The way this is going, it may go a few more parts before it is done. Like most things in life, there are things we need to have and things we would like to have. Let’s examine some of this in today’s blog.
One needs to have is more than 30 bottles if you expect to age your wine at all. I have over 200 bottles that I have collected over the years, most of which I bought. That way I can be sure that the corks will all seal properly, and that the bottles are easy to clean. Beware of the bottle with the deep dimple in the bottom. It is almost impossible to be sure the bottom is clean. All bottle openings are NOT the same size and when you use one that is a bit too large, and you store the bottle on its side, you get a leak. Choose the bottle you use carefully, and I found the best ones are the ones sold by Co-Op or the wine maker store. They come in 2 kinds the stepped neck and the tapered neck. It is a matter of choice. I mix mine. I usually have about 120 t0 150 bottles in the aging process. It is not an absolute, but usually clear bottles are used for white wines and green for the reds. Definitely a need, more bottles.
More on bottles. To make it easy to clean bottles, I rinse them twice immediately after pouring, and put the cork back in the bottle. Nothing grows or builds up in there, and a little cleanup with my Javex and TSP will leave them sterile when I bottle the new wine. You will get a bottle brush with your wine making kit, and be sure to use it to be sure the bottle is clean.
After cleaning, you will need to rinse the bottles out. I have a gadget that to me is indispensable! It attaches to your sink tap, and when you lower the bottle over it, water sprays all over in inside of the inverted bottle, and you have a sparkling bottle, all cleaned out and ready to fill with wine. The second gadget, I have works with the bottle wash system and it is a drainer. It holds the bottles upside down so that they will drain completely. It will hold all the bottles you will need for your wine batch of 30 bottles. Both of these my wife gave me for a present at an event like Father’s day or birthday. They are not a necessity, but they do such a great job of bottle handling, that they save a huge amount of my time. They are not expensive, and you will have them for years. Both these are available from your wine kit merchant. I have put these in the nice to have, until you use them and they become a must have.
One item I use and consider to be a must is a filter of some kind. Generall there are 2 kinds, one is a batch that uses a square filter, and the other is a round filter that does a few bottles at a time. I have the latter kind, and have had it for years. I got it one Christmas. It is a variation of a garden weed sprayer, that has been modified to do the job. I rented one of them for years, but would not be without one now. Why do we need to filter wine? We shouldn’t have to in an ideal world, or if your batch was big. We add a few things from the individual wine kit at time of the last rack, (siphoning) to clarify the wine and stabilize it. All the yeast SHOULD be settled on th bottom of the carboy, but in the real world a few flecks of yeast are still floating around. You clear this with the filter, and when you are finished filtering, the wine will be “as clear as gin” or so we say.
While it can be done, without picking up some of he yeast in the bottom of the carboy, it takes a better man than me to do it, so I rely on my trusty filter to make sure that there is no sediment in any of the 30 bottles I produce. You can rent a filter from your wine supplier if you like, since the filter is a bit pricey, but you will have it for years with a little care. I have had mine for some forty years now. Check out the different types and decide which one is for you.
As soon as the wine is bottled, you need to cork it. If you use the new screw tops, corking for you is a thing of the past. I use the corks from the wine kits, or buy them at C0-Op as needed. They come in a convenient pack of 30, and should be used shortly after buying. They will dry out! You will also need some kind of a corker to install the cork. Again one can rent them, but with a birthday that problem is over. I’m sure the one I have, (birthday present) will be with me long enough that my great-grandchildren will be making and bottling wine with it. It is easy to use, and keep clean too.
There is one thing I learned many years ago. Before installing a cork in a bottle of new wine it should be soaked for a few minutes in a solution of potassium metabisulphite and water. One, and most importantly, the cork is sterilized by the sulphur dioxide produced when the water is added to the potassium metabisulphite. secondly the cork is a bit softer and slips into the bottle with less effort. I consider the sterilizing factor to be the one of the major reasons I have never had a bad bottle of wine.
That’s enough for today, I’ll bring the next installment tomorrow.
Happy wine making! Skoal!