Bottling wine is an important part of wine making. First, ensure your wine is ready to be bottled. Meaning it is finished fermenting, clear, stable, and free of CO2. I do this by using a wine rack held in the fermentation vessel (5 gallon bucket) near the bottom, but not ON the bottom. I do not want to suck up all the dead yeast and other sediment.
Rack the Wine
After racking the wine into a clean vessel, I let it sit overnight to let any fines settle. I want to make sure that all the yeast is dead and that the sugar has been ate by the yeast. If there is any live yeast and sugar in the wine, then it will continue to ferment in the bottle, which would make my wine full of CO2, which is great if you want sparkling wine, but not so great if you don’t. Stirring the wine is also a good idea, as that will release any suspended CO2.
Clean the Bottles
Next you want to make sure your bottles are clean and sanitary. This is very important, and common airborne bacteria eats alcohol and metabolizes acetic acid, like yeasts eat sugar and metabolize alcohol. If you do not clean your bottles well, then you may be surprised with a nice bottle of homemade vinegar.
Fill the Bottles
For the video I used a bottling wand to fill my bottles, it was very easy to use, and prevented a lot of waste. A bottling wand is a rigid tube with a pressure valve at the end. The wand fits on the end of the siphon tube to help you fill your bottles. When you insert the want in the bottom of the bottle and press, the valve opens and allows wine to flow. The bottle is then filled to the very rim of the bottle. When removed, the space taken by the wand allows the wine level inside the bottle to drop to just the right amount of headspace for the cork.
Cork and Let Settle
Depending on the type of cork and the type of corker, you may need to soak your corks for a duration ranging from a few minutes to overnight. This lubricates the corks so that they compress easily to make a good seal. The soaking water should have campden tablets, or other food safe disinfectant to ensure a sanitary process.
After you cork your wine, it is best to let the bottle sit upright for a couple of days to let any dissolved gasses release and work up past the cork. This allows for a better seal.
Once the wine has rested, then you can store your wine is a cool, dry, and dark place. It is best to store the wine on it’s side so that the wine can keep the cork moist.
If you plan on keeping your wine for decades, you may want to consider recorking it every 5 or 6 years, but that is a discussion for later.
I hope this article helped you, and I welcome your comments.