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When Is My Wine Ready To Bottle?

Posted on October 6, 2015 by Ed Kraus There have been 31 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
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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
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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

31 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.....................................................................

    Reply
  • Walter Gilley

    How would you recommend keeping the sediment separate from the clear wine when bottling?

    Reply
    • Ed Kraus

      Walter. once the wine is clear and ready to bottle, you need to transfer the wine away from the sediment into another sanitized fermenter before bottling. The process of transferring the wine is called racking the wine. The article below will explain the process in more detail.

      Racking Wine
      http://www.eckraus.com/wine-making-racking

      Reply
    • fred

      siphon the wine to avoid the sediment

      Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • John Thomas

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

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • 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.
    http://rmm.budlog.net/sbc/?page_id=81

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • 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

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

    Ben, read #2 in the above post.

    Reply
  • 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?

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • 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.

    Regards,
    Amin

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • 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?

    Reply
  • 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
    http://www.eckraus.com/whip-degassing.html

    Reply
  • 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.
    Cheers

    Reply
  • Joy

    Hi, I have a 5 gal carboy that is filled to about 6-7 inches below the neck of bottle. It's plum wine that I have sweetened. (And would like to keep it sweet/semi-sweet) I started it on Sept. 24, and been checking with hydrometer about once/twice a week. Its settling, but still is cloudy and bubbly...tastes good though! Do you recommend racking now, or should iI let it sit awhile longer?? ...I want it to have the highest alcohol content as possible without ruining it. Right now the hydrometer reading is 1.020. Do I wait til its closer to .998? Also, if i would like it sweeter, if and when could I add more dissolved sugar?

    Reply
    • Ed Kraus

      Joy, first let me say that if you started the wine on 9-24 and have not yet racked the wine, you need to do so now. If you leave the wine on the sediment too long it could develop off flavors. The reason it is cloudy and bubbly is because it is still fermenting and you need to let it complete by reaching a specific gravity reading of .998 or less. Once the fermentation is complete, the wine is clear and ready to bottle, you can back-sweeten to your own taste. Below I have posted the links to a couple of articles that you provide you with a more detailed explanation of sweetening and racking your wine.

      Racking Your Wine
      http://www.eckraus.com/wine-making-racking
      Making Sweet Wines
      http://www.eckraus.com/wine-making-sweet

      Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • Randy

    How long should I chill my wine to make sure any tartaric crystals fall to the bottom before I can bottle it
    ?
    Thanks

    Reply
  • Christian

    Hey there, first time winemaker here. Lots of different opinions and strategies on the internet so i just wanted to run my method by ya and see if you think its pretty solid. Making a cab merlot blend (about 15 gallons in a demijohn). Set in primary fermentation for about 8 days until bubbling greatly reduced. Racked wine off the sediment into another demijohn. Taste test revealed good flavor but obviously bubbly a little cloudy and not finished. Its been in secondary fermentation for like 4 weeks now and bubbling is almost at a standstill maybe once every 2 minutes. (Which i assume is just slight CO2 release). Havent degassed yet, but am ready to. After degassing Is it ready for bottling ya think? Do you reccommend adding a fining agent? Sorbate needed for a dark red? Obviously looking to build upon and develop my own personal technique, but dont want to make 15 gallons!! of cruddy wine on the first go at it. Thanks

    Reply
    • Ed Kraus

      Christian, the first thing that I would advise doing is taking a hydrometer reading to verify that the fermentation is in fact complete before proceeding to degassing or adding any fining agents. Once the specific gravity reading reaches .998 or less, the fermentation is complete. Once you have verified that is is complete the wine should start clearing on its own. However, you can add a fining agent to help the process along. Once the wine is clear and degassed it is ready to bottle. Potassium Sorbate is added to prevent re-fermentation of the wine if you decide to back sweeten it before bottling.

      Reply
  • Morgan

    Hello,
    Quick question. I have one gallon of wine from grape concentrate that is stuck at sg 1.030 for over a month. It is clear and tastes good but I'm not sure if it can be bottled yet or not.

    Reply
    • Ed Kraus

      Morgan, it sounds like you are experiencing a stuck fermentation. You need to get the fermentation to complete before you bottle the wine. The fermentation is not complete until the specific gravity reaches .998 or less. If you bottle the wine before it completes you run the risk of the fermentation starting up again in the bottles. If this occurs, the corks could pop or the bottles could explode. To fix a stuck fermentation you need to find out was is the cause. Please take a look at the article posted below to see which of the most common causes apply to your situation.

      Fermentation Failure
      http://www.eckraus.com/wine-making-failure

      Reply
  • Lynn

    Hello,
    I have my first chardonnay wine kit going. I thought I reached a gravity reading of 0.098 but now on bottling day, my gravity reading looks like 1.000. Maybe I was just hoping the reading was on target. I added the Sorbet and the liquigel cause I thought it was ready. Can I still bottle it? It also tastes super boozy. I made two other batches from store bought purple grape juice and they are already at 0.95 after the fist fermentation process. Can I let the Chardonnay sit in a sealed container with no air lock? It sat for a week and did not bubble at all.

    Thanks,

    Reply
    • Ed Kraus

      Lynn, there is nothing wrong with letting the wine sit a little longer. It can age in bulk as well as in the bottle, so if you are not sure about your hydrometer reading, let is sit a few days. If nothing happens bottle. If something did happen and your hydrometer reading is .998, then bottle. No harm done!

      Reply
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