Welcome to our plot!

I'm Hazel, and in Nov 2006 my friend Jane and I took on a half plot at Hill Allotments, Sutton Coldfield - we want the satisfaction of growing and eating our own fruit and veg, and to improve our diet (and fitness!).

This is the story of what happened next...........

Monday, May 24, 2010

Rhubarb Wine - Day 14 to 3 months

The rhubarb wine will be fairly quiet now - maybe the odd 'blip' of air through the airlock - but pretty quiescent over all.

Now for the trickiest part of wine making, in my view - the syphoning of the wine from the demijohn into another - called 'racking the wine'. The purpose is to take all the yummy fermented wine (opaque as it still is at the mo) off from the layer of pale sediment at the bottom of the demijohn - which comprises dead yeast, bits of stray rhubarb & all sorts of other yuck which we don't want hanging about in our wine.

With the demijohn of wine on a worktop & a fresh demijohn (or bucket) on the floor, insert a long tube part way into the wine - but not all the way down into the yuck.

To get the wine flowing along the tube, suck the lower end to pull the wine up the tube & then QUICKLY put the sucky end into the lower demijohn/bucket (this seems a bit unhygienic to me, but I haven't worked out a way of sterilising my mouth as yet). As if by magic, the wine will flow up the tube out the top demijohn and down the tube into the lower. Hold the tube firmly into the lower demijohn/bucket - if it gets free there will be wine pouring out everywhere.

The idea is to get the good stuff up the tube & leave the sediment behind. The level of wine in the top demijohn will be going down at an alarming rate and you will have to concentrate to keep the tube in the top demijohn below the liquid level, but not so far down as to suck up the sediment. When the level is perilously close to the yuck in the top demijohn, pull the tube out at the top end.

Points to note:

- when you suck the tube to get the wine flowing, you are not attempting to drink the stuff, just to draw it up the tube sufficiently to get it out of the top demijohn
- swiftly taking the tube from your mouth and putting it into the lower demijohn/bucket is essential if you don't want to end up squirting the wine all over you and the kitchen floor - and is a catastrophic waste of your good wine.
- keep the tube firmly fixed into the lower receptacle while you concentrate on the top
- try not to suck up too much yuck, but if you do, it will always settle out as sediment & can be syphoned off again in due course.

Make a note of the SG & have a taste - I dithered about adding a couple of ounces of sugar as the SG reading was rather low (i.e. will be pretty dry wine), but a taste told me it was not mouth-puckeringly so - I compromised on adding an 1oz of sugar to sweeten it a little. The strength of this wine is 13.5% at the mo.

The demijohn can be put in a cool spare room/cellar for a couple of months, at which point it's likely to be clear - but with a small amount of sediment on the bottom, so we'll then go through this rigmarole again.

PS - A Confession

I extracted the juice of a pound of redcurrants that I had in the freezer to my rhubarb at start - I didn't mention it in order to keep proceedings simple - but it does seem to have added a very pleasant colour to the wine - it's more certainly more pink that it would have been using rhubarb alone.


  1. Not cheating - my dad used to add a small chopped beetroot to his sloe wine. The sloe could be a bit pink and he wanted it to look red. Result!

  2. I seem to remember way back we used to filter the wine through a couple of funnel like contraptions with some filter paper and white powdery stuff. Wine came out crystal clear at the bottom.

  3. Hm.. That does it! After reading your posts I'm itching to have ago myself I'm off to wilko's to get what I need :)

  4. It'll be interesting to see if the redcurrants affect the final taste, Flum, as well as the colour.

    Wine guru CJJ Berry seems to frown on filtering except in extreme circumstances, Matron - however I have been known to shove wine through an old stocking before now to aid clearing !

    Ha! Gotcha, Dee! Would love to hear how you get on with it. :)

  5. Help! My Hydrometer won't float, what have I done wrong?

  6. Sorry, Jenny, I didn't see your comment there!

    If the hydrometer is bobbing about really low in the wine sample, then it sounds like the SG reading is very low - i.e. the wine yeast has gobbled up all the sugar & turned it into alcohol, and give you a strong, dry wine.

    Can you read the number on the scale at all? Give the hydrometer a spin in the wine sample in order to dislodge any bubbles on the side, and to make sure the hydrometer doesn't snag on the side of the sample container, mucking up the reading.

    If you think you're in trouble with it, post more details (when you started the wine, initial SG, and whether it has been fizzing away like a good 'un for the first couple of weeks) and I'll see if we can get to the bottom of it! Also, the GYO Grapevine forum has a really good section on home brewing at http://www.growfruitandveg.co.uk/grapevine/juicy-gossip/

  7. Hi, the wine only fizzed for 3 or 4 days? Maybe it wasn't warm enough, I put it in the pantry as there are freezers in there and it gets quite warm. The 1st reading was 1.090 and now it just sinks to the bottom. Should I just put in the Demijons and hope for the best?

  8. I hope this isn't a daft question, Jenny, but is your hydrometer ok? Test it by putting it in water - it should read 1.000. If it sinks to the bottom in water, then it's knackered!

    As the wine has been fizzing, it has been fermenting, so - yes - I'd put it into a demijohn with an airlock & wait for it to clear.

  9. Hi Hazel,
    I have just put the Hydrometer in a glass of water, it sank to the bottom! Will have to return it to Wilko's.

    Thanks for you help

    At least the allotment is begining to look good. Like yourself the first fruits of our labour were some broad beans. The lettuce is also ready now and hasn't been attacked by any critters!

  10. Ha! It's always good to know that something isn't your fault, isn't it? Hope the wine turns out well for you.

    I'll have lettuces ready soon, too. The slugs seem to be confining themselves to my climbing beans - they've had virtually all of the direct sown ones. Boo!


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