Hits 5013 | Created 2007-05-16 | Modified 2007-05-16
Once your wine has stopped fermenting, you should bottle it. How do you know when your wine has stopped fermenting? It should be (mostly) clear, and the level of water in the fermentation lock should stay level, indicating that there is no pressure inside the jar - no bubbles pass through it any longer. If you've had your wine in your bedroom cupboard, you'll know it is ready because you'll miss the little plop-plop noise it used to make.
You should have been collecting wine bottles for the big day over the past months, and you'll need to wash them really very, very well and sterilise them. I can't over emphasise how important it is to have clean, sterile bottles. My method is to wash, then wash in sterilising solution, then rinse, drain, and then bake in a (merely) warm oven until dry.
You'll also need to soak your corks overnight. If you're reading this for the first time on the day of bottling, then you'll learn a lesson that I learned here.
About ten minutes or so before you begin, submerse your corks into a sterilisation solution (putting something heavy on top to keep them underwater). When you are about to use them, rinse them in boiling water and then dry with a clean cloth.
Now, fill the bottles using the same method as for Racking. Don't overfill, leave at least a good inch below where the bottom of the cork will be.
Next, with your sterile, and dry cork, put into the top of the wine bottle. Ha, easier said then done isn't it? Various methods can be applied here, including a hammer. You can buy, or even make (in theory) a device to help you.
I will describe it. A wooden tube, hollow in the middle, so that one end will sit on the bottle of wine, the other end of the tube has a round dowel of wood sticking out of it that moves freely in and out of the tube. You put the cork in the tube, place on the wine bottle, and then put the dowel inside, resting on the top of the cork. Now you hammer the dowel down, driving the cork into the bottle.
Don't put your cork too far into the bottle, but don't leave it sticking out either.
Seal all around the top with wax and store on its side (important, or the cork will dry out).