapes, but I am not making jelly. I am making wine. With real grapes. Do we know what we are doing? Kinda sort.

In the meantime it has been an adventure.

Making wine the hard wayKevin and I headed off to Caputo’s Market and found the grapes. Boxes of grapes piled up. Sorted by varietal. Plastic pails of juice were also there. So now we had to decide what we were going to try. Which isn’t as easy to decide as you think. We decided to go with a blend of grapes and red grapes at that. So we walked up and down the aisle and finally decided on two varietals. Alicante, which is also (and more commonly in the US) known as Grenache and Carignan which is often found in Catalan and Languedoc wines.

Ready to crush the CarignanNow there is a problem with our plan. We do not own a fruit press and we were not prepared to shell out $800 for one of the ones that they had at Caputo’s. So we decided to wing it. We brought the grapes home cracked into the crates and started squeezing them by hand. It was a messy process. But getting that up close and personal with your grapes teaches you something. The Grenache are really, really red. The Carignan, have black skins but green pulp and were sweeter than the Grenache. And they are really, really sticky.

Making ProgressWe have left the skins in contact with the juice and will punch them down into the mix twice a day to enhance the color and the tannins. And we learned that it is trickier getting a sugar and potential alcohol readings with the skins in the way too. But now we are just waiting.

An you shall too.

Cross your fingers!

Fermentation – The Movie

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Sadly, this is our last installment of Wollersheim Winery videos. After this we were tasting and well, it was just too hard to keep up with videoing. Hope you enjoyed!

If you are near Madison, Wisconsin you should stop by Wollersheim Winery and enjoy the tour as well.

Wollersheim Winery
7876 State Rd 188
Prairie du Sac, WI 53578

The Hall of Fermentation

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Do you remember the Superfriends? The ones that hung out in the Hall of Justice? Well, in my world, me and mine hang out in the Hall of Fermentation.

This particular fermentation hall is at Wollersheim Winery as I continue my tour.


It Is So Easy, I Can’t Stop!

I have the bug.

The fermentation bug.

Strangely enough I didn’t catch it when Kevin was brewing beer. But then I don’t really LIKE beer. And it is a much stinkier process with the hops being involved and all… Wine is…well, different..

And as it turns out, I like cider too.

So that is project no. 2. I started my cider today. Only three gallons (or so.. as I will lose some in the mix), on the other hand, I am the only one that likes it. I put in some ginger to make it interesting. I was curious that you use wine yeast to make it as I think of it more like beer. But according to the recipe that I used, it is more like apple wine than beer. No WONDER I like it!

I have even come up with a name for my creation already! Cider of Eden. Yeah. Same reaction I got from Kevin. Phooey! A pox on you all!

And if the cider works out? Watch out MEAD!

The Rebel Girl Fermenting Continues!

Not a lot of bubbling action here… but the stuff is beginning to clarify itself… although I will have some more clarification to do on Sunday! In the meantime, I think it is looking clearer…

I took one picture earlier this week and got this:

Then today, I notice three different distinct levels within the carboy!


Has it been 10 days already? Wow! How time flies when you are fermenting in a bucket. At least we think we had been fermenting. How to check? Well, we floated the hydrometer into the now opened bucket and checked the level. According to the directions it was supposed to read 1.o or less… and so it was.

Now of course we must ferment the Hobo Wine secondarily. And to do this we needed to transfer it to the carboy. This was easy enough to accomplish except that we needed to hoist the primary fermenter up onto the breakfast bar on a stack of books in order to get both containers to the correct height.

After this, the process was simple just turning on the spigot and draining the cloudy wine(ish) into the carboy.

Easy Peasy, right? Ok… we closed the carboy with the bung and the airlock and then voila! Kevin hauled it over to the corner where an additional 10 days of fermenting will take place.


In the meantime, I am looking for an appropriate name for my creation.

Something hobo-y but with an edge.

I am considering naming it after Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, who was called Rebel Girl by the hobos as she tried to get them to become itinerent members of the Industrial Workers of the World and was also a founding member of the ACLU. The name Rebel Girl came to her from a song written by Joe Hill, noted Wobbly and hobo songwriter. She died while touring the Soviet Union and was awarded a state funeral by the Soviet government but afterward, as she had requested, she was interred in Waldheim Cemetery in Chicago beside the Haymarket Martyrs.

The other option is after Alice Mabel Gray. She was a recluse who lived in an abandoned shack in the Indiana Dunes. She was graduate of the University of Chicago with a degree in mathematics (which has destroyed many a sane mind through the years) and went to work at the U.S. Naval Observatory. In 1915, inspired sby Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage by George Gordon, Lord Byron, she left civilization to seek the seclusion of the dunes and to live off the land. Known to the locals as “Diana of the Dunes” she can still be seen on moonlight nights skinny dipping in Lake Michigan.

Feel free to let me know what you think… or if you have any other suggestions! In the meantime, I wait.