If you have invested a lot of time and effort in making homemade wine you will want to finish off the process to an acceptable standard by bottling and storing your vintage correctly.
The first thing is the selection of the proper grade bottles. Wine bottles should be of a heavy quality glass. If you are learning how to properly bottle homemade wine then you are advised that plastic should be avoided altogether. Plastic bottles are more difficult to sterilize, they are also of a breathable material which might therefore impart odours to the wine. It is also more difficult to control the internal temperatures of plastic bottles.
Glass bottles should be completely free of any chips, cracks or rough edges. Completely smooth rounded glass is the required standard. Glass bottles should be sterilised before putting the wine into them. You can sterilise them by boiling them or putting them in the oven at a temperature of 300c. Do not leave them too long and if they are of a proper quality they won’t crack from being heated. Traditionally, white wine is stored in clear bottles while red wine is bottled in green bottles.
Perhaps the best way to transfer the wine from your secondary fermenter to your prepared wine bottles is by siphoning. This will reduce the risk of unwanted sediment, organisms and air entering your wine. Your bottles should be full but not over full. They should reach a level of about one centimetre below the bottom of the cork when stood upright.
To properly bottle your wine ready for storing you will need to cork it correctly. You must first ensure that you purchase the best quality corks. Some inferior corks are manufactured by sticking lots of tiny pieces of cork together to make one agglomerated cork. You should look for the better quality corks that have been cut from a single piece of cork bark and which are the standard of professional winemakers today. There are some good quality synthetic corks on the market which might be an option if you are interested in how to properly bottle your homemade wine on a budget. The synthetic corks are cost effective and are superior to the agglomerated varieties. However, some people find synthetic corks difficult to use and they may lack some of the aesthetics of traditional wine corks. All corks must be sterilised before fitting on a bottle of new wine. Boiling them will do the trick.
Newly filled wine bottles should be stored upright for about three days. This will allow any surplus air in the bottle to seep out. After this period wine bottles should be stored on their sides so that the cork comes into contact with the wine. The moisture from the wine will cause the cork to expand thus creating a vacuum and sealing your homemade wine from the air.
Once you have learned how to properly bottle your homemade wine and you are satisfied with your efforts then you must be sure to store it properly. There are three essential factors for the successful storing of your wine. Your wine bottles should be stored in conditions with the right temperatures and humidity, they should be kept free of light exposure and they should be kept free of movement and vibration.
Finally, once you have bottled and stored your homemade wine correctly you must allow time to do the rest. Leave your properly bottled wines to mature slowly. A minimum of six months is needed for white wines while red wines should be left untouched for at least one year.