Thursday, February 20, 2014

Part 19: The Racking (Luke 5:37)

And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. (Luke 5:37, 38 NASB)

The entire process of converting grapes to wine is fairly amazing. The grapes are harvested, crushed, put in a vat, yeast is added, and the work begins. First the yeast reproduce, then they gobble up all the available sugars in the must. The period of yeast "eating sugar" is known as fermentation. During this time, the yeast give off waste products of alcohol and carbon dioxide. Because the carbon dioxide is a gas and is formed at the bottom of the vat, we can "see" the action of tiny bubbles (that seethe at times) on the surface of the vat. This fermentation over the first few days (7-10 days) is called primary fermentation. As the yeast use up the available sugars, the alcohol that is released begins to build up to levels that are toxic to the yeast. There comes a point when the level of alcohol is greater than the yeast can survive, and they begin to die. 

To bring the wine to full fermentation, an intervention is required. The wine must be "racked".  That is an odd term for transferring the wine to a second container. The transfer separates the developing wine from the dead yeast cells and the sediment of the fruit (leftover from the crushing) so that the fermentation can be completed. Winemakers call this secondary fermentation. This is not a second fermentation.  It is a completion of THE fermentation. 

You may remember (from the section on crushing) that the skin, seeds, and pulp from the wine's former life as a grape are allowed to remain for a while. Eventually, the remnants of the crushing will have to go, and this is the point where it is all removed. The grape will never be thought of as a grape again. Although it is not fully mature wine, it's well on its way and that former grape will forever after be considered wine. It is transformed. The process is not yet complete, but it is clearly underway. 

It's amazing to me that God, in His infinite mercy is so gentle to us. He tempers the crushing with His great love, allows us to keep the remnants of our former life far longer than seems sensible, and at the point where that former life has lost its luster for us, He separates us from it completely. We are transformed through this amazing process. It's a process all maturing believers experience. Where are you in this fermentation process?  Where is your loved one?

Pray today that we and our loved ones would quickly reach the end of our "primary fermentation", that point where our old life and old ways are stripped away, and we are transformed in such a way that we are "never a grape" again.