The rewards and frustrations of home winemaking

Finally Time to Bottle!

Bottling first cab merlot June 2007 b

Happily the wine was very clear at the last racking, so I was confident that it was fine to bottle after 2 more weeks.  I had added extra Kmeta (potassium metabisulphite) for long-term aging when it was racked previously.  There was a little layer of goop in the bottom, so I opted to rack the wine into another clean carboy before starting to bottle, so that I would not have to worry about getting solids into my last bottles.  That would NOT make a nice gift, I’m sure.

First, I gathered everything together that I might need.  Bottles, bottle jet for rinsing bottles, bottle tree for draining bottles.  Corks, corker.  Auto-siphon and automatic bottle filler.  The wine was racked into the clean carboy, then set up on the counter.  The bottles were new, but I rinsed them out with easy clean solution anyway, just to be sure.  To rinse, I put easy clean solution in the bottle jet, then the bottle gets pumped on the phallus until water squirts up into it.  Depending on your state of mind, it’s either very exciting or very disturbing.  Either way, I usually do about 3 squirts of solution per bottle, then the bottle goes on the draining tree.  The bottles don’t need to be completely dry, and the easy clean doesn’t need to be rinsed out of the bottles.  I prepped the corks by putting them in dilute easy clean solution just before we started, but I wasn’t sure it was the best thing to do.  There were several aspects of the bottling process that I didn’t really have instructions for, so I just kind of started.

I had read that the bottles shouldn’t sit open for very long, so my hubby was put on corking duty.  He also helped me start the siphon into the bottler, and then we were off!  Oh, what a mess – red wine started spraying out of every crack of the bottler, so we clipped off the siphon and I actually read the instructions for using it.  I adjusted the screw at the top, and it eventually stopped spraying at least.  As soon as the bottle reached the bottom of the bottler, the wine flow stopped.  I then had to *remember* to push the button on the autobottler to actually stop the flow of wine when I removed the bottler to move it to another bottle.  I think I only lost about one bottle’s worth of wine on the floor and cabinets (and me, actually) before I caught on.  We also quickly realized that paper towels are an important requirement for the bottling process.  I also got out some plastic boxes to put the wine bottles in as they were filled, since the bottler did drip a little bit every time I switched bottles.

We eventually finished, and actually ended up with 30 bottles.  The last bottle wasn’t quite full, so we consumed this bottle the same day. It had a slightly weird aftertaste with first taste, but that went away quickly. There was a nice nose of berries, good tannins — definitely still young with bold fruit flavors. Really not bad for a first wine and first taste without any bottle aging!

The final touches were to put on the labels, including the front label and a sticker on the back with the bottling date, and shrink caps.  This was a little challenging, I used steam from my tea kettle, which resulted in some pretty wrinkled caps.  But, overall, they looked pretty!

California Claassen Cab-Merlot 2007 _2_

The army of wine is ready to head to the cellar – in 3 days anyway.  The wine is left upright for at least 3 days to let the corks kind of get comfy and settled, otherwise they might leak or even pop out.  Or so I read.

Leave a Reply