Now that Spring is finally here, it’s time to bottle! Here are some things to remember before bottling your wine.
1. Make Sure Your Wine is Clear
Particulate in your wine should be clarified by quality fining & clearing additives such as Chitosan and Kieselsol, along with multiple rackings. Be sure to take a sample of wine in a clear glass test tube or jar and check final clarity before bottling.
2. Cold Stabilization
After fermentation, it is possible for a wine to become supersaturated with tartaric acid. This excess acid can crystalize, and while not harmful, is unsightly and unwelcome in the bottom of your wine bottles. Cold temperatures cause tartrate crystals to precipitate to the bottom of your carboy. Simple reduce the temperature of your wine by placing it in the refrigerator for several days, and rack it once the tartaric acid crystals have settled to the bottom.
3. Degassing & Stopping Fermentation
It’s very important to make sure fermentation has ended and does not renew after bottling, as the gasses will push out corks and explode wine bottles. A stabilizer such as Potassium sorbate with Campden Tablets will prevent any further yeast reproduction. CO2 produced during fermentation can be trapped in the wine well after fermentation has ended; a good degassing tool will quickly and efficiently stir the gas out of your wine.
Easily the most important aspect of bottling is properly sanitizing both the bottles you’re using and any equipment that will come in contact with your wine, such as funnels, spoons, and racking tubes. We are huge fans of One Step Cleanser due to its no-rinse simplicity, but customers also love Star San, Five Star PBW, B-Brite , Iodophor and the multi-use Potassium Meta.
5. Choosing the Right Corks
Picking the best cork for your wine is often predetermined by the type of corker you are planning to use. Most hand-held, double-lever corkers work best with #8 corks – particularly synthetic Nomacorcs. Chamfered corks have a beveled edge which will assist with seating the cork into the bottle by hand. With a floor corker, high-grade natural #9 straight corks tend to be the most popular. The floor corkers will compress the cork small enough to make the chamfered edge unnecessary, and a slightly larger diameter cork can be used. Use Natural corks for long time aging and storage (6+ years), Synthetic for medium-term storage (less than 6), and Agglomerated and Colmated for short-to-medium term storage (under 3). Read our Wine Cork Article and Cork Grading Standards for further information.
6. Choosing the Right Bottles
The style of wine bottle you choose is almost entirely cosmetic and aesthetic, however the color of glass can have an impact on the amount of UV light that passes through to your wine. If you plan on displaying wine bottles where light can reach them, such as on a rack in your home, a darker wine bottle will protect the wine from UV and prevent oxidation. Clear (or Flint) bottles will show off the color of your wine, but should ideally be stored in complete darkness.
Bottles should be filled about 1” from the bottom of your cork, and a quality bottle filler will assist you with getting consistent fill levels with minimal spillage. We recommend leaving wine bottles upright after being filled for at least 24 hours, and some say they should be left upright for up to 3 days. Theoretically this allows the compressed cork to fully expand, guaranteeing a good seal. Also, if any gasses are left in the wine and happen to push out or unseat the cork, this may save you a mess on the floor. After the initial upright period, the bottles should be stored on their side or upside down to keep the cork from drying out and deteriorating.