Bottling Your Wine
Once we have gone through the pre-bottling check-list and the wine has undergone any needed treatments, we are ready to bottle the wine. Make sure that the bottles are rinsed clean, sanitized, and that your corks (W430) and corker (W405) are at hand. Then, bottle the wine using one of the following methods:
Basic racking cane set-up: You can use your same racking set-up (R310) to bottle the wine by attaching a bottle filler attachment (B420) to the end of the transfer tube. This simple set-up gives you an economic way to fill single bottles at a time. This is great for doing small lots.
Enolmatic filler: Since the Enolmatic bottle filler (WE620) uses a vacuum to move the wine, two positive things happen; the wine avoids damage caused by pumps, and oxygen exposure is greatly reduced. In addition, the Enolmatic has the ability of adding an optional in-line filter assembly (WE628) so you can actually filter the wine using the same vacuum during the bottling operation. By performing these two operations in one pass this limits the amount of times the wine gets agitated and exposed to the elements. The only caveat to the Enolmatic is that it is a single spout, but if you are only doing a couple of carboys at a time it is really great. Fill rate is around 20 seconds per 750mL bottle.
XpressFill: (WE651, WE652) For lot sizes that are larger than a few carboys, the XpressFill is your best option. 2 or 4 spout machines feature a closed pathway and self-priming pump. An optional built-in sparging option allows you to flush your bottles pre-fill with inert gas at the push of a button- an important advantage for preserving fruit and delicate aromatics when bottling both reds and whites! The specialized digital flow controller regulates the accuracy of the flow to within +/- 1.5mL. Manual mode allows for topping-up bottles or filling odd sizes (example: connect a bit of tubing and you can fill magnums). Fill rate is 200 bottles/hour for the 2-spout, and 400 bottles/hour for the 4-spout.
Note: Regardless of the filling method used it is important to fill the bottles so that when the cork is inserted there will be a 1/2 inch of airspace between the cork bottom and the wine.
Helpful hint: Whatever bottling method you use, if you have access to inert gas we recommend flushing the bottles with gas before you fill them. This extra step will limit the oxygen exposure to the wine and will help maintain the delicate fruit and overall freshness of your wine as it goes into the bottle!
Alternative, non-traditional bottling options
In addition to corks and wine bottles, wine can be bottled using 16 or 22 oz “beer” bottles with a crown cap. This is a good way to set aside small samples for future evaluation. Remember that crown capped bottles do not need to be stored on their sides- in fact the caps will degrade if in constant contact with the wine itself. So, store them upright to avoid any problems and you should be fine.
Your wine may also be kegged, which is a great method for storing top-up wine for other vintages if needed. Using kegs also allows you to take off a glass without having to open a whole bottle, and if you want more than just a single glass you can always fill a carafe.
Once bottled, it will take about two months for the wine to get over the shock of the sulfite addition and bottling process, so you really should wait to try it. When you finally do taste the product of your labors, know that it is only going to get better as it ages. Some wines may take a few years before they really come into their own. True, it might be quite drinkable now, but only with ageing will it acquire all those extra flavors and an added complexity. So, knowing this, you might want to try and set some aside. You will be happy that you did. After all, up to now you have worked for the wine; now let the wine finally start to work for you.
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