When One Door Opens

March madness merlot

By Lauren Lejeune
Posted 4/11/24

The end of March has arrived, spring is kind of in the air, and everyone is beginning to do a little bit of spring cleaning. That’s what my plan was at least. Nate and I were going to build …

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When One Door Opens

March madness merlot


The end of March has arrived, spring is kind of in the air, and everyone is beginning to do a little bit of spring cleaning. That’s what my plan was at least. Nate and I were going to build garden boxes and I was going to learn how to use all the tools and do all of the “man things,” as per my commitment to myself to learn one new thing a month. 

Needless to say, that did not happen. Which is fine, as long as I learn something, I will count it as a win. My wine project spilled over into this month, in an unfortunate event that had Nate, myself and two glass carboys spending a Saturday night together. 

For some backstory to this event, I had moved my wine into its secondary fermentation container, a glass carboy, and it had been sitting in its claimed corner of my room. Definitely more aesthetically pleasing than the white bin. When I had siphoned it into the carboy, there was much deliberation online over how much headspace you should leave from the airlock to the top of the wine. Some said a few inches and others said almost zero space. I chose to go with the former, leading to an almost fatal mistake in this whole journey. 

You see, when wine, or any alcohol I presume, has too much contact with the air, it begins to oxidize and can actually spoil your wine. There’s more scientific terms for it, but from the research I did it’s a pretty big deal and you do NOT want this to happen. In the craziness of the last few months, I siphoned my wine into the carboy and was all too happy to let it sit there undisturbed for a while. 

One day, I stopped to really look at what was going on with it, and the whole top of the wine was covered in this white film. I felt my heart stop. All of that work just for it to spoil, is what I was thinking. Thankfully I did some research before I decided to toss it, and if caught early, you can gently poke through the film and siphon your wine out and into a new container, leaving almost zero headspace in the next one. So that’s what we did. We took the other carboy that I had and the siphon tube and went to work. 

I couldn’t use my actual siphon tool because you have to essentially pump it and that would cause too much movement in the wine, so I decided it would be best for Nate to use his mouth and suck the wine out of the carboy and into the next one. I precariously balanced the almost 8 gallons of wine on the side of my bathtub, and the new carboy was placed on the floor. Every time Nate would get a mouthful of wine, he would spit it into the tub because he was worried about the floaties in the wine (rest assured, I will be straining it before it’s bottled, I promise) and didn’t want to swallow it. 

After a while, he told me his tongue was starting to feel numb, and he thought the alcohol content was super high. He also said it was really good wine and he doesn’t really even like wine! So I’ll take the win. It took us forever to move all of the wine into its new home, but when we did, there was still some headspace left in the carboy. I read that when this happens, people use a similar wine from the store and mix it with theirs to fill the rest of the space. I tasted the wine, decided it tasted like merlot but grapier (I don’t think that’s the correct term but it makes the most sense) and headed down to the liquor store. I’m sure the lovely lady who let me buy all of her big bottles of merlot had her thoughts, but was very helpful. 

I dumped the wine into the carboy, filling it to the top. I’d say it’s closer to 9 gallons now, if not more. She now sits in my living room as a vital piece of house decor until it’s ready to be bottled at the beginning of May. This has not been an easy task, but I have most definitely learned from my mistakes and especially enjoyed our high stakes rescue mission. 

Next month for me is garden boxes and possibly oil painting.