The better care you take with your wine at the bottling and corking stage, the better the wine will be.
YOUR FINISHED WINE
Your finished wine needs to be clear and stable. Clear means free of particles that could later fall out of suspension and leave a deposit in the bottles. Stable means finished fermenting and with enough sulfites (SO2) present to prevent oxidation and spoiling.
Have you got the right kind of bottles? You should only use bottles that have been designed to take wine corks. A standard wine bottle has a neck opening of 18.5mm (0.7”) diameter. This will accommodate a standard cork of 21 (0.83”) to 24mm (0.95”) diameter. Wine bottles with screw-tops aren’t suitable for corking due to their thin glass wall.
CLEANING & SANITIZING
You need to clean your bottles first and then you need to sanitize them. These are two different things. We recommend you clean them with ECD (Cold Water Detergent) and then sanitize them with EFD sanitizer. The best way to prepare the bottles is with a bottle tree and a bottle rinser. Used together, they turn a tedious job into an effortless affair with bottles in one location for quick bottling afterwards.
FILLING YOUR BOTTLES
A sanitized siphon filler is an excellent tool for getting the fill levels right. Consisting of a rigid tube and a one-way valve, it allows carefully controlled filling. It also helps prevent excessive splashing and agitation of the wine, which can lead to oxidation and dissipation of SO2. Bottles should be filled so that the wine is about 20mm (0.8”) away from the bottom of the cork.. Take care with the amount of airspace you leave as it is very important, while you don’t want to leave a lot of airspace in the bottles you do need to leave enough room under the cork for the compressed air to sit. The cork acts like a piston, pushing whatever air is underneath it into the bottle compressing it down. If there isn’t enough room for the air, the cork could pop right back out, refusing to stay put in the bottle. Corks should be flush or just below the neck of the bottle so corkers with an adjustable plunger will need to be set correctly.
Synthetic corks can cause some problems here with the exception of the Nomacorc which allows a transfer of oxygen over time. Natural wine corks allow the transfer of pressure through the cork over a period of time whereas synthetic corks retain that pressure.
After bottling be sure to leave your bottles STANDING for AT LEAST 3 to 5 days ( unless you are using a DIAM Cork ) as corks do not recover immediately to a natural complete seal. So placing the bottle on its side after corking will cause two problems – leakages, and pressure in the bottle which can in future cause the cork to be pushed out.