Is this wine safe to taste?
I rent a room in an old farmhouse in Portland, OR. Down in the basement is a pantry. And in the pantry are the artifacts of my landlady's old winemaking hobby. One of these artifacts is a 20 gallon glass jug, (car boy?) filled with a cloudy purple liquid. The jug is corked with a cork/hydrometer gizmo. The liquid in the jug comes about 1/3 of the way up the hydrometer. There is evidence of some evaporation, maybe about 2-3 inches.
Speaking with Pam, she figures it has been down there for about 25 years, made from grapes, (she doesn't remember the variety) that her father-in-law grew here in the Willamette valley. I uncorked it, and damned if it doesn't have the aroma of port.
So, I'm wondering, from a health viewpoint, is this wine safe to taste? Any dangerous microbes swimming around in it?
You're probably 99% safe. Most microbes don't enjoy the challenges involved in living in wine. If the concentration of sugar doesn't hold them off, the alcohol usually kills them. Even yeast doesn't really survive the fermentation process unscathed. Also, I hope that's a 20 liter (~5gal) carboy, not a 20 gallon one.
P.S. Is it cloudy because you've moved it around or was it just cloudy?
Just went down and looked again, larger than ten gallons, smaller than twenty. Also did something I should have done before; took a flashlight and shined it from the backside of the carboy back towards me. Not cloudy at all, dark red and clear. Cloudiness was just refraction from the glass jug. At the bottom of the carboy there seems to be a very fine layer of sediment.
I'm gonna give it a try, and will report back.