Saturday, January 14, 2012

At some point you should rack the wine and eventually you may want to bottle and cork the stuff.

Racking or Bottling Wine:

Racking wine or beer is simply the process of siphoning the beverage from one vessel to another in order to leave sediment behind.  Siphoning is quite different from pouring.  Pouring it will just mix the sediment back in.  Siphoning leaves the sediment at the bottom of the vessel and also serves to aerate the beverage.

The first time you rack your wine will be when you transfer it form the 5 gallon bucket to a carboy.  How often and when you rack depends in part on what you are fermenting.  Hard apple cider has more sediment than honey wine for example.  Just go with your gut, rack it when you see a fair amount of sediment at the bottom of the carboy.  Then do it again in a month or two if you feel like it.  Don't rack too much or you can disturb the flavor.  Racking three times for the typical brew is perfectly reasonable.  Racking is not necessary but if you want a clear and crisp beverage I recommend it at least once after the initial transfer to the carboy
It's great to use a local brew shop instead of ordering supplies online so you can take home a business card and actually call someone with question if they arise.  You will need a Racking Tube and a hose that fits snugly onto the racking tube. It's important the hose fits tight or you won't be able to get a good suction.  You will also need a cup or something with a narrow tip so you can pour water into the hose.  A plastic cup that you can bend or a measuring cup with a pour spout works great.
1.  To start put the carboy on a table or counter so as to work gravity.  Put some towels on the ground just for fun. On the ground have your clean receptacle to receive the wine and a bowl or something to drain the water used to start the siphon. If you have someone who could suspend the racking tube up just above the sediment then use them, otherwise don't worry about it, jut place the racking tube in your carboy.
2.  Fill the plastic hose with water but stop before the water goes down the racking tube.
Carboy on the table with a racking tube resting inside attached to a hose.
 I am pouring water into the hose to get the siphon started.

3.  Once the hose is full, with your finger on the end to keep the water in, aim the hose down then start emptying the water into a bowl. It will start to draw the wine into the racking tube and then the plastic hose.  Once the wine hits, the first thing you should do is fill a glass for yourself to enjoy then start the transfer.  Just pinch or bend the tube to stop the flow between vessels.
First thing is first, poor yourself a glass to check on the flavor!
That's it, once you get it started, siphoning is not that tricky.  If you don't quite get it on your first go, try again, you'll get it!  When you get to the bottom of the wine where all the sediment is the suction will be lost.  Sediment is packed full of nutrients, I hold onto it and use it in soups and roasts.

Corking Wine Bottles:

To cork a wine bottle you will need to buy a corker.  I have a double lever corker which I spend $36.00 on.  You will need some corks.  I save all the synthetic corks from store bought wine, as long as it hasn't been punctured all the way through, and reuse them which is an extremely uncool thing to do in the wine world just so you know.  I also bought a ton of cheap corks from the brew shop which I think are even a little too cheap in quality for me, I actually prefer my used synthetics.
Double Lever Corker
 1.  If you use real corks, soak them in water prior to corking.

2.  Slip the cork into the corker. 
3.  Place the corker on your bottle and firmly pull the lever handles down, down, and down some more.  You will meet some resistance; just pull down hard and steady until the cork is wedged into the bottle.

That's it, you're finished!  Now place your beautiful wine bottles on the table and leave them there for a few days before you store them so you can revel in your awesomeness!



  1. Nice work! So, are you going to be uncorking and re-racking these bottles, or did you already do it once before?

  2. Thanks! These bottles are the final destination for this wine. Prior to this bottling it had been racked twice over about a years time. Ideally when racking just for racking sake (not bottling) the wine just goes strait into another carboy. I had actually bottled this batch after only a month or two of fermenting but it was so sweet I actually returned the mead back to a carboy and let it go almost a year to what I think is perfect dryness. Good question!

  3. This is awesome! How long do you estimate it takes to cork each bottle?

  4. Thirty seconds or less to cork each bottle.