If you’re making your own wine at home, then there are a few careful steps you need to follow in order to be successful and to ensure the wine is good for consumption and as tasty as possible.
The last step of winemaking is bottling the wine. And it might not seem like a pretty big deal, after all, you just put the wine in a bottle and you’re good to go, right?
But in reality, knowing when your wine is ready to be bottled, choosing the right bottle, and then bottling the wine in a proper manner, is all super important to ensure the wine is as best as it can be, and everything goes smoothly.
So…let’s get right into it!
When should you bottle wine?
The first thing to know is when exactly the wine is ready to be bottled. This is pretty important, as bottling wine essentially means that you’re deeming it ready to be consumed, and different types of wine require different amounts of time to be ready, as they need to achieve different developments of their flavor.
The time of the season also has a big effect on the wine when bottling it, so it is important to know when is the best time to bottle the wine, depending on the type of wine that it is.
If you are aiming for floral or fruity flavors, or you’re maybe trying to get a nice sparkly wine, then the best time for bottling it is during early spring. And then, you should wait around a year before you drink the wine from the bottle.
If you are aiming for a wine that has a longer maturing period of time, during which it is left to sit and age for the flavors to be properly developed, then the best time for bottling is during August or September. Basically, late summer and early fall.
How do you choose the right bottle for your wine?
Another important factor, when bottling your wine, is the bottle you are going to bottle it in. The container the wine is kept in does a lot, and it can significantly affect how the wine matures and develops, regarding its taste and texture.
So how do you choose the right bottle for your wine?
Theoretically, there are different types of bottles that should be used for different specific types of wine.
However, in the world of wine-making, a lot of rules are made to be bent, and it’s more about experimenting and figuring out what works best for your wine.
And although the bottle will affect how the wine matures, homemade wine that is made for fun can be bottled in any bottle, without much of a problem. It is when you are aiming for precision and finesse that the type of bottle really comes into play.
The main thing to be aware of is that different types of wines should be bottled in differently colored bottles. (Yup, the color of the bottle is one of the main factors to consider!)
So, for example, red wines should be bottled in either brown or green bottles. White and rose wines, on the other hand, should be bottled in either green or transparent bottles.
And then, the bottles (regardless of the wine type and bottle color), should all be stored in a cool and dark place.
It might seem a bit odd that the color of the bottle has an effect on how the wine matures, but the color of the bottle will directly affect how much light gets through the glass, as well as regulating the temperature and other fine-tuned and precise things.
How do you bottle wine?
Once you’ve got your wine ready, the bottle has been chosen, and it’s the right season…it’s finally time to bottle the wine.
Here is an easy step-by-step guide on how to bottle wine:
- Start by preparing the bottles. You have to make sure they are completely clean and sterilized. They then have to be thoroughly dried, so that there is not a single drop of water left inside.
- Next, rinse the inside of the bottles with a small quantity of wine. Make sure it’s not too much. You could even reuse the wine, transferring it from bottle to bottle as you rinse them all.
- Transfer the wine from the demijohn, into the bottles. The best method for this is siphoning so that you are removing any possible sediments at the same time. This step is the trickiest one and might require a bit of practice, but you will very quickly get the hang of it.
- When filling the bottles, make sure you are not overfilling them. You should allow for around one inch of space between the wine level and the cork.
- To cork the bottles, you will need a corker, and the corks that you are using (there are different types). It is very important to use new corks, and not reused ones, to ensure a hermetic closure for the bottle.
It is also important to complete this step as fast as possible, to avoid oxidation in the wine. Some people use sulfur dioxide to prevent oxidation, especially in wine that is going to be left to mature for a few years.
- Once the wine has been successfully bottled, let it rest in storage for a few days before tasting it. (Alternatively, if the wine has been made to mature for a longer time, keep it in storage for the set time, which could be years.)
And that’s it! That’s how you bottle the wine. Make sure you store the bottle in a cool and dark place, with the bottle positioned on its side, so as to avoid the cork from drying out.