When it comes to meads, wines, and high gravity beers, I think Tom Petty said it best: the waiting is the hardest part. Now, Mr. Petty may not have had fermentation in mind when he penned those words, but I certainly keep those words at heart in those long months between brewing and drinking.
But the wait is usually worth it. It’s been about 6 months since we left the Raw Organic Red Wine in the cellar to ferment and settle out. It was delicious before it even went into the carboy, so it could only be better after half a year to age and settle. It’s still in its
primary secondary fermenter, and it will need even more time in a secondary tertiary before it’s ready to bottle, which means more waiting. It truly is the hardest part.
While we’ve been anxiously waiting for the wine, I’ve been eyeing the 6.5 gallon carboy that it was occupying for quite a while. Dreams of a big beefy imperial stout danced in my mind, and I know I’ll need the extra headspace of an oversized carboy if I want to ferment 5 gallons of 1.090 wort without making a giant mess. Since we didn’t have an oversized carboy available, I’d need to relocate that wine. But since we didn’t have an oversized carboy available, where would the concord wine go?
Thankfully, we have some options available. My first idea was to rack it into a 5 gallon carboy, then chug the leftovers, but common sense vetoed the plan of chugging a gallon of >14% abv wine. Plan B is to use not one 6 gallon carboy, but two 3 gallon carboys. Much easier on my liver, and no need to buy more fermenters.
Operation divide and conquer went off without a hitch, we were left with 2 carboys full of concord wine, one glass of wine for sampling and measuring the gravity, and one empty carboy with a colorful layer of sediment.
On first tasting, we were all blown away. It has a definite grape presence with just enough of the Welch’s grape juice flavor so characteristic to the concord grape, enough to taste it without being overly cloying. The alcohol burn is barely noticeable, balanced perfectly by the tiny amount of residual sugar. Though, that could prove dangerous, as this tasty beverage is packing a downright terrifying 16% abv. (A new high water mark for the potency of our concoctions!) Trust me, you can’t tell.
If it smells like wine, tastes like wine, and looks like wine, it deserves to be in some fancy stemware! So, I pulled out one of my favorite wine glasses and transferred the wine from the mason jar mug it was in. Much more appropriate.
I’ll try the hardest I can to give this at least another 3 months before bottling. I should be able to pass some of that time by brewing up that Imperial Stout. But, once that’s done, I’ll have two things to wait for. Oh well, I’ll just keep humming Tom Petty songs. I can see why they were called The Heartbreakers.