Sunday, July 15, 2007

Bottling Your Homemade Wine II

Deborah BottlesFrom the time your wine has completed its fermentation it should really rest for approximately three months (or more) prior to bottling. During this resting period you should continue to rack your wine to a clean carboy at approximately one month intervals. By taking the wine off of its settlings you will help insure that your wine becomes crystal clear. A wine that goes into the bottle cloudy will deposit sediments on the bottom (or on the side of the bottle if lying flat). Wine that does not clear should be treated with a fining agent such as LQ KC Super Clear, Isinglass, Chitosan or Sparkolloid. These products are all available on our website at BlueStem Winery recommends that you correspond with us regarding the usage of these products.

There is actually no rush to bottle your wine! Wine which is aged in bulk in a carboy will actually mature much faster than wine which is aged in a bottle. You may store your wine in a carboy as long as you keep the carboy full and sealed from contact with air. BlueStem recommends the addition of one crushed Campden tablet per gallon of wine if you are planning to bulk store your wine for an extended period of time. If you are positive that your wine has totally finished its fermentation you can store the wine in a carboy and seal the carboy with an undrilled stopper. If unsure, you should continue to store your wine using an airlock. Do not stabilize or sweeten your wine until you are ready to bottle.

There are advantages to bulk storing your wine in addition to the faster maturation. Young wines can sometimes have an acidic bite which is not desirable. One of the ways that this acidic bite can be masked is to sweeten but by sweetening too early you can actually sweeten your wine too much in your attempt to mask this acidic taste. By letting your wines bulk age prior to sweetening much or all of this acidic bite will disappear on its own.

When you are ready to bottle your wine you should stabilize the wine (using Potassium Sorbate) and if you are going to sweeten your wine it should be done now. Once stabilized and sweetened your wine should be bottled.

If there is sediment in your carboy you should rack the wine just prior to stabilizing, sweetening and bottling. Try to avoid any oxygenation of your wine during this transfer.

Your bottles should be washed thoroughly, rinsed and both your bottles and corks will need to be sanitized prior to bottling. Wash your bottles thoroughly with dish soap and water and then rinse them thoroughly with clean water. A final rinse using a no rinse product such as Easy Clean (available at should follow this washing. Bottles should then be soaked in a solution of Ascorbic Acid (1/4 tsp), Potassium Metabisulphite (1/4 tsp) and warm water (40 ounces). Drain your bottles but do not rinse.

Your corks can be soaked in a solution of Potassium Metabisulphite (3 tsp) and a gallon of clean water. Your corks should remain submerged for a period of 30 minutes in this solution. A conventional wine cork is recommended over the use of plastic stoppers, T-corks or screw caps.

Leave your corked wine bottles upright for approximately 3 days (to allow complete expansion of the cork) prior to placing the bottles on their side. Screw capped bottles should be stored upright.

No comments: