Double consonants are a killer in Italian pronunciation. In English, they pose no threat in speaking. “Band” and “banned” are pronounced the same.

In Italian, however, pronouncing these 2 words is completely different:
Babo is pronounced BAH-boh. Babbo is pronounced BAHB-(tiny pause)-boh.

Babbo means daddy in Italian. Babo is how we check sugar levels and the progress of fermentation.

Every day someone has to take a sample from each tank and measure and graph the babo reading.
Babo1a What the babo does is measure the specific gravity, or density of the must. Sugar is denser than alcohol, so as the yeasts are working, changing sugar to alcohol, the must becomes less dense.

(GEEK STUFF: Babo is differnt than Brix, which is a measure of the amount of sugar in the must. Babo has to be adjusted for temperature and measures density. Brix is the amont of sugar by weight in the must. Both tell you the same thing: How much potential alcohol the wine can have.)

Why do we do this every day? Because its important to make sure that the fermentation is going the way we want it to. We also take the wine’s temperature every day, to make sure that the fermentation isn’t too hot or too cold. What we want to see on a graph for white wine is a controlled, slow fermentation at between 16 and 19 degrees Cesius. Cool fermentation was the revolution that changed white wine in Italy. A slow, cool fermentation retains delicate aromas and flavors.

If we see a wine is too cold, and the fermentation too slow, the risk is to get a “stuck” fermentation, which will require a re-inoculation and warming of the must to get those yeasts working again. Sometimes a simple stir will jump-start the yeasts. But it has to be checked every day.
Babo2a The babo floats in the must and has graduated lines on top that you have to read:
Babo3 Here we have a reading of just over 20, which translates into a potential alcohol of about 13.8% for this sample. There’s also a thermometer in the babo for your temps.

With all of this data, the winemaker can check each tank (and there are many) to watch its progress graphically. There are so many things to keep an eye on, and this is just one of them. I’ve over-simplified a lot here, but the concept is this: observing and controlling the fermentation is essential to making the best wine we can with what nature gave us.

We can’t make bad grapes into good wine, but if you’re not careful every step of the way, you can easily make bad wine with good grapes.

As far as those double consonants go, be really careful with anno and anoAnno is year and ano is a medical term for a place where the sun doesn’t shine…


One thought on “BABO, not BABBO!

  1. joe b

    Nice work revealing the babo\babbo mystery….i always wondered how come people wanted to know how much “daddy” i had in my grape must!
    a good idea would be to document all the red grapes as they come in….like photo of cluster..leaf and then bellow the grape name…nice job on blog
    anyway to tell if we getting any hits??


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