Thursday, June 12, 2008

Whooo Hooo! It's Time to Bottle

The last step in wine making is filling and corking your bottles. It is very critical how you handle the wine from this point on. The better the care, the better the wine. This is basic wine knowledge.

Make sure that your wine is finished. It should
clear, stable, and free of C02. Clear means free of particles that could later fallout of suspension and leave sediment in the bottles. Stable means finished fermenting and free of C02 means that although the fermentation may be finished, a wine can still be saturated with carbon dioxide. You will know this if there is any fizziness left. If it is, it will go into the bottles and depending on the conditions, could expand and push the corks out.

When your homemade wine is almost ready to bottle, you will need to de-gas it by stirring it repeatedly over the course of a day to release as much carbon dioxide as possible from suspension in the wine. If you are adding fining agents to the wine, now is the time. This is a simple, but VERY important element in the aging process.

WHOO HOO! The big day! You'll clean, fill and cork your bottles.

Wash and sterilize enough bottles to hold your special juice. Use your bleach solution again or run the bottles through the hot cycle on the dishwasher. Siphon the wine into the bottles, leaving about two inches of space for the cork. Soak your corks in tap water while you are filling the bottles. This will make them easier to insert and will clean them adequately. Following the instructions for your corker, cork all the bottles.

Get creative and design some colorful labels with your computer print shop program and print them out on self-adhesive labels. Be sure to put the bottling date on each bottle and always do this for future reference.

Put the bottles away in the cool, dark place to age. Try to forget about them for at least six months. OK, I know, you can't wait! Go ahead and open a bottle after the second week. It will be wine, and it should taste pretty good. There might be a slightly raw flavor from the fresh alcohol, but this will go away over time. As the wine develops in the bottle, the flavors will marry and meld. By the time the wine is six months old, it should be getting pretty smooth and should improve for another six months. Most homemade wine will not continue to improve after a year. This is especially true of home made fruit wines. Plan on drinking it all within six to eight months of its first birthday.

So now that you know how to make wine, be brave and give it a try!


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