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Ready to bottle my 1st batch....a couple of questions..

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Harbrook

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Hi

I need to bottle my 1st batch,, Its an Italian Amarone, and has been bulk ageing for 6 weeks. I would leave it longer but I need the Carboy it is in so I'm going to age in bottles instead.
I have 2 questions that i would very much appreciate your opinions on.

1. I have just bough my corks.... (1+1 45mm corks) what is the best way to sterilise them?- Soak them in StarSan? or....
Wipe of any dust and Spray them with StarSan and then dry? or....
Something completely different???

2. I plan on keeping a fair few of my bottles for a couple of years...(i hope i have the patience to.....)
Should I add some extra Preserver to the wine in the bottling bucket before I bottle? As its my 1st batch I plan on drinking a bottle of the wine every month to see how it evolves,,,, that being said, it could still last a couple of years so I'm unsure if to add any Campden Tablets or Potassium sorbate and if so how much to my 6 gallon (23ltr) batch.....

Your help and advice will be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance
 

Johnd

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@Harbrook
The best thing you can do for this wine, is buy another carboy and don't bottle it now, keep it around in the carboy for another 6 months and get a couple of rackings off of fine deposits before bottling.

That said, if you decide to bottle, sanitize your corks in a "corkidor" type vessel. Small sealed vessel, with some sulfite solution in the bottom, corks in a container not in contact with the solution, but exposed to the vapors for a few hours. This will keep your corks from becoming saturated, but will sanitize them.

Not knowing how long ago you've added your initial dose of sulfite to the wine, assuming it wasn't more than a couple of months, and also assuming that you don't have the ability to measure the free sulfites in your wine, a small dose is probably in order. The rule of thumb of 1/4 teaspoon per 6 gallons every three months will keep you pretty safe. If it's been three months since your last dose, add 1/4 tsp before bottling. Adjust the dose appropriately based upon when your last dose was if it was less than three months ago. Ie: if it was 1-1/2 months ago, divide the 1/2 tsp dose in half, one month ago, use 1/3 of your 1/4 tsp dose. Not an exact science if you don't have an accurate gram scale, but it'll get you there. If you're using tablets, the dosage is much easier to figure out, just make sure they're well crushed and dissolved before bottling.

As for sorbate, if your wine finished dry (under .995 or so), and you are not adding anything with sugar to it, there is no need for sorbate.
 

Harbrook

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@Harbrook
The best thing you can do for this wine, is buy another carboy and don't bottle it now, keep it around in the carboy for another 6 months and get a couple of rackings off of fine deposits before bottling.

That said, if you decide to bottle, sanitize your corks in a "corkidor" type vessel. Small sealed vessel, with some sulfite solution in the bottom, corks in a container not in contact with the solution, but exposed to the vapors for a few hours. This will keep your corks from becoming saturated, but will sanitize them.

Not knowing how long ago you've added your initial dose of sulfite to the wine, assuming it wasn't more than a couple of months, and also assuming that you don't have the ability to measure the free sulfites in your wine, a small dose is probably in order. The rule of thumb of 1/4 teaspoon per 6 gallons every three months will keep you pretty safe. If it's been three months since your last dose, add 1/4 tsp before bottling. Adjust the dose appropriately based upon when your last dose was if it was less than three months ago. Ie: if it was 1-1/2 months ago, divide the 1/2 tsp dose in half, one month ago, use 1/3 of your 1/4 tsp dose. Not an exact science if you don't have an accurate gram scale, but it'll get you there. If you're using tablets, the dosage is much easier to figure out, just make sure they're well crushed and dissolved before bottling.

As for sorbate, if your wine finished dry (under .995 or so), and you are not adding anything with sugar to it, there is no need for sorbate.
Will the wine not age as well in the bottle? And if not, Will it turn out a mile away from what it could have been with a year in the carboy? or is it just a small difference that is acceptable for my 1st wine, to get me some bottles so i can enjoy the development of the wine while i wait for other wines to age in bulk.
 

AZMDTed

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Will the wine not age as well in the bottle? And if not, Will it turn out a mile away from what it could have been with a year in the carboy? or is it just a small difference that is acceptable for my 1st wine, to get me some bottles so i can enjoy the development of the wine while i wait for other wines to age in bulk.

John gave you good advice. Now, as to your next question. The wine will indeed age in a bottle and be decent wine. BUT, make sure that your wine is thoroughly degassed before you bottle it. Aging in a carboy will help your wine degas, drop more sediments that will be racked out before bottling, and give you time to add tannins if you wish to later on. The sooner you bottle the more will drop out in the bottle which may end up in the last glass you pour from it and the greater the chance of having a gassy wine which will give it an unpleasant bite upon drinking.

Bottling later rather than sooner is really a matter of going further down the path from good, to better to best. Don't worry, I imagine that most of us bottled our first kit more or less in the timeline in the instructions. As we've progressed and done many more kits we've learned patience, but we still remember the first kit.
 

dcbrown73

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Keeping it in the carboy gives you options to correct any possible issues that develop and increases the odds that you will not have sediment in the bottle. (allowing it more time to drop in the carboy and thus racking it off that sediment.)

I recommend aging in carboys at least six months. More if possible. I age my whites in carboys for six months and my reds six months to a year. (always try for a 9 months year with the reds)
 

BernardSmith

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To answer the question you asked it is best to keep the corks dry. What many of us do is pour some K-meta at sanitizing concentrations into a bowl and over the bowl place a colander. Into the colander (above the liquid) place your corks and put a large plate over the top of the colander. The SO2 gas will sanitize the corks.
 

Johnd

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Will the wine not age as well in the bottle? And if not, Will it turn out a mile away from what it could have been with a year in the carboy? or is it just a small difference that is acceptable for my 1st wine, to get me some bottles so i can enjoy the development of the wine while i wait for other wines to age in bulk.
You received very good advice from the three posters above. This early, your wine, very simply, isn't finished, nor is your job as the winemaker. It's your first wine, and you'll only have one first wine. I still have 5 bottles of my first wine, it's a tad gassy, and has a layer of sediment in the bottles. I pour it carefully through a screened aerator and into a decanter to keep the crapola out of it and to release the last bits of gas. It was bottled in about six weeks and is quite nice, despite the flaws I created by bottling too early.

I wasn't a member here and therefore didn't have the wealth of advice and knowledge available at my fingertips like I did once I joined. I can't go back and do my first wine over again, that horse is out of the gate, but you still have the opportunity to learn early on what many of the rest of us learned by trial and error, and from the fine folks here. Let is sit, if you can, and you can thank us later...............
 

DoctorCAD

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I do rinse my corks in k-meta. Just a few seconds, no cork soaking :)

The rinse bowl gets pretty dirty, so I figure I'd rather not put that dirt inside my wine bottles.
 

crcarey

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I do nothing to the corks. Open sealed bag and stick them in the bottle. I add recommended amount of k-meta and your good to go.
 
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