Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Fine Art of Winemaking

Grapes upon grapes of every color size and taste.
The wine barrel with the grape press on top

Everything goes in the barrel.
I have recently learned the secret behind the creation of Moldovan house wine and you as the reader are lucky that I have decided to recount exactly how this sacred ritual appears to happen as seen by an outside observer.

First things first you must grow the grapes. Luckily, in Moldova this is the easy part as everything grows super easily and without the need for pesticides or fertilizers(but that doesn't mean they don't use them).  Once the grapes have reached peak ripeness they must be picked and the easiest way to do so is to enlist the help of anyone you know that is willing to throw in a few extra hands in exchange for a sampling of the fruit of their labor. In this case three extra hands plus my host mother.  Once the grapes are picked they are brought to a barrel placed near the house that has a press set upon the top. Grapes are then crushed using the press and the juice, skin, and vine all go into the barrel together. Once all the grapes have been collected and pressed (save for one row that will serve as table grapes) the barrel is covered with a black garbage bag and allowed to ferment.

After about a day the mushy mixture will begin to bubble in the barrel emitting both a wine-like odor and also a very light crackling sound. To ensure proper fermentation prod the mixture occasionally with any stick that happens to lie around near the barrel. If you were to sample the mushy, bubbling mixture at this point it would taste approximately like sparkling grape juice. Foarte delicious.

After about 5 days of fermentation and gentle prodding it will be time to move the fermenting juice from the barrel by the house into a barrel in the cellar. This process is accomplished using a garden house and simply allowing the laws of gravity to work in your favor and take the greater proportion of juice from the outside barrel into the barrel in the cellar. The outside barrel will now be filled with everything that is not fermenting grape juice or at least at first glance it appears that way. In reality there is still a great deal of fermenting grape juice left in the barrel. The question remains as to how to separate it from the seeds, skin, and branches.

Well this is where a special handmade contraption comes in handy. Simply fill the contraption full of the refuse and use the contraption to squeeze every last drop of future wine from the refuse and instead into a waiting bucket. Although it is difficult to measure exactly it appears as though as much future wine can be saved using the squeezing contraption as was originally transferred into the barrel in cellar. Twice as much wine is never a bad thing. At this point in the process the fermenting grape juice has an opaque deep reddish-purple (burgundy?) color, reminiscent of beet juice.

Now the wine-making adventure is complete…at least as far as preparation goes. Now begins the waiting portion of the wine-making recipe. Expect for the wine to be mature enough for drinking around New Year's. But if you do not care to wait, there is always last year's wine which is now approaching its peak. Pofta buna.

 (Also if anyone who works for Blogger happens to read this blog please take note that I HATE ADDING PICTURES NOW. If you could be so kind to undo whatever change it is you have done. Thank you.)

Cover the barrel and let it ferment for a few days.

All the fermenting juice is then moved to this container in the cellar.
This is what is left in the barrel after the fermenting juice is removed.

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