zondag 30 november 2008

By this time you’ve racked your wine several times from one carboy to another. The airlock is quiet as fermentation has stopped. You notice that after the last racking, there has been no more sediment deposited on the bottom of the carboy, and using a wine thief, a specially formed glass tube for drawing samples of wine; you fill half a wine glass with your labor of love to check it for clarity and flavor. If you’re satisfied with the wine you can either leave it in the carboy for further aging, (assuming you don’t need the jug for additional batches of wine), transfer it to another container such as a small barrel, or in most cases you’ll choose to bottle.
A supply of bottles should be no problem if you’ve been saving them as you drink. Of course, your bottles will need to be cleaned. You can use a pressure washer type attachment on your faucet, a scrubber that attaches to a driver/drill, or the good old fashioned hand bottle brush. A bottle tree, a rack to hold bottles while draining; is a useful purchase if you’re cleaning lots of bottles. Bottles must be sterilized before filling using a device that squirts a sulfite solution into the bottles, or you can just line them up in the sink and pour boiling water over them. Once bottles are clean, dry and sterile they’re ready to be filled. The simplest method uses the same siphoning system you used to rack your wine; fill to the desired level and stop the flow. There are filling devices you can use that attach to your siphon hose and automatically stop the flow when the bottle is full, as well as gravity feed and electric bottle fillers for filling large quantities.
Filled bottles then need to be sealed. I use corks exclusively for closing my bottles and have yet to have a bottle spoil. To seat corks you have several options. Plunger type corkers are OK for small quantities. Single- and double-armed lever corkers are easier and faster to use, although the double-armed type takes a little practice. If you’re going to make more than a couple of cases a year though, a floor or bench corker is a worthwhile investment; much faster and more consistent.
Now we’ve covered the basics of equipment for the home winemaker. Join me for the next series of posts as we get into the actual winemaking process. I’ve got 50 lbs of raspberries to turn into wine!
Front to Rear: Wine thief, bottle brushes, double-armed lever corker, bottle sanitizer, bottle tree, floor corker, Pippin.

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