My kids, when they want something, are very clever in presenting selling points that are likely to appeal to me: “A new computer will help me do better in school.” Or: “Playing football will help me lose weight“.
It’s important to keep learning, so I learned form them: “Honey, if we get a chest freezer – Home Depot has a good deal on one right now – we can use it to store all the stuff that doesn’t fit in the fridge.” And: “We’ll be able to save by buying bulk items and keep them in the chest freezer.” I was careful to add: “Except for a few weeks a year when I need to drop acids in a wine“.
Not that I expect to be deacidulating all of my wines every year, but chilling a wine does help precipitate bentonite and other things.
The critical aside here, is that while alcohol content lowers the freezing point of wine, it will still freeze. That is to be avoided.
So after picking up a demijohn for my Santa Clara Valley Sangiovese, I stopped at Home Depot and bought a 5 cubic foot chest freezer (“Honey, it’s an Energy Saver model!“) for $178, plus tax.
It will fit a 6.5 gallon carboy nicely. We can pack it off with other frozen food, as well. In all honesty, I hope that it will see considerably more use as a food freezer than a winery freezer.
This year, though, it will be desperately needed. I need to correct a white wine I over-acidulated (pH meter malfunction). And, then, there are my two 2012 reds from my vineyard which I picked too early. It was either that, or loosing the whole crop (#%@*!ing raccoons!… #%@*!ing hippies!).
I had made a tiny batch of rosé from my green drop fruit – just because. (When I say “tiny”, I mean 750 mL.) That has thrown quite a sediment in the fridge. The image on the left shows the tartrate crystals at the bottom of the rosé.
My Montepulciano registered 3.25 pH and my Aglianico came in at 3.3 pH. It’s very reasonable to expect the acids on the Montepulciano and Aglianico to drop quite a bit and noticeably improve those wines.
Those who read this blog regularly will know me to be a cheapskate. I don’t like to spend money on something unless I absolutely need it, I will use it frequently and I can find a way to buy it cheap.
So, to be honest, I expect to use this freezer, now and then, over the coming years. Wines, especially white wines, need to be chill stabilized. When the juice is very acidic, this may largely be for reasons of balance in taste. However, cold stabilization also has an aesthetic goal: it ensures that a consumer will not see (and be put off, or disturbed) by tartrate crystals in the finished wine.
While balance and taste matter to me, tartrate crystals do not. Whether I serve my wine to family or enter it in a competition, I want my wines to look good as well as taste good.
I could, of course, inform or educate the recipients of my wines about tartrate crystals in wines….