[Warning: Not exciting. ]
I started this year with a depleted wine ‘cellar’ (nearly nothing) and when I saw some plums going cheap (a £1 a kilo, from vague recollection) I snapped up a couple of kilos to begin this year’s production. [B1]
When I got them home and started preparation I realised I’d been seduced by cheapness and ignored the quality as they were a bit brownish inside and lacked juiciness. I prefer plums with purple juicy flesh and these weren’t it, not at all. I went ahead and they seemed to start fermentation well enough but lacked the vigour I remember from the past.
I kept tasting to see if it really was producing something pleasant and alcoholic – so much so that the demijohn level was visibly diminished, to about two-thirds of a gallon. Could that really be due to me tasting it?
Two or three weeks later I saw some more and these looked purple and juicy ones, so I got some more and started a second batch. [B2] These were the juicy ones I sought and I had high hopes. The following week I got some more from the same place but these turned out similar to the first batch – browner and drier. [B3] Note: I must rein in my enthusiasm for buying plums on a whim and learn to consider the quality before purchase.
So, three batches. I continued to sample the first one and now it looks like there’s only half a demijohn left and none of the three are gluggling with the energy I’d expect. Then I realised the yeast is a bit old as I buy it in a little tub for a couple of quid but once it’s been open for three months it loses vigour and this was opened last October, six months ago.
Yesterday I went to the local town market and saw the nice wine supplies lady, had a chat and got some more yeast. I put it in all three when I got home but still didn’t notice much vigour.
Today I transferred each to another jar (what’s the term? ‘racked’) to leave the sediment behind and was a bit disappointed when I tasted them.
B1 is now in two plastic bottles. It’s ok, I suppose.
B2 seemed a bit bland. The sugar it supposed to turn to alcohol so it should be either still too sweet or noticably alcoholic but this seems to be neither. When I transferred B3 from first stage fermentation to a demijohn, I also racked B1and B2 and mistakenly put sugar in the wrong batch. Until today I thought it was B1 which suffered from excess sugar but now realise it must have been B3. Anyway, I put more sugar in B2 and then noticed some gentle activity.
B3 – bleugh! too sweet. Maybe with new yeast it’ll feed on the sugar and make it drinkable. I hope so.
Overall, it’s not a disaster. If I’d bought half a dozen bottles of wine at £5 each and found it undrinkable I’d have lost £30 and for three gallons it would have been a £90 loss. As it is, each gallon made with bought plums cost under £5 and may be redeemable so I see it as a learning experience with some wastage.
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