Bottling sparkling wine -- plan B!

Winemaking Talk - Winemaking Forum

Help Support Winemaking Talk - Winemaking Forum:

Joined
Nov 5, 2006
Messages
5,600
Reaction score
14,260
Location
Raleigh, NC, USA
My son & I racked a FWK Chardonnay from a 23 liter carboy into a 19 liter carboy tonight. The wine is VERY tasty at 4 months old and the color is good. We'll bottle it in 2 or 3 months.

We proceeded with the plan to sparkle the last 4 liters, using commercial drops designed for the purpose. My son used them for sparkling cider and the drops worked well. I'm a beer brewer as well, have a crown capper, and am going the easy route and simply capping the bottles. I've messed with plastic champagne corks in the past, and am not bothering now. I have 7 champagne bottles saved and will need 5.

Everything was going according to plan, we had filled and capped 3 bottles. The 4th one?

"Dad, this cap doesn't fit."

Mother#&@#*#$!!! There are 2 different sizes of crown caps and I failed to check my bottles. IIRC, American beer bottles and most sparkling wine sold in the USA take a 26 mm crown cap. European take a 29 mm crown cap. My last 4 bottles are 29 mm ...

OK, what to do? I was inventing new swear words as I searched for a solution.

Then ... DUH. I have cases of 12 oz beer bottles, so we got out 4 clean bottles and filled them. This actually works out better, as I have 4 tasting bottles to see how the wine is progressing. This should prove to be interesting.
 

VinesnBines

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 5, 2020
Messages
1,073
Reaction score
1,251
Keep us posted. I tried the carbonation drops without any luck for sparkling wine. I didn't add yeast so I'm assuming the carb drops had nothing to feed on after I aged the wine dry.
 
Joined
Nov 5, 2006
Messages
5,600
Reaction score
14,260
Location
Raleigh, NC, USA
Keep us posted. I tried the carbonation drops without any luck for sparkling wine. I didn't add yeast so I'm assuming the carb drops had nothing to feed on after I aged the wine dry.
If you aged the wine too long, the yeast may have died. This is why I bottled at the 4 month mark, to (hopefully!) avoid that problem.
 

VinesnBines

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 5, 2020
Messages
1,073
Reaction score
1,251
I'm sure the yeast was dead. I can't recall how soon I bottled...wasn't much past 4 months. I did make a sparkler when I added a little sugar syrup to a thin tasting Merlot (from a juice bucket). Fortunately I only had about three that refermented and no pushed corks or exploding bottles; just juice fountains. My carbonation skills have deteriorated.
 
Joined
Nov 5, 2006
Messages
5,600
Reaction score
14,260
Location
Raleigh, NC, USA
There is a corollary to Murphy's law -- the likelihood of a fermentation in the bottle is conversely proportional to how much you want it to happen.

I have three 750 ml champagne bottles and four 12 oz beer bottles. In about a month I'll pop one of the beer bottles. If it doesn't foam, I'll pop the others, and any that don't foam will be poured into a primary. I'll add a small starter, and rebottle.

Something we forget is that as home winemakers can easily recork any bottle at any time. As a brewer as well, the same goes for crown caps.

Side note -- I have several bags of crown caps from when my partner and I closed our LHBS in 1990. Surprisingly enough, those caps are fine and seal bottles just fine.
 

toadie

Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2020
Messages
91
Reaction score
85
I carbonate a lot. I'm even thinking of putting a white in a keg. One thing you can do to see if your carbonation has progressed enough is to fill a plastic bottle with a cap. It hardens as it carbonates. You can even use a thin plastic water bottle.
 
Joined
Nov 5, 2006
Messages
5,600
Reaction score
14,260
Location
Raleigh, NC, USA
@toadie, excellent advice. However, the drawback to your method is that I don't have to pop a cap, since once that cap is popped, I have to drink the wine. 🤣

All jokes aside, that is excellent advice. Bottle one in a 12 oz soda bottle and use it to judge the progress.

In the distant past, I tried the transfer method to sparkle Apple and Seyval, and neither worked well. If this does work as I expect, I'll do more in the future. As long as I'm expecting some sediment in the bottle, I can handle it.
 

toadie

Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2020
Messages
91
Reaction score
85
I don't know how everyone else feels but I think sediment is not a dealbreaker. One of my first fruit wines had big wispy chunks, delicious but a little off putting. I guess if you give a lot away presentation is more important and maybe longer term storage might be more of an issue.
 
Joined
Nov 5, 2006
Messages
5,600
Reaction score
14,260
Location
Raleigh, NC, USA
I don't know how everyone else feels but I think sediment is not a dealbreaker.
When I gave beer away, I warned about sediment and to decant the beer. Most understood, and at least one person said, "no problem, I need more minerals in my diet anyway." 🤣

For presentation, I pour my glass last, so if there's a bit of cloudiness it's in my glass.
 

Bmd2k1

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2021
Messages
430
Reaction score
339
If you aged the wine too long, the yeast may have died. This is why I bottled at the 4 month mark, to (hopefully!) avoid that problem.
Anything "magic" about the 4 month mark? I'd like to bottle carb some of either my chardonnay or Viognier...

Cheers!
 
Joined
Nov 5, 2006
Messages
5,600
Reaction score
14,260
Location
Raleigh, NC, USA
Anything "magic" about the 4 month mark? I'd like to bottle carb some of either my chardonnay or Viognier...
It seems like a good point. Four months is the earliest I'd bottle, and the longer the wine bulk ages, the more yeast will be dead. I figure this is a sweet spot.

A this point the Chardonnay is clear (it's a FWK), although I'll let the other 19 liters bulk age for another 2 or 3 months. For the most part, I bottle whites between 4 and 6 months, maybe a bit longer. If I oak aged a chardonnay, I'd probably go 9 months.

chardonnay.jpg
 

FlamingoEmporium

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2022
Messages
784
Reaction score
1,674
Location
SW Florida
I don't know how everyone else feels but I think sediment is not a dealbreaker. One of my first fruit wines had big wispy chunks, delicious but a little off putting. I guess if you give a lot away presentation is more important and maybe longer term storage might be more of an issue.
I used to drink 3 day old coffee in my cup at work. (Always stir it first)
 

Latest posts

Top