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When Is My Wine Ready To Bottle?

Posted on October 6, 2015 by Ed Kraus There have been 18 comment(s)

Three homemade wines that are ready to be bottled.What is the best way to tell when my wine is ready to bottle?

Thank You,
Rick, IN
Hello Rick,

Great question, and an important one too. The last thing anyone wants to do is bottle their wine too soon. This is especially important if you plan on handing any of it out as wine making gifts. A significant amount of sediment could eventually form in the wine bottle, or worse yet, corks could possibly start pushing out and cause a mess.

Fortunately for us home winemakers, it's very easy to determine if a wine is ready to be bottled. Here is what has to happen before you can bottle your wine:

1. Your wine has to be completely clear. There should be no more sediment that needs to fall out. Most of the sediment you'll be dealing with is made up of tiny, microscopic yeast cells. These cells are as fine as flour. It is important to understand that even the slightest amount of murkiness in the wine at bottling time could lead to sediment in the wine bottles later. Give the wine plenty of time to clear. If you're not sure wait, longer.

2. Your wine should read less than .998 on the Specific Gravity scale of your wine hydrometer. This is telling you that the fermentation process has actually finished and hasn't just stalled out halfway, or still fermenting very slowly as a stuck fermentation. If you do not have a wine hydrometer I would urge you to get one. They are not that expensive and can save you a lot of problems in the long run.Shop Degassing Paddles

3. The wine should be free of any residual CO2 gas. This is the gas that occurs when the wine ferments. CO2 gas is the same stuff that makes beer foam and soda pop fizzy. Once the wine is taken off the sediment, you can stir the wine to get this gas to release. You may want to consider purchasing a Degassing/Mixing Paddle to help you with this process. It is a paddle that attaches to a hand drill and will fit in the opening of a carboy as well as an opening of a plastic fermenter.

Best Wishes,
Ed Kraus
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

This post was posted in Wine Making Blog

18 thoughts on “When Is My Wine Ready To Bottle?”

  • Mike Panichello
    Mike Panichello October 7, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    my wine has a yeast smell and taste to it.....................................................................

  • Customer Service
    Customer Service October 8, 2015 at 7:29 am

    Mike, a yeast smell or odor would indicate that there is still "some" yeast in the wine. If there is currently some sediment in your container, I would rack the wine of the sediment and let it sit long. I would also consider the degassing mentioned above. This will reduce the odor.

  • Bill Kolosi

    You recommend the wine reach a SG of .998 before bottling but is that true for sweetened wines as well? I am making my first Port from a kit and it recommends bottling at between 1.015 and 1.020.

  • Customer Service
    Customer Service October 10, 2015 at 7:47 am

    Bill, you are just fine following those directions. The .998 comment was based on a dry wine that has fermented all but a tracable amount of the available sugars. Your situation is completely different.

  • John Thomas

    How do you know when your wine it totally degassed??

  • Customer Service
    Customer Service October 12, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    John, the simplest way to go about it is to agitate the wine until the foaming stops. You should agitate the wine in way that does not allow air to get saturated into it. This means hard, forceful stirring without splashing the wine. If you agitate the wine in this way the only foaming you will see will be caused by CO2 gas. When you see no more foaming, you are done.

  • derek

    Hi, I put my wine in the carboy and left the sediments behind after primary fermentation. I was at an sg of 1 by the time i racked and has stopped fermenting and clear after 2 weeks in the carboy, I have the wine half way up the shoulder and not too the neck. i think i was shorted on my 6 gallons. im told its too much head room and afraid of oxidation. but other say its fine. I do not want to water it down, alter taste with other wines, or add marbles if I can avoid it. When can I bottle? can I bottle it for aging or should I bulk age? I only racked once between the two frementation stages. If I rack once more then let it sit a week then bottle am I hurting anything? If I bottle I wont have the air issue. I can rack it again and leave it for another week and possible even rerack a third time with this much head room, should I be concerned with the air thats in it? air is bad I understand that but theres no way to block out all air so there must be an acceptable amount. is my amount of air ok for a few more weeks or months if i age in bulk? or do you recommened I bottle? pics/blog below if your interested in seeing it.

  • Customer Service
    Customer Service October 14, 2015 at 6:58 am

    Derek, I understand you concerns about oxidation, but you also need to be concerned about ending up with sediment in your wine bottles. A wine needs to be given plenty of time to drop our all the wine yeast. You did not mention if you added sulfites to the wine at all. If not, I would rack the wine off any sediment, add sulfites and top off the carboy with another wine. Any dry, white wine will do.

  • Ben

    I'm making fruit wine and i'm wondering how you know when this is ready to be bottled. What hydrometer reading should i have before i attempt this.
    many thanks

  • Customer Service
    Customer Service October 16, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    Ben, read #2 in the above post.

  • Janelle

    Made cranberry wine, followed the directions, bottled after 1 yr and left it age for 1 whole year and still tastes so strong like liquor. Way to strong to drink alone and flavor is not great. Did I do something wrong to produce such a strong wine?

  • Customer Service
    Customer Service October 18, 2015 at 9:59 am

    Jenelle, the only thing that controls the resulting alcohol level is the amount of sugar in the wine must that ferments. The more sugar that ferments, the more alcohol you will have in the wine. The only thing I could suggest at this point is cutting the wine as you drink it with Cranberry juice.

  • Amin

    Dear Customer Service!
    I'd like to know when to separate must from wine(after must sediment or immediately after ML fermentation?I worry touching the must with wine makes some problems or leads to decrease the final quality.


  • Customer Service
    Customer Service October 20, 2015 at 7:28 am

    Amin, I assume you mean the sediment when you say, "must". You should siphon the wine off the sediment once the yeast fermentation stops, and again, after the wine has cleared.

  • Dave

    I am about to embark on my first homebrew wine making kit. It is a Cantina Shiraz 21 Litre kit. My question is simple. In order to identify if there is no more CO2 remaining in my wine, is it purely down to seeing if there is any froth after vigorously stirring?

  • Customer Service
    Customer Service October 22, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    Dave, that is pretty much it. You will always be able to get some frothing on the surface just from the fact that the wine does has some surface tension. What you don't want to see is a bunch of bubbles rising as the wine is still being agitated. One thing you may want to consider is getting is a degassing mixer. We have one called "The Whip" it attaches to a hand drill.

    The Whip

  • Tass

    Hi... I am a first-time home wine maker... I have a white wine that I have added metabisulfate to to clear the wine before bottling...

    The wine has cleared and there are large deposits on the bottom... also when I stirred the carboy a bubbly foam formed on the top... Is this CO2?

    Is this wine ready for bottling or do I need to rack it again?

    Any help is appreciated.

  • Customer Service
    Customer Service October 24, 2015 at 8:06 am

    Tass, you need to let the wine sit without stirring for a while to give it time to settle. If more sediment settles than before, then the wine is still clearing. Give it more time. If no new sediment is being created you can then siphon the wine off the sediment into a clean vessel.

    The bubbles you are seeing is CO2 gas. You will need to degas the wine after siphoning.

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