1. 30 sanitized bottles.
2. Syphon tube.
3. Sanitizing solution.
4. 30 corks
5. Bottle corker (Often, the store where you purchased your kit will lend or rent a corker to you. You may want to consider purchasing a hand corker if you are going to make wine at home on a regular basis. If you’re going to get really into it, you’ll appreciate a floor corker – a little more expensive).
So we’re a little behind here if you’ve been following along in our “getting started” series, but you know what? That’s ok! Having your wine age a little longer in the 5 (6 US) gallon carboy for an extra week or two will only make the wine better.
But if you’re raring to go, and want to consume this wine, then you could have done these steps a couple of weeks ago – or if you didn’t have time, you could have done what I did, and just let the wine age a little longer before bottling.
We are ready for bottling the wine! Are you excited about this? You should be. By now, you will have observed a noticeable clearing of the wine. Depending on the type of wine you decided to use, it may be quite transparent, or have some colour to it (if it was a white wine). But regardless, you will notice that it has definitely cleared, and no longer has the cloudy look it had a couple of weeks ago.
So let’s get on with it.
One thing though – you do have the option of filtering your wine. There is some debate about this – filtering will “polish” your wine and give it an even more “clear” appearance – but some believe that filtering wine also removes some of the taste and body from the wine.
It’s really up to you if you want to filter or not. I seldom filter any of my wines – and I don’t expect they will win any competitions for appearance, but at the same time, they taste great.
if you want to filter your wine, your local home winemaking shop will probably rent you a filter unit. My favorite supplier rents a unit for five bucks for the day. That’s pennies per bottle.
Of course, you will need about 30 750 ml. bottles for this step as well. And even if the bottles are brand new, you really should sterilize and rinse them. There’s a quick way, and a slower way to do this.
First, the quick way:
Go to your local winemaking supply shop and ask them for a “Vinator” sterilizer. This is one of the most niftiest gadgets – basically, a bowl of sorts, that you pour your sulphite solution into, with a rod coming up through the middle. You place the bottle over the centre rod, press down, and it shoots up your sulphite solution into the bottles under pressure.
You can then rinse them with hot tap water.
Secondly, the slower way is to make up your sulphite solution, pour it into each bottle, shake it around, pour the solution back into another container to be used for the next bottle, and rinse.
If you plan on making wine regularly, I guarantee you will find the $15.00 investment in a vinator worthwhile.
Now the next step is really important. You’ve got these 750 ml size bottles, but how much exactly is 750 ml. of liquid? Beginnners tend to fill up the bottles to much – which can cause problems – so it’s a really good idea to get a measuring cup that has ml and litres marked off. Fill that measuring cup up to the 750 ml mark with water, and pour into one of your wine bottles.
I’ll bet you are a bit surprised at how much “head space” is left over between the top of the bottle and the height of the 750 ml. of liquid.
But now that you know where the 750 ml mark is with the bottles you are using, you can start to fill them with your wine.
Just put the long stiff end of your syphon tube into your carboy, gently pressing it down to the bottom while the carboy is on a raised surface such as a table or counter top.
Your bottles should be down below the bottom of the carboy.. on the floor is a good place! Just like when you racked the wine earlier, start a syphon going, and let it pour into the bottle. Stop the flow with the clamp on the end of the siphon tube when you’ve reached the 750 ml mark of the bottle, and go on to the next bottle, filling it. Carry on until you’ve got all 30 bottles filled.
Now get your corker and corks, and cork all the bottles. You’ve done it – you’ve made 30 bottles of wine. Of course, you’ll want to open one right away – feel free, and enjoy your work.
The bottles should be kept upright for about 24 hours, and the next day, turned on their side for storage. This helps to keep the cork moist, and prevents it from drying out and shrinking. Shrinking cork means oxygen access, and we don’t want that to happen!
Of course, you might want to label your wine bottles. You may purchase pre-made labels that just require you to moisten one side and stick them to the bottles. Or, if you are creative, you can make your own labels with a graphics program, print them out, and attach them with glue sticks. It’s up to you really.
And there you have it – 30 bottles of wine, at a fraction of the cost of buying at the wine store, and hopefully you’re interest in this hobby has been motivated such that you will want to try and see what else you can do. All you need is a wee bit of space and time.
One last thing – don’t forget to clean out your carboy. Some water, a long handled bottle brush and less than five minutes of brushing should do the job. After you’ve poured the water out, give it another rinse, and consider swirling some sanitizing solution around in it before you store the carboy.