Monday, January 31, 2005

Gentleman Vintner

I have put my kit Pinot Noir into the fermenter! It's a Vino del Vida kit from R.J. Spagnols, and from a brief search around Google Groups (Usenet) the VdV line of kits occupies the middle-to-lower-range in terms of price, ingredient quality and complexity, but has received fairly good marks from hobbyist winemakers. I got my kit for $50.

The kit came with about seven liters of Pinot Noir grape juice concentrate, and called for being diluted to 23 liters (five Imperial Gallons, or close to six U.S. gallons). I wound up spilling a cup or two of the concentrate, since the bag it came in was sort of unwieldy, but the rest of the process went fine, and the must (juice and yeast mixture) is being munched upon by the yeast as I type. The whole process of going from juice to a young wine ought to take around four weeks; aging to best taste ought to take another two to six months after that. The good news is that six gallons ought to yield thirty(!) 750ml bottles of wine, so there'll be plenty of wine to sample along the way to maturity. Here's hoping it's good stuff.

The kit also included some toasted oak powder (sawdust, really) for adding just before the yeast, and it was uncanny: my kitchen had been redolent with Grape beforehand, but adding oak to it took me back instantly to the barrel rooms I toured in Washington state this past summer. Wonderful! Dad also made the point that when the yeast really gets going (tonight or tomorrow) my house is really going to smell like a million bucks. Definitely looking forward to it.

So has this guy completely forsaken beer?
Nope, I'll be making the long-promised hazelnut porter this Saturday, before heading to Matt's to watch the Eagles pound the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

I do think I've got my fermentin' groove back.


PS. The title is a reference to my post Gentleman Brewer from back in 2002.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

New Blogroll at Left

As one is wont to do, I've begun to collect links for wine- and food-related blogs and other sites that interest me.

Those that are good enough to recommend I shall place at left.


Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The Lameness Continues

Yes, the wine and beer are still unmade. No excuses, but it was a very cold Sunday.

Still, Leslie and I did do a fair amount of wine shopping in the gathering wind and chill of Saturday evening. I'm trying to educate myself in the world of sparkling wine, so we picked up a number of bottles, from a lowly Asti Spumante to a very nice-looking Domaine Ste. Michelle Blanc de Noirs.

More notes to come.


Friday, January 21, 2005

My Obsession with Fermentables Continues (Revives?)

I've been on a bit of a fermentation hiatus, pretty much since I came to Birmingham back in '03. There are many reasons I've given myself for this, from my work schedule to the state of cleanliness of my house to the turns of the weather. No more!

I have, of late, been reading more and more about the making of one's own wines, and I believe that it's (finally) time for me to try my hand at it. I've had the same Pinot Noir wine kit in my closet for around six months, and it's high time that I pull it out and get it started.

I really do need to find myself Riesling and Gewurztraminer kits as well, and see whether I can make them do anything interesting--lately most of my wine drinking has centered around those two grapes, and the crisp/clean/sweet/spicy combination is one that I definitely want to experiment with. I'm also hot to vinify the juices of some other fruits: peaches, strawberries, apples and pears (and blends thereof!) to name a few. I'm also interested in probing the wiles of the Muscat grape, and perhaps even finding out what the Concord and local Muscadine varieties offer (outside of jam jars).

Leslie (a Riesling and Gewurz advocate herself, but a hater of any red wine that's not Lambrusco) is cautiously excited: I've been all talk and no toenails here for a goodly while.

But what about beer?
Don't worry, I will still punch out the occasional brew, but my interest in barley beverages has waned as wine has waxed in my imbibing. I've promised Hunter and the members of my IT department here a hazelnut porter for nearly as long as I've been promising the Pinot, so that needs doing as well.


Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Fed Up

I decided today that I'm tired of messing around with Earthlink (if you've dropped by the past few days, you may have noticed that the images have been missing thanks to their shutting my account off--due, of course, to a billing SNAFU). They seem to have reached the size and complexity that they can no longer confidently answer questions about their service, or indeed bill a person competently. They said my account would be up and running by yesterday evening, and it's today and still MIA.

Too bad. I have switched all the images and links (beer glossary, etc.) on the site over to the webhosting provided by my ISP, Charter. Please let me know if you find any missing images or broken links that have '' in the URL.


Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Starting Off the New Year

Wow, it's 2005. There's been both more and less fanfare than I expected. 2004 was a truly eventful year, and others have blogged extensively on some of the particulars, but I for one was eager to get 2004 in the hopper and move on; 2005 had been trying to get signed next to my signature for several weeks prior to this past Saturday.

A new year usually comes with a bevy of resolutions, and this year I'm no exception:

Leslie and I have been very good to one another over the nearly eight months we've been going out--too good, in some ways, and now we're seeing the need to be good for one another as well. I've got a good 20 pounds to lose to get myself back to where I met Leslie, and she informs me she wants to shed a few to feel satisfied herself, so we're going on a bit of an austerity program. I'm reactivating my Hacker's Diet activity, and she'll be hitting the treadmill and eating less according to her own preferences. We'll be walking after dinners (she has a great loop around her apartment complex), and I'm investigating the area around southeastern Birmingham for exercise clubs with pools, since we both enjoy swimming. It'll be good to have a partner.

This one is mainly for me, but again, Leslie and I are a trifle too lavish when it comes to eating out and doing things with one another that involve expenditure. We've decided upon one weekly "date night" where we spoil ourselves, and otherwise we keep the spending down to a dull roar. I received all sorts of great cooking gear over the Christmas holiday, so cooking from ingredients will be a more frequent thing for me as well, though Leslie already cooks for the two of us a great deal of the time.

...So between these two major resolutions Leslie and I are planning to leave a lot more leeway for "big fun" by cutting back (where it makes sense) on "small fun"--or at least expensive small fun.