Sterilizing Corks

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smurfe

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You need to sanitize them but you do not need to sterilize them. Most corks today (agglomerate) need just a quick rinse in a sanitizer. You don't need to soak them and you don't want to boil them.

What I usually do is take a large plastic bowl and dump some sanitizing solution in it (I use sodium metabisulfate) and throw in the corks and swish them around. Sometimes I drain the solution out but normally I just leave it in the bowl and grab my corks out of the bowl as I bottle.

Smurfe:)
 

cpfan

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Smurfe's right. One diff, I drain them in a colander. To each their own.

Steve
 

Luc

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Burch,

I totally agree with Smurfe and Steve.

And indeed DO NOT BOIL CORKS as boiling will damage the sturcture
of natural corks.

Concerning sanitising and sterilising.
This depends on the brand and quality of the corks. There are a few cork
manufacturers who sell their corks in an airtight plastic bag which is filled with
clean air and sulphite gas. In this case even a sanitation is not necessary.

Mostly I do as Smurfe and Steve do, just bathe them in a sulphite solution for a few minutes.

Luc
 

Trubador

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You need to sanitize them but you do not need to sterilize them. Most corks today (agglomerate) need just a quick rinse in a sanitizer. You don't need to soak them and you don't want to boil them.

What I usually do is take a large plastic bowl and dump some sanitizing solution in it (I use sodium metabisulfate) and throw in the corks and swish them around. Sometimes I drain the solution out but normally I just leave it in the bowl and grab my corks out of the bowl as I bottle.

Smurfe:)

I will be bottling for my first time in a few weeks. I have always sanitized brewing equipment and wine making equipment with Iodophor. This is an "air dry" iodine based sanitizer. Something is telling me NOT to soak my corks in the iodophor solution. Is this correct? Or is soaking them in iodophor acceptable? If not, what sanitizing solutions are available for corks?

I had heard that natural corks needed to be soaked in water for some set amount of time prior to bottling, is that true?

Basically, I'm looking for some generic instruction on bottling. Not how to rack it or siphon or use a bottling wand, but how to cork. I have only capped beer bottles and am a bit intimidated right now over corking the wine bottles. I have a double lever corker by the way.
 

smurfe

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I have never used the solution you use so I don't really know anything about it. I just use Sodium Metabisulfate to sanitize. What kind of corks are you going to use? 100% natural corks are soaked. Most use the agglomerate corks today and those are not soaked or boiled. It will break the corks down. They are basically ground up natural cork glued together.

Smurfe :)
 

cpfan

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I rinse (NOT soak) my corks in Iodophor and then drain in a colander. Some people report that the hand corkers work better if the corks are kept damp.

The process depends to some degree of how many people are working at the bottling. We used to always have two people working...one filling, t'other corking. If you're by yourself, you could fill all the bottles, then cork them all. If you're low on counterspace you could fill 6, and then cork 6. I don't think it matters.

Here's my overview....

1) clean bottles - can be done in advance
2) sanitize bottles & set to drain.
3) fill & cork
4) apply shrink caps
5) apply wine labels

Steve
 

Tophe

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Hi guys....new here and have a question regarding this.....I just bottled my first batch and didnt think about sanitizing the corks before putting htem in. I mostly brew beer and am good about sanitizing everything but it was a long day sunday and when i got to bottling my wine I just opened them up and started corking, when i should have done a little research first.

I used first quality corks since that was all that had at my local hbs. They were all new right out of the pack so hopefully that helps me out.

Any suggestions....will I be alright? should I pull corks and recork, or too late for that, just wait and see how the wine turns out?

Thanks
 

smurfe

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What type of cork did you use? Many people do not sanitize their agglomerate corks. I personally do even if I freshly opened the bag of them. The corks that are in a sealed bag have a gas injected into the bag to help preserve the corks and keep them sanitary. If you used natural "real" corks, there is more of a need to sanitize although cork manufactures sanitize them pretty good.

It is basically the same thing they do for oak chips and cubes. It is fine to open them up and dump them in without sanitizing. In reality, when you sanitize the agglomerate corks all you are basically doing is rinsing any dust off of them from the other corks. If you practice good housekeeping with your wine making you should be fine.
 

madrean

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What I usually do is take a large plastic bowl and dump some sanitizing solution in it (I use sodium metabisulfate) and throw in the corks and swish them around. Sometimes I drain the solution out but normally I just leave it in the bowl and grab my corks out of the bowl as I bottle.

Smurfe:)

true that.

oh ya, spend the 60 bucks and get the "portuguese" floor corker. it is money well spent. bottles won't go flying, it literally takes 10 seconds to place the bottle, place the cork, and press the cork. and the sound it makes is really cool too.

you can get it at austin home brew supply.
 

jdymen

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I will be bottling for my first time in a few weeks. I have always sanitized brewing equipment and wine making equipment with Iodophor. This is an "air dry" iodine based sanitizer. Something is telling me NOT to soak my corks in the iodophor solution. Is this correct? Or is soaking them in iodophor acceptable? If not, what sanitizing solutions are available for corks?

I had heard that natural corks needed to be soaked in water for some set amount of time prior to bottling, is that true?

Basically, I'm looking for some generic instruction on bottling. Not how to rack it or siphon or use a bottling wand, but how to cork. I have only capped beer bottles and am a bit intimidated right now over corking the wine bottles. I have a double lever corker by the way.

I have worked with iodine products before. Its messy, you have to rinse very well or any trace of iodine will leave smell and taste to the wine. Its great to sanitize bottles and the hoses or pumps, but not recomendable for uneven surfaces (like corks).

I useed to sanitize equipment: Caustic (or any basic sanitizer), rinse, Citric acid, rinse, Iodine, and rinse. Iodine it is not that necesary in this case as i think, the head winemaker liked it this way.

Another sanitizer you can use is Mandate, its a milk factory sanitizer, you can substitute the citric acid with it, it works better.

Always use gloves and goggles when using caustic or acids.

Just use PMS in warm water to sterilize corks. The cork surface is very uneven, and you may get residues of products. The only 2 ways of cleaninng barrels (similar surface) are Ozone and PMS + Brush. I have used peroxide, but is more to take out the stains and only in the outside.
 
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danroh

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corks

I made a cork humidor out of a 1 gal pal with a lid. I set a screen 2 inch off the bottom. I fill the bottom inch with sulfide and the corks sit dry on the screen.
 
H

Helen

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Boiled corks

I had never boiled corks before and never had a problem, but I purchased some new corks and the instructions on the package recommended putting them in boiling water and letting them steam 10 minutes. I noticed that the outside of the corks appeared slightly split on some, but used them anyway. What should I do now? If these corks start to deteriorate, will there be signs? I bottled about 20 bottles this way and don't want them to go bad. Please advise. Thanks very much.
 

Sacalait

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Helen
I've never boiled any corks so I can't really relate to this. But in your post you stated the corks "appeared slightly cracked"...that is not a good sign. Lay the bottles on their side and watch for leakage. If leakage occurs you may have to remove those corks and replace them. Smurfe and Cpfan gave good advice on sanitizing.
 

samkoyax5

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we use a solution of low % alcohol solution, is it right or will/does it have effect on the properties of the cork or its functonability.
 

Runningwolf

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we use a solution of low % alcohol solution, is it right or will/does it have effect on the properties of the cork or its functonability.
If you have a floor corker don't do anything. Insert them as they are. You should not ever soak corks.
 

bkisel

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I used to set corks in k-meta solution, shake off and insert. Now having an Italian floor corker I'm moving to the cork humidor idea. My wife has some sort of kitchen gadget that she uses for streaming vegetables and such. I'll pour some k-meta solution into a pot, put the screen gadget thing in and the corks will sit on the screen to get gassed. Pot lid will of course be put on the pot. I'll do this maybe a half hour or so before I start bottling and corking.
 
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dralarms

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I was rinsing mine in kmeta, but have stopped and just insert them dry. If I have a stubborn bottle, I'll take the ole cheapo corker that comes with the cheap kits and slap it once and it's seated correctly. Don't have to do it much since I adjusted my floor corker.
 

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