A year ago, I wrote about saving homemade wine that had not turned out well by mulling it. This year, we’re grateful to have gained that knowledge, because this Christmas we have a lot of homemade wine that didn’t turn out!
Our last batch of wine, like most of the wine we’ve made, has developed ethyl acetate. Apparently, we’re allowing too much air in the top of the vat. This means we have almost 5 gallons of wine that smells like fingernail polish remover! The “fix” for this is to blow carbon dioxide through the wine using an aeration stone, a device used in aquariums. The experts say this might save the wine. We don’t have one handy, actually, so instead, we have an overly generous supply of mulling wine to while away our winter. Heating the wine during the mulling process cooks out the ethyl acetate.
It could be worse! True, we have to put up with that acetone smell for a while each time we make a batch, but once that cooks off, the mulled wine itself is delicious, and probably a lot lower in alcohol content than it had been.
I’m not sure what this means for our wine making career. It’ll be time to start again soon, I guess, with a lot more attention to excluding oxygen from the batch. I’m rather discouraged, but I’m sure I’ll pick myself up and start again. Maybe I should do it now, while I have a nice steaming cup of mulled wine (or five!) at my elbow to uphold my flagging spirits?