Tuesday morning, at 4:30, all was quiet. Suddenly, a shot rang out!
I thought I was having a bad dream. Not “bad” in the nightmare sense, but as in poor quality. Michelle and I jolted awake.
“Sounds like breaking glass,” Michelle said. We immediately looked for the cat, and found her on the bed with us. She, too, sat up and looked around in confusion.
A wine bottle had exploded under the stairs, in “the wine cellar.”
I got up and checked the newly bottled birch wine (see Birch Batch) but thankfully, it showed no signs of trouble. I found a long bottle shard just outside the cubby where we store much of our wine. That led directly to the discovery of wet, glass-littered, extremely cramped space.
It took me about half an hour to clean it all up, not bad considering what it could have been, I suppose. I found that the over carbonated wine had forced the cork upward, where it met the roof of the space and stopped. I found another bottle in the same situation. I put on thick gloves and managed to free it from the space. The cork popped immediately. I put an airlock on the top of the bottle, and we drank it “young” and frissant that evening. The remaining three bottles show no sign of distress at the moment, but I’m not going to trust them.
I’m disappointed by this incident. I like to use the bottles they use for Charles Shaw wine, commonly called “Two Buck Chuck.” They’re smaller than many wine bottles, which makes them easy to store. Unfortunately, their very thin glass, so they’re far more likely to break from handling or explosively carbonated wine. I don’t think I’ve lost more than a couple of these bottles to explosion since we made our second try at making wine five years ago (see A Return to the Vineyard). In that time, I’ve also learned that even robust bottles may fall victim to explosion when we make our sodas (see Bottle Rocket).
Further, I’m a bit discouraged by how many of my batches, particularly of grape wines, turn out “frissant.” Some are very light, others may as well be called wine soda. Michelle likes it, and others who have sampled it say they do, too, so it’s not a total failure. Still, that’s not “the way it’s supposed to be,” and I’m working to change it. I had hopes that changing to different yeasts, but this latest, explosive batch, indicates that there’s something else to consider here.
What’s puzzling is that it stubbornly stays carbonated after a certain point. I just know that were I making soda, and wanted the carbonation, many of these same batches would go flat on me! It makes me wonder if trying for soda might produce proper wine? It might be worth a try . . . .