Once you’ve gotten your first batch of wine well underway, it’s time to learn more about the next steps in the process. One of the most important of these steps is also one of the last ones: bottling. We don’t mean to intimidate anyone who’s just starting out with their wine making kit, but properly bottling and corking your wine is critical to the outcome of the wine making process.
Corks are one part of your wine making supplies which it definitely behooves you as a wine maker to learn more about. If you’re looking forward to finally bottling your first batch soon, then you’ve come to the right place – keep reading for an explanation of how to cork your wine the right way.
Preparation for Corking
There are a few things you’ll have to take care of ahead of time, so don’t break out the corks at the last minute. You can prepare your corks while your wine bottles are drying after being washed and sterilized, so it’s not a terribly onerous thing to do.
A quick note on corks is appropriate here – while it’s not likely to be a problem unless you’re using non-standard size wine bottles, your corks should have a diameter of roughly 6 millimeters greater than the inside of the wine bottle’s neck.
Unless your corks are pre-treated with silicone or paraffin (you can ask at your local wine making supplies shop if you’re not sure), then you’ll need to soak them before using. Soak your corks for one to two hours, then give them a thorough rinse in warm water before corking your wine bottles. If your corks are treated, however, then they’ll be ready to go straight out of the box.
Now you’re probably wondering how you’re going to get the corks into your bottles. With any luck, you’ve already thought of this and purchased or rented a corking machine. You can find these at your local homebrew and wine making shops; while it’s possible to cork your wine manually, it’s not recommended and it’s definitely easier using a corking machine.
One other thing to keep in mind as you bottle your wine is that you’ll need to allow for a little bit of clearance between the bottom of the cork and the wine. Make sure that your fill level is low enough to provide at least 15 millimeters of clearance – this shouldn’t be a problem, but make measurements if necessary.
Wine Storage Tips
One last thing to remember about wine corking is that you cannot immediately lay down your bottles (put them on their sides) for storage and aging afterwards. Corks are compressed quite a bit during corking and it takes between three hours and a day for them to spring back to their original size and form a tight seal. Allow your bottles to stand upright for 24 hours after corking, just to be safe – after all, it would be a shame to have the wine you’ve made yourself you’re your wine making kit spoiled because of this one small, but important detail.