Slow Days: Peach Wine DIY, Bottling

People who are new to Fasting often pose the questions: “Can I really eat ‘anything I want’ on a Slow Day?” and “What should I eat on Slow Days?” To answer those questions, I have decided to add some blog posts to show some of the foods we eat on what the world calls NFDs [non-fast days] but which, in our house, we call ‘Slow Days.’ This feature will appear sporadically. 

Now for the answers. Can you really eat ANYTHING you want on a Slow Day? Not really. If you eat too many calories every Slow Day, you will not lose weight. There are many questions asked on the Fast Diet Forum which attest to that. Once in a while you can splurge, as long as it isn’t everyday. For what to eat on Slow Days, Dr. Mosley recommends a Mediterranean Diet. As for how we eat, an example follows.

Bet you thought I’d forgotten about that peach wine that we started a year ago! Mine has taken a l-o-n-g time to clear and maybe your’s did too. We have to wait until all the particles — the ‘lees’ — have settled, lest the wine be cloudy. This can take anywhere from 5 months to more than a year! It does not harm the wine to wait that long. You might have seen these words on a bottle of grape wine: ‘aged on the lees for 12 months’ or ‘sur lie.’ That is the wine-maker telling you that he/she left the wine in a barrel, settling, and in contact with the lees, for a long time. Some say that this adds more flavor to the wine. There is a quicker way to settle the lees, and that is by adding a chemical substance with various trade names. For me, the fewer chemicals I add to the wine, the better.

Equipment: several large [4-6 cup capacity] jars with lids. 5 wine bottles. 1 Liter measuring cup or equivalent. 5-7 corks, size #9. jar large enough to hold all the corks. Camden Solution. sugar + water hydrometer and cylinder. corking device.

Let’s get down to bottling now that the wine is crystal clear. First, we decant the wine off the lees. I like to sterilize [with Camden Solution, remember?] large jars, holding 4-6 cups, and pour the wine off the lees into the jars. Have a few jars available so you can pour from the fermenting bottle without stopping. If you pour some wine out, then put the bottle down, some of the lees will kick up and cloud the wine again. Cloudy wine at the bottom can be poured into an appropriately sized bottle and topped with an air lock. It will settle again, yielding some more wine in a month or two. The remaining lees can be poured down the sink. Wash 5 wine bottles and give them a sterilizing rinse.

Next, prepare a Simple Syrup. That’s 1/2 cup of granulated white sugar dissolved in a 1/2 cup of water — heating gently will help to dissolve the sugar. Pour boiling water in to a jar and add 5 corks. The corks will float so to submerge them fully, I put a smaller diameter jar on top of them to hold them down. Soak the corks for 10 minutes — not longer. After 10 minutes, drain the corks and keep covered.

You now need the hydrometer and the cylinder that goes with it. Sterilize them both. Take a good look at the hydrometer. See the line labeled 1.000? If you take the Specific Gravity [SG] of the wine and it floats at the 1.000 line [or closer to the 0.990 mark], then all the sugar that you initially put into the mixture has ‘fermented out’ and turned to alcohol. This produces a very dry wine, but with less flavor. Taste it and see how you like it. If you love it, go ahead and bottle it as is.

Here is the initial reading I took from my Peach Wine: ~0.904 Too dry. If, like me, you want to make a less dry wine, then you will want to add some of the Simple Syrup. Sterilize a 1 Liter measuring cup and pour 750 ml wine into it. Add a little bit — 1 Tablespoon? — of the syrup and pour the wine into the cylinder and test it again. Taste as you go — in little sips! If you get tipsy at this point, your judgement and small-motor skills will be impaired!

If you expect me to give you exact amounts, dream on — this is the ‘art’ of wine-making. Continue to taste and pour and test until it suits you. This time [it varies from batch to batch], the SG that tasted good to me was between the ’10’ and the ’20’ — about 1.015. When you find an SG level that appeals your taste, bottle it. To do that, pour the contents of the 1 Liter measuring cup into the clean bottle until the wine level is just a little way up the neck — 2- 3″ below the top of the bottle. The empty space between the bottom of the cork and the top of the wine is called “ullage.” Continue to adjust the SG for each bottle of wine and to fill the bottles to a good ullage. IMPORTANT: Since you have added more sugar, there is the risk that the sugar will start fermentation again. Then pressure builds up in the bottle and the cork explodes out of the bottle! You do not want your wine to go to waste, so add either 1/2 or a full Camden tablet to each bottle to stabilize it. This adds a little Sulfite to the wine which kills the bacteria.

Now you can cork the bottles. Take a cork [I use #9] and dip one end into Camden solution. Put that end into the corker [pictured above, center] and push it down to the lower end of the tube. Place the bottles on a surface lower than a counter: on the door of an open oven or the door of an open dishwasher or into a sink or on the floor. Stand near and above the bottle so you can get good leverage. Put the corker on the mouth of the bottle and, while keeping the corker upright, push down on the handles to move the cork into the bottle. Takes some getting used to… Put a label on the bottle [there are websites for that], telling the type of wine and the date of bottling.

And now you have a country wine of your own making. Resist the urge to drink a bottle tonight. The wine will improve if you ‘lay it down’ [put it on its side in a cool, dark place] for a month or so. Then you can cook with it or drink it with meals. Dear Husband, who knows a bit about wine, suggests that country wines are better chilled. Remember that the recommended amount of daily wine for women is 5 oz and for men it is 8 oz. Be responsible with alcohol — your health depends on it.

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