•  

    In the last post we took grapes from the vineyard all the way to what I like to call the yeasties (not a legit term.) There are various types of yeast to chose from that affect change on the wine in different ways.

     

     

    Now they add the acid, if done at all. Depending on the rules of the region, it can happen at any time up to bottling. The tannins and color extracted (red wine) and the magical yeasties have used spells and potions to transform the sugar to alcohol. They paid the ultimate price and lie still at the bottom of the vat or barrel.

    *side note: These wondrous beings are now called Lees and are often used to impart flavor on white wines.

    The wine goes through another process that involves bacteria, called malo-lactic fermentation (even though it’s not actually a fermenting process.) The malic acid is transformed into a creamy lactic acid found in milk. The wine designer chooses at this point how much of the wine to allow to go through this. In order to stop the bacteria they blast the wine with a dose of sulfur dioxide (naturally occurring in wine.) Again this is a bit of a seesaw. The more you creamy your wine the less tang it will have, possibly creating a less intriguing wine.

    Here we put the wine into barrel if desired. So many choices abound at this point. Which type of oak will you use? Hungarian, American or French are the most common.

    *side note: Even though the barrel’s label may say France, it could be Hungarian oak just fashioned into a barrel in France (cheating.)

    The type of barrel toasting (when they torch the inside of the barrel for either a short time or a long time), and whether the barrel is brand new or has been previously used are factored in at this part of the game.

    *side note: The different oak types impart different flavors and aromas like caramel, smoke, cedar and vanilla as well as tannins onto the wine. So the newer the barrel the more prominent these characteristics are. Oak aging is essential for incredibly long aging. If one wanted the wine to speak for itself they might avoid oak all together.

    The aging of the wine begins at this point. If the grapes were well made and the verifying procedures were done with aging in mind then aging will make the wine better and better and better by integrating the tannins, softening the fruit characteristics and giving it greater complexity and a longer finish. In Barolo, Italy the law requires three years of barrel aging. California leaves it completely up to the wine maker.

    Wine evaporates out of the barrel at a rate of 5 to 7 gallons a year. This gives the wine a more concentrated complex character.  The maker of wine will top it off with more wine if the wine is aged for an extended period of time so as not to get too concentrated.

    If the wine is sitting on the Lees (dead yeast) for added character the barrels need to be rolled or bâtonaged to keep the Lees from imparting funky flavors and off aromas.

    *side note: Bâtonage is my favorite wine term: Taking a rod attached to a chain and inserting it into the bung hole then stirring to agitate the deposit (Lees.)

     

     

    Next step blending

    If there are various grapes to be mixed (which is very common) then this is typically when that will occur. Different barrels are blended as well to diminish the variations to make a more consistent wine. If the wine maker grew more than one clone of a grape those would also be blended in a way to create the desired end product.

    Follow me to the bottling line. It puts the juice in the bottle (or else it gets the hose again… sorry had to.. I was compelled.)

    Editor’s note: The author of this post is losing it. It has been found that dancing is a great way to avoid dementia. Maybe he should go dancing.

    Anyhoo the wine gets bottled and often sees more aging afterwards. Sparkling wine that has a secondary fermentation inside the bottle has a bunch of stuff happen here, but I’ll talk about that another time.

    Well that’s the end of the journey. Labels with animals or silly pictures get thrown on here, and then the wine gets sent to various places on the map for your consumption.

    There are a billion other details that take place along the way. Some of which I’ve talked about, some I have yet to talk about and still others will sit festering in my brain because they couldn’t find a way out.

     

    The delicious conclusion to Jeff’s story begins now…

     

    When last we left Jeff he had been shocked by the computer screen..

     

    “Mr Franzmer!  I’m not feeling to well.”  Jeff said while clutching his stomach.  “Can I go to the rest room?”

    “I’m afraid you’ll have to wait until class is over.”  He replied, seemingly happy that he could get Jeff back for all the trouble he’d caused him.

    Jeff tried to reply, but instead raced to the nearest trash can and threw up with the gagging sounds reverberating in the nearly empty trash can.  Ordinarily Jeff would have been pleased to have caused Mr. Franzmer so much anguish, but he truly was sick and now it was evident.

    “Why don’t you go straight to the nurse’s office.” Mr. Franzmer said just wanting to be rid of him.  “Take the trash can with you.”  He said as Jeff was getting his books.

    Jeff was glad he got out of that class, but couldn’t figure out what was going on.  Why had he gotten sick, what was that whole thing with the computer shocking him? Jeff stopped for a second.  Something enormous was standing in the hallway and it wasn’t human.  He set down the trash can and rubbed his eyes trying to get a better look at what it was.  It looked like a huge monster with spikes coming out of its shoulder. It barely fit in the hallway standing up, with its muscles and fur sticking out every which way.  On top of everything else it was orange with glaring red eyes.  Jeff paused for a second then dropped his books and ran in the opposite direction as fast as he could go.  Maybe the computer shocking him messed with his head, but he did not want to wait around and find out if he was hallucinating.  His shoes lacked traction and he was slipping more than he was moving on the newly waxed hall floor.  He turned back to see what was happening and saw that monster taking a bite out of his computer book.

    Jeff screamed and slipped at the same time so he barely had any noise make it passed his lips as a result of the wind being knocked out of him when he hit the ground.  He got up quickly and tried to run away, but it seemed like the harder he tried the slower he went.  The monster was catching up to him and the floor ahead was wet.  Jeff decided to keep running for it, but as soon as his feet touched the water he came crashing down head first and blacked out.

    Jeff was floating in a sea of black and heard a faint beeping sound calling him back to consciousness.  He finally awoke to the sound of his alarm going off.  “Are you ever going to wake up?”  He heard his mom say.

    “Was that all just a dream?”  Jeff rubbed his sore head as he questioned himself.  He got out of bed, got dressed, and went downstairs for breakfast.  “Mom, what day is it?”

    “Thursday,” she said as she handed him a plate of eggs and toast.

    “Well I guess I have to live the day all over again.”  Jeff mumbled.

    “What was that?”

    “Oh nothing.”

    Jeff left to school wondering what to make of everything that had transgressed.  He made it through Algebra without incident, never ran into Bobby the school bully, and decided it must have all been some strange nightmare because none of the bad things he had “dreamed” happened.  He went into computer class early, turned on his computer and it booted up just fine.  “That was weird, it just felt so real.”  Jeff said to himself.  He reached under his desk into his backpack and pulled out his computer book setting it on the table next to his computer without ever looking away from the screen.  If it was going to happen again Jeff wanted to see it, but so far nothing happened.

    “What did you do to your book?”  Martha asked.

    Jeff turned to look at his book only to notice a huge bite was taken out of the corner.