One of the wine making supplies which home vintners find themselves purchasing time and time again is bottles. Obviously, there’s no point in making wine which you can’t bottle and age; but you’ll be glad to know that you don’t need to recycle or throw away those old bottles which you’ve used for previous batches of homemade wine. You may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but you most certainly can pour new wine into old bottles – as long as you follow a few simple steps, of course.
Cleaning Your Wine Bottles
Like anything else which is part of your wine making supplies, proper cleaning and sanitizing is crucial. Any dirt or residue on your bottles or any part of your wine making equipment causes contamination which can lead to spoiled wine; definitely not what any home wine maker wants to see. While reusing your wine bottles (or beer bottles, in the case of home brewers using a beer brewing kit) is certainly admirable, reusing residues from your last batch of wine or beer is anything but. In order to prevent spoilage due to improperly cleaned bottles, follow the basic bottle cleaning procedure outlined below.
You’re going to need a bottle brush, some mild detergent (regular dish soap is fine for this) and plenty of hot water. Essentially, it’s the same as washing dishes, but you should make sure to do an especially thorough job of washing your wine or beer bottles before reusing them. After all, the quality of your homemade wine or home brewed beer is at stake here, so take care to make sure that everything is cleaned very well before proceeding to the next step.
One thing which you need to keep in mind is that it’s a good idea to wash out your used wine or beer bottles as soon as they’re emptied and then wash them once again when you take them out of storage for another use. This will prevent residues and dirt from becoming dried on the bottle and save you a little time (and potentially a lot of elbow grease) later on when you’re ready to start filling your bottles with your latest batch of wine or beer.
After thoroughly washing your bottles, it’s time to rinse. Again, this should be done very well to make sure that you’ve removed any residue which may be left behind by the detergent. Don’t skimp on this step, even though you’re going to be rinsing your bottles again shortly.
The next step is to sanitize your bottles. This can be done by soaking them in a mild bleach solution or with one of the oxygen based sanitizer products available from shops which sell beer brewing kits and wine making supplies. Make sure to rinse your bottles very thoroughly after this soaking and sanitizing; bleach is not a flavor which you want left behind in the bottle to affect the taste of your new batch of wine or beer.