Popping the Cork


The rhubarb wine is crisp and sweet and wonderfully pink!

At one point I had wine splashed across my arms and t-shirt, a little on my housemate, and the rest all over the carpet. It was a lot like a riotous celebration, only much more disappointing because my wine was still a long way from ready and I had only meant to meant to drain a sample, not the whole bottle.

poppin1.gifIf you were planning to try out my recipe, here is what you need to know: yeast doesn’t just turn sugar into alcohol, it makes alcohol plus carbon dioxide. That second substance needs lots of space and was delighted to be let out of the bottle when uncapped it to test its gravity.

So until fermentation is complete it is really important to allow the pressure out. After realising the mistake of bottling too early, I got my hands on a purpose built fermenter with a neat little airlock (check it out here). This allows air to escape but not enter, and because CO2 is denser than oxygen, it means that the latter will be pushed out of the top. It turns out that in the presence of oxygen, your alcohol will react and be destroyed – hence why on open bottle of wine goes bad after a couple of days.


This tool, called a hydrometer, will tell you categorically whether your wine is ready to bottle. By taking a reading before and then during/after fermentation, you can calculate how much alcohol you have produced. Crucially though, it will also tell you when it is safe to bottle your wine; or  when there is so little sugar left that its fermentation wont explode your bottle.

It is certainly true that being meticulous produces better results. But it is also true that if you don’t start, you’ll have nothing at to show for it.

I’d love to hear about your results.




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