Sunday, 13 April 2014

Do You Think It's Harder To Bottle Or Un-bottle Wine?

If you love wine, you should have a turn at bottling wine too!

Living in a wine making region has moved the abstract idea of how wine gets into the bottle from the peripheral subconsious to the front and center..." oh, this is how its done!" followed by
" oh, this is jolly hard work."

A few of the big winemakers in the area do have machination of sorts, but for the smaller ones, all hands on deck is a familiar mantra. Bob and I will do a spot of bottling today. As easy as this sounds, there is a lot of manual work involved.

  • The empty bottles ( either refurbished & washed or new ) need to be spritzed with sulphur water, to make sure they are clean. We do that by pressing down the bottle over the nozzle of the spritzing device. After doing a few hundred, the biceps and shoulders start to tell their story.
  • A pump with what seems like a lot of hoses leading to & fro from it, needs to be assembled. Figuring out which switch is forward or backward, is always a new challenge especially if you have tasted the wine that is being bottled....The hoses go from the wine barrel through the filtering pump into the dispensary trough. It looks like a trough were the bottles get lined up to be filled by the delectable nectar of the gods.
  • Understandably the most fun is had at this station of the filling process. If you empty the wine trough to quickly or rather don't fill it quickly enough, the wine stops flowing. Only one thing left to do...the same thing you do to get petrol out of a tank. You have to syphon to get the wine flowing again. Needless to say, the person at this bottling station loves to run into a bottle neck and thus is rather a happy soul. The pre-taster of the wine!
  • " Bob put a cork in it! " is the call of the day. Oh yes, Bob is the corker. Oh my, his biceps get a good workout. Pushing that corker down a few hundred times is far from easy.
  • The co-ordinator or commonly known as The Boss or La Petite Général, flits between the various stations and also makes sure the filled bottles are filled to the correct level. Putting the filled & corked bottles into a crate and then onto the shelf is also not easy because you constantly have to bend and stretch.
  • Of course the most tedious job is always the washing of everything. Before and after, the equipment ( pump, hoses, barrels trough etc ) get cleaned with a high pressure water hose. Cleanliness is top when bottling wine.
  • The last job, gosh what a hardship, is to go to a Buschenschank for lunch...

Once you are privy to the wonderful process of creating delicious wine from a humble grape, an appreciation gets hold of you. A bottle of wine is not just a bottle of wine. It is a result of hard work, effort and lots of loving care by the vintner. Every sip of wine needs to be savoured and appreciated for the wonder that it is....