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Making The Wine

As we have our apparatus all prepared now, we can commence the
operation itself. This can be done in different ways, according to the
class of wine we are about to make.

To make white, or light-colored wine, the grapes which were gathered
and mashed during the day, can be pressed and put into the cask the
following night. To mash them, we place the mill above one of the
fermenting vats, mashing them as quick as they are carried or hauled to
the press-house. The vat is simply covered with a cloth during the day.
If the season has been good, the must will make good wine without the
addition of anything else. In poor seasons it will be necessary to add
water and sugar, to improve its quality, but I will speak of this
method in a separate chapter. In the evening, the must which will run
off, is first drawn from the vat, and by some kept separate; but I
think, it makes, upon the whole, a better wine, if the pressing is
added to it. The husks, or mashed grapes, are then poured upon the
press, and pressed until fully dry. To accomplish this the press is
opened several times, and the edges of the cake, or "cheese," as some
call it, are cut off with an axe or cleaver and put on top, after which
they are pressed down again. The casks are then filled with the must;
either completely, if it is intended that the must should ferment
_above_, as it is called, or _under_, when the cask is not completely
filled, so that the husks, which the must will throw up, will remain in
the cask. Both methods have their advantages, but I prefer the former,
with a very simple contrivance, to exclude the air, and also prevent
waste. This is a siphon or tin tube, bent in the form of a double
elbow, of which one end fits tightly in the bung hole, and the other
empties into a dish of water, to be set on one end of the cask, through
which the gas escapes, as shown in Fig. 30.

We should, however in pressing, be guided somewhat by the weather. In
warm weather fermentation will commence much sooner, and be more
violent, than when the weather is cold. Consequently we should press
much sooner in warm weather, than when the air is cool. Late in the
fall, it is sometimes advisable to leave the must a day longer on the
husks, than indicated below. The cellar should be kept at an even
temperature of about 60 deg. during the first few weeks, and if it does not
naturally attain this temperature, then it should be warmed by a stove,
as much of the quality of the wine depends upon a thorough fermentation
during the first ten days.

When violent fermentation has ceased, say after about ten or twelve
days, and the must has become quiet, the cask should be closed with a
tight bung, and the wine is left until it is clear. In about two to
three months it ought to be perfectly clear and fine--is then racked,
_i.e._, drawn from the lees, by means of a faucet, and put into clean,
sweet casks. It is very important that the casks are "wine-seasoned,"
that is, have no other tang than of wine. For must, fresh brandy or
whiskey casks may be used, but after the wine has fermented, it will
not do to use such, as the wine will acquire the smell and taste of the
liquor. When a cask has been emptied, it should be carefully cleaned,
as before described, by entering at the door, or with smaller casks, by
taking out the head. After it is thoroughly cleansed, it may be
fumigated slightly, by burning a small piece of sulphured paper, or a
nutmeg in it, and then filled. To keep empty casks in good condition
they should, after cleaning, be allowed to become thoroughly dry, when
they are sulphured, closed tightly, and laid away in the cellar. The
operation of sulphuring should be repeated every six weeks. If wanted
for use, they are simply rinsed with cold water.

For racking the wine, we should have: 1st a large brass faucet. 2d.
Pails of a peculiar shape, wider at the top, to prevent wastage. 3d. A
wooden funnel, as shown in Fig. 31, to hold about six gallons. In
racking--first carefully lift the bung of the cask, as the exclusion of
air from above would cause a gurgling motion in the cask, if tapped
below, which would stir up the lees in the bottom. Then, after having
loosened with a hammer the wooden peg, closing the tap hole, let your
assistant hold the pail opposite the hole, hold the faucet in your
right hand, and with the left, withdraw the plug, inserting the faucet
quickly. Drive it in firmly with a hammer, and you are ready for the

Do not fully open the faucet at first, because the first pailful is
generally not quite clear, and should run slowly. You can keep this by
itself; and this, and the last from the lees, is generally put into a
cask together and allowed to settle again. It will make a good, clear
wine after a few weeks. As soon as the wine runs quite clear and
limpid, it can be put into the cask destined to receive it, and you can
let it run as fast as it can be emptied. When the wine has run off down
to the tap hole, the cask may be carefully raised on the other end, one
inserting a brick or piece of board under it, while the other lifts
gently and slowly. This may be repeated several times, as long as the
wine runs clear; and even the somewhat cloudy wine may be put with the
first pailful into a separate cask. As soon as it comes thick or muddy,
it is time to stop. The lees are emptied out, and will, if distilled,
make a fine flavored and very strong brandy.

This treatment can be applied to all white and light-colored wines,
when it is not desirable to have a certain astringency in the wine. The
Catawba, Concord, Herbemont, Delaware, Rulander, Cassady, Taylor,
Louisiana, Hartford Prolific, and Cunningham should all be treated in a
similar manner. The Concord, although it will, under this treatment,
make only a light red wine, of which the color can be changed to dark
red by fermenting on the husks, is not desirable if treated in the
latter manner; as the peculiar foxy aroma of the grape will be imparted
to the must to such a degree, as to make the flavor disagreeable, I
shall recur to the subject of flavor in wines in another chapter.

To make red wine, the must should be fermented on the husks, as
generally the darkest color is desired, and also, a certain
astringency, which the wine will acquire principally from the seeds,
skins, and stems of the grapes, which contain the tannin. The grapes
are mashed, and put into the fermenting vat, of the kind described
before, with false bottoms. After the vat is filled about three-fourths
the false bottom is put on, the husks are pressed down by it, until
they are covered about six inches by the must, and the cover put on. It
is seldom desirable here to ferment longer than three days on the
husks, if the weather is warm--in a temperature of 60 deg.--two days will
often be enough, as the wine will become too rough and astringent by an
excessively long fermentation. Only experience will be the proper guide
here, and also the individual taste. It will be generally time to
press, when the must has changed its sweet taste, and acquired a
somewhat rough and bitter one. Where it is desired to make a very dark
colored wine, without too much astringency, the grapes should be
stemmed, as most of the rough and bitter taste is in the stems; and it
can then be fermented on the husks for six or eight days. In this
manner the celebrated Burgundy wines are made; also most of the red
wines of France and Germany. Many of them are even allowed to go
through the whole process of fermentation, and the husks are filled
into the cask with the must, through a door, made in the upper side of
the cask; and it there remains, until the clear wine is drawn off. This
is seldom desirable here, however, as our red wine grapes have
sufficient astringency and color without this process. The treatment
during fermentation, racking, etc., is precisely the same as with white
wine, with only this difference, that the red wine is generally allowed
to stay longer on the lees; for our object in making this class of wine
is different than in making white, or so-called Schiller or light red
wine. In white and light colored wines we desire smoothness and
delicacy of bouquet and taste; in dark red wines, we desire astringency
and body, as they are to be the so-called stomach or medical wines. It
is therefore generally racked but once, in the latter part of February
or March, and the white and light colored wines are racked in December
or January, as soon as they have become clear--and again in March. We
also use no sulphur in fumigating the casks, as it takes away the color
to a certain extent. We generally do not use anything, but simply clean
the casks well, in racking red wine.

I will say a few words in regard to _under_ fermentation. If this
method is to be followed, the casks are not filled, but enough space
left to allow the wine to ferment, without throwing out lees and husks
at the bung. The bung is then covered, by laying a sack filled with
sand over it, and when fermentation is over--as well by this as by the
other method--the casks are filled with must or wine, kept in a
separate cask for the purpose. The casks should always be kept well
filled, and must be looked over and filled every two or three weeks, as
the wine will continually lose in quantity, by evaporation through the
wood of the casks. The casks should be varnished or brushed over with
linseed oil, as this will prevent evaporation to some extent.

In wine making, and giving the wine its character, we can only be
guided by practice and individual taste, as well as the prevailing
taste of the consuming public. If the prevailing taste is for light
colored, smooth and delicate wines, we can make them so, by pressing
immediately, and racking soon, and frequently. If a dark colored,
astringent wine is desired, we can ferment on the husks, and leave it
on the lees a longer period. There is a medium course, in this as in
everything else; and the intelligent vintner will soon find the rules
which should guide him, by practice with different varieties.

Among the wines to be treated as dark red, I will name Norton's
Virginia, Cynthiana, Arkansas, and Clinton, and, I suppose, Ives'
Seedling. It would be insulting to these noble wines to class with them
the Oporto, which may make a very dark colored liquid, but no _wine_
worth the name, unless an immense quantity of sugar is added, and
enough of water to dilute the peculiar vile aroma of that grape.

Next: After Treatment Of The Wine

Previous: The Wine Casks

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