How to Bottle Your Homemade Wine

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.

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Wine Closures

There was a time when all wine bottles were sealed with a cork but now it seems more common to see only screw cap wines on the shelf. Initially screw cap closures were seen as OK for white wine with a very short shelf life however there is now more acceptance of this type of closure for all types, except sparkling. It all seems a bit confusing, so lets take a step back and see what has happened to bring about this change.

Cork has been used as a closure for bottled wine for centuries however this has come with a price. As it is a natural product, the quality of the cork could vary from bottle to bottle. With a poor quality cork, the result would often mean excessive oxygen entering the bottle and destroying the precious wine inside.

To counteract the varying quality of cork there were specific methods used to give the cork the best chance of survival. Ensuring that the bottle was stored upright for 24 hours after the cork was applied would give it the best chance of settling into the bottle and sealing properly. Different sizes of cork were tried with longer corks, known as ‘Chateau length’, applied to higher quality wines.

Unfortunately for cork, the clock was ticking. With some wine makers looking for a way to remove the risk of the cork failing, the screw cap closure was introduced 10 years ago. It was initially applied to Riesling only, but the demand increased as supermarkets wanted to deliver the kind of consistency that screw cap guarantees.

This saw a much wider use of screw caps across all wines, including reds meant for cellaring. Research in both France and Australia has proved that wines can bottle well without a cork closure as maturation can be achieved without oxygen. At first, the average wine drinker was skeptical as screw cap wine was often associated with the cheaper bottles. However, as with most convenient items, wine drinkers started to realize that not only did wine mature well without a cork closure, they also began to consider the cork a bit of a nuisance! Waiting staff stopped carrying cork screws and it was no longer necessary to remember the cork screw when going on picnics. With attitudes changing, wineries all over the world started to select the convenience of non cork closures confident that their wine would taste just as good for the consumer. Some may debate this, however the fact is, that screw caps are here to stay.

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Some Myths About Storing Wine – Wine Cooler Reviews

A Few Myths

Wine gets better with age – OK so this is one that many people have trouble with. If you already have a bottle of wine that is mediocre and you store it fro a few years you are just going to have an older bottle of mediocre wine. It is really only good wines that have been made for cellaring that cellar and age properly.

Wine needs to be kept lying down – This is only true for wines that have been sealed with a cork. It for wine has been sealed under a stelvin cap or a twist cap then it is not necessary to lie your bottles down. The reason why wine used to be kept lying down, was to make sure that the cork was kept wet so that it would not dry out and shrink. When corks shrink they allow small amounts of air to get inside your wine and this air can cause your wine to oxidize and turn bad.

How to Store Your Wine Correctly

One of the most important things you can do for your wine is to keep it at a stable temperature. If the temperature of your wine fluctuates too much it can have an effect on the chemical reactions that occur inside the bottle.

It is also very important to keep your wine in a place that is away from the direct sunlight or UV light. Again this light can have an affect on the chemical reactions that are occurring in the bottle.

Humidity is only important when storing wine if the bottle is sealed with cork. Again this is primarily to stop the corks from drying out so that they do no shrink. If you are storing wine that has been enclosed with cork then it is good idea to have a humidity level of about 65%. Do not store bottles that have been sealed with cork in a normal refrigerator, as the humidity level is only 20%.

Naturally you do not want to store it in a place that is too hot or too cold as it can stew or freeze and end up tasting terrible. A perfect temperature for keeping your wine is about 15 degrees Celsius of 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Keeping your vino in a wine cooler or wine fridge is the best way to store your bottles of vino if you do not have a cellar.

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Wine History – When the Cork Met the Bottle

The role of the Church in the production and marketing of wine declined with the Reformation, particularly in northern Europe, but this did not convulse the wine world half as much as the discovery of the usefulness of corks about a century later. For the first time since the Roman empire, wine could now be stored and aged in bottles. Throughout the Middle Ages wine had been kept in casks which had presented a dual handicap: first, too long kept in wood could rob a wine of all its fruit; second, once the cask was opened the wine inevitably deteriorated unless drunk within a few days. The bottle, with its smaller capacity, solved the former problem by providing a neutral, non-porous material which allowed wine to age in a different subtler way and removed the latter problem by providing sealed containers of a manageable size for a single session’s drinking.

However, the cork and bottle revolution was not an instant success; bottles were then so bulbous they would only stand upright which meant the corks eventually dried out and as a consequence let in air. But, by the mid 18th century, longer, flat-sided bottles were designed which would lie down, their corks kept moist by contact with the wine. As a result wine making now took on a new dimension. It became worthwhile for a winemaker to try and excel, wines from particular plots of land could be compared for their qualities, and the most exciting could be classified and separated from the more mundane plot wines. As a result today’s great names of Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Rhine first began to be noticed.

In the early 19th century, Europe seemed one massive vineyard. In Italy 80% of people were earning their living from wine and in France there were vast plantings rolling southwards from Paris. Also the vine had moved abroad thanks to explorers, colonists and missionaries. It went to Latin America with the Spaniards, South Africa with French Huguenots, and to Australia with the British. Could anything stop this tide of wine expansion?

Well, yes and it came in the form of an aphid called phylloxera, that fed on and destroyed vine roots. It came from America in the 1860′s, and by the early 20th century, had destroyed all Europe’s vineyards and most of the rest of the world’s as well. The solution was to graft the vulnerable European vine, vitis vinifera, onto the phylloxera-resistant American rootstock, vitis riparia, naturally a very expensive effort. The most immediate effect in Europe was that only the best sites were replanted and the total area under vines shrank drastically as a result. Elsewhere the havoc wrought was comparable and vineyard acreage is only now expanding to old original sites destroyed over a century ago.

The 20th century brought further change as science and technology revolutionised viticulture and wine making. But despite the chemical formulae and computerised wineries, the grape retains its magic and allure that attracts wine enthusiasts from all over the world.

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