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Exploding microbiologist

Posted by Shae on December 11, 2002

In Reply to: Viticulture Variations (subtitle: Owed to a Wine Whine) posted by Woodchuck on December 11, 2002

: First a restoration from prior posts:

: ***begin paste***
: In Reply to: taking wine in the wood posted by R. Berg on December 11, 2002

: : : dear friends
: : : does anyone know the meaning of this phrase?
: : : it is from a text from the 19th century and it is enscribed on a letter paper of little girls.
: : : thank you very much
: : : miri

: : It might mean nothing more than drinking wine in a forest. Can you provide more context?

: Two thoughts: "wine in the wood" is young wine, still in the oak barrel.

: ***End paste, and now picking up from Ms Berg's post in reply to Karl who deleted the above. Identifiers added for clarity****

: (Woodchuck): : "In France, there are village fetes every September where the wine is sampled after the first fermentation (i.e. before being bottled, from the barrel)."

: (Karl): : Almost no grapes are harvested until the middle of October, certainly none before the last week in September. Wine undergoes its fermentation prior to being put into barrels. If it fermented inside the barrels, the barrels would explode.

: : : Your reading of the phrase "wine in the wood" as marked on young girls' notepaper sounds likely, but you should leave the wine trail stories to someone else.

: (R. Berg): Excuse me: In the grape-growing region that I came from--admittedly, not in France--September is the month for most harvesting.

: Woodchuck replies: Ms. Berg is correct and Karl should check his facts. Wine is produced by a two-stage fermentation process referred to as 'first stage fermentation' and 'second stage fermentation'.

: Karl is thinking of the second fermentation. Plug "September Vendange" into any search engine and you will find early September is indeed the grape harvest.

: Yeast is added to the fresh juice in oak barrels or more modern steel vats. In the first fermentation, yeast is converted into equal parts of carbon dioxide and alcohol. They don't bung the barrels tightly or yes, they would explode.

: In my home set up for apple champagne, I mix cider and champagne yeast in a big clean glass cranberry juice and plug it with a cork I've drilled a hole in. I fit tubing into the hole and place the free end in a jar of water making a cheapie one-way airlock so the CO2 can escape.

: At any rate, at the end of September, the grape harvest is over and there is a festival. They sample the wine which has been fermenting but couple of weeks. As I said:

: : : It's only mildly alcoholic and very fruity and effervescent at this stage so I will hazard a guess your notepaper dates from the Victorian era and is a metaphor for the fresh and lively charms of youth.

: It's in the second stage of fermentation that, the remainder of the alcohol is developed.

: Perhaps the second fermentation is what Karl had in mind, as he doesn't seem to have any patience with orderly progress, so he leaps willy nilly and ill-prepared into middle obliterating all that came before. ;)

: *** End of winemaking discussion. The rest of my post re: Chesterton on Dickens follows***

: : : : I also vaguely recalled a related Chesterton quote, but as the library isn't open at 3 am, I could only try Google and found:

: : : : "G.K. Chesterton, in what is still one of the best introductions to the Dickens world, stressed the immense joviality-the bacon in the rafter and the wine in the wood-a Pickwick feast of snowballs and plum puddings." (John Bayley reviewing Kaplan's biography of Dickens in the New York Review of Books, January 18, 1989)

: : : : Hmm...Maybe a glass of wine will help me get to sleep!

The ins and outs of this thread are perplexing but I must correct :

(Manna from Heaven? Sorry!)

'In the first fermentation, yeast is converted into equal parts of carbon dioxide and alcohol.'

Yeast is not converted into equal parts of either. Yeast converts the sugars in grapes to carbon dioxide and alcohol with enthusiasm because it thinks sugar is yummy. CO-2 and alcohol are yeastish excretory products. The poor yeast guys haven't learned yet that their excretory product of most interest to humans kills them when the concentration of alcohol approaches 14% vol/vol. Many European wine producers stop the fermentation process when the alcohol content reaches 11.5 - 12%, vol/vol but their New World competitors allow it to continue to 13% or even 13.5%.

Shae (sipping a Mellow Merlot!)