Swaddling the merlot

Merlot swaddlingThe Franc’s really leapt out ahead of the Merlot in the race for dryness (15 brix versus 20), and my guess is that’s in large part because it’s in a container that holds heat better (plastic versus stainless steel). Luckily, the conductivity of the steel walls also theoretically means insulating it around the outside will have at least some effect, so that’s what I tried tonight. Click on that picture: isn’t it adorable?!

With luck, the swaddling (yoga mats and a sleeping bag – yes, this is a left coast winery) will warm the merlot’s cockles overnight so we’re at least into the 70s for ferment temperature tomorrow.

That still leaves us about 10 degrees shy of where we need to peak, which is somewhere around (but not much above) 85 degrees. What we’re counting on is that as the wild yeasts currently powering our brew start to flag toward the end of the ferment, Saccharomyces cerevisiae (the “true” and more alcohol tolerant yeast varieties) will swoop down from the rafters and take the ferment all the way home. What I don’t know is if those strains will also kick out more heat and take us at least briefly through the full temperature range that will get us the rich, complex wine of our dreams.

My suspicion is that we shouldn’t count on it, and had better have a heating backup in our holster. In the past, we’ve rigged little plastic-sheet walls around the fermenters and stuck a space heater inside, something I’ve never been really jubilant about (as someone living in the wooden house just above it), but will probably have to consider. Certainly it’ll be easier with the stainless, since that will conduct heat in as easily as it conducts heat out (versus the plastic).

Any ideas? We’ll see how things go in the next 48…

1 comment

1 Comment so far

  1. JMCQ October 9th, 2007 11:05 pm

    Since it’s already wrapped, how about doing it kotatsu-style, with a light bulb, if not an actual kotatsu-type heater, under the skirt?