Guide to Bottling Wine

Bottling wine may seem like a tedious and overwhelming task, but we’re here to help make the process as smooth as possible! Before you start bottling wine at home you’re going to want to make sure that you have collected all of the necessary materials.

Materials and Equipment Necessary for Bottling Wine

1. Wine Bottles

The first thing you will need is wine bottles. While certain wines call for certain bottles, Bordeaux bottles are a good go-to because they stack nicely for storage and have a high shoulder that keeps sediment away from the cork.

It is recommended to bottle red wines in green or brown wine bottles.

Green and brown bottles are said to be used for red wines because they help to keep to shield the wine from sunlight. Sunlight can alter the taste and aromas of wine, so it is important to take measures to protect the wine.

White and sparkling wines should be bottled in green or clear wine bottles.

The reason behind using a clear bottle is that it offers you the ability to showcase the color of your white wine. White wines do not age as long as reds, therefore, you don’t need to be as concerned with the bottle being exposed to sunlight.

If you know you aren’t going to be able to store your wine in a dark place, it is best to choose a brown bottle for the white wine as well.

2. Auto-Siphon

A siphon is necessary to transfer the wine from the demijon to the wine bottle. An auto-siphon allows for a smooth transfer from one container to the next while limiting oxygen exposure. Auto-siphons contain 4 parts- the tube, sediment blocking tip, racking cane and siphon tubing. Auto-siphon hoses are helpful because they allow you to start the siphon with a single pump. They are more sanitary than a traditional siphon which you start with your mouth.  

3. Corks

Corks are the perfect bottle stopper for bottling wine because they allow a very small amount of oxygen to come in contact with the wine. It is important to allow this small amount of oxygen in because wines can develop unwanted aromas and tastes under anaerobic (no oxygen) conditions.

Natural Corks

Natural corks are made from the highest quality cork bark. There are three main types of natural corks:  

  1. One-piece corks are cut from a single sheet of cork bark. This type of cork is perfect for the aging of long-term wine because they remain strong over long periods of time
  2. Multi-piece corks are made of at least two pieces of cork that are glued together. Because these corks are often made from cork bark scraps, they work best with wines that don’t need to be aged for long.
  3. Colmated corks are natural corks whos tiny holes have been filled with cork dust and glue. These corks work best with wines that shouldn’t be aged for over three years.

Agglomerated Corks

Agglomerated corks are made from both natural cork bark and synthetic parts. This makes agglomerated corks relatively dense. They are on the cheaper side so if you plan on using this type of cork plan on using it within the first year for the best results.

Synthetic Corks 

Synthetic corks are made from oil-based plastic synthetic corks can be advantageous to winemakers because they last for long periods of time. If you use a synthetic cork, then your bottle of wine can be stored standing up since you don’t have to worry about the integrity of the cork. These corks offer a tight seal with fixed and predictable oxygen transfer rates. The only downfall to synthetic corks is that some people feel it adds a chemical odor/flavor to the wine.

4. A Corking Machine

Now that you have selected the corks you plan on using you’re going to need to have a corking machine handy. Corking machines compress the cork into the neck of the wine bottle.

There are two different types of manual corking machines for bottling wine: handheld and freestanding.

Handheld Corking Machines

Handheld corking machines tend to be the cheapest option. They are smaller and easier to store when not being used. However, the downfall to using a handheld corking machine is that you need a helper to hold the wine bottle still while you use the machine. Another downfall is that synthetic corks do not work with handheld corking machines.

Freestanding Corking Machines

The second option is a freestanding corking machine. While these tend to be more expensive than handheld corkers they are easier to use. These machines can cork wine bottles in a single action which expedites the corking process. Freestanding corking machines are ideal when corking large batches of wine or for anyone who is having a tough time getting the hang of a handheld corker.

5. Wine Labels  

Wine labels are the grand finale of wine bottling. What better way to customize your homemade wine than adding a personalized wine label? Personalized wine labels can be perfect for any occasion whether it be celebrating a marriage, graduation, or new home.

You can purchase plain white wine labels that are compatible with your home printer and come with easy to use templates. All you have to do is create your desired design using the template, print on the sticker sheets, and then attach the stickers to the bottles of wine. Another option would be to decorate the white wine labels in your own handwriting using colored markers.

If you’re looking for a more hands-free design approach you can purchase generic wine label stickers online for engagement parties, birthdays, graduations and more.  

Process for Bottling Wine 

Bottling wine is the final step in the winemaking process. After you have gathered the above necessary materials follow this guide to bottle your homemade wine:

  1. Prepare your wine bottles by making sure the bottles are clean and sterilized. There should be no excess water left inside.
  2. Prepare your corks by bringing a pot of water to a boil and then turning the burner off. Put the corks in the hot water and place a lid over the pot. Leave them in the pot for 2-3 minutes. The firmness should have only slightly given.
  3. Use auto-siphon to transfer the wine from the demijohn to the wine bottles. The demijohn should be sitting higher than the wine bottles for the siphon to work properly. Leave one inch of space at the top for the cork.  
  4. Cork the bottles using your selected cork and corker. This step must be done as quickly as possible to avoid oxidation.
  5. Add your personalized wine label to your bottles

Note that even if you made wine that you plan on consuming young, you should still let it rest for a few days after bottling before you taste it.  

Storing Bottled Wine

After you’re finished bottling, you may be asking yourself now where do I store my wine?

The best environment for storing wine is a cool and dark place that is free of odors.

Keeping wine out of the direct sunlight is extremely important. Sunlight breaks down the complex molecules that create flavors in aged wines. While dark colored bottles absorb most of the light, it is still best to keep wine in a dark place.

The ideal temperature for storing wine is somewhere between 52 and 58 degrees Fahrenheit. Once a temperature is chosen it needs to remain constant. Wine is made up of a complex balance of amino acids, phenols, carbohydrates and other chemical compounds. Aging wine is a series of chemical reactions between these compounds. When temperature fluctuates it throws off the chemical reactions and can speed up or slow down the aging process.  

In addition, wine needs to be stored in an odor-free environment. Corks allow some air back into the wine which can alter the taste and aroma. Avoid storing solvents such as cleaning solutions and fresh paint around your wine as well as food products like onions and garlic.

It is best to store your wines on a wine rack in a horizontal position. This allows the wine to be in contact with the cork preventing it from drying. A dried cork can alter the quality of the wines.

What is the Best Way to Store an Opened Bottle of Wine?

If you can’t finish the full bottle of wine recorking the bottle and placing it in the fridge is the best way to preserve it. Using this method wine should last for 3-5 days prior to opening. Storing wine in the fridge slows down the oxidation process allowing the wine to stay fresher for a longer period of time (yes, even red wines.) Store the wine upright in the fridge to minimize the surface that is exposed to oxygen.

Red wine can be warmed up in lukewarm water. Avoid using hot water as dramatic changes in temperature can damage your wine.

We hope that this guide to bottling wine has covered all of your questions on how to bottle wine at home and the best way to preserve your wine after opening it. Good luck and happy bottling!

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