Bottling Wine & First Batch Sampling

ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)October 17, 2008

This might be a very silly question. I have hundreds of dark colored bottles for red wine. However, one of the reasons I'm making my wine is to use up the fruit that I'm growing on my property (rhubarb, crabapples, apples, currant, chokecherries) to name a few. The only one that produces dark wine is the chokecherry and raspberries, when the birds don't get them.

Is it taboo to use colored bottles for lighter colored wines? For some reason it just doesn't feel right to me. But, I don't want to spend a lot of money purchasing clear bottles when I have an over abundance of colored bottles. What are your thoughts? I guess I can hurry and open the wine and place it in one of my fancy decanters and no one would be the wiser. Most of the wine is for events that we go to and the after event gatherings. So they are people we know.

I opened and tried my very first batch of wine. It was a blackberry wine from frozen blackberries purchased at the store. I LOVED it. My husband was very skeptical and even he enjoyed it and before we knew it the bottle was gone. I only made 1 gallon of it. 4 bottles. We gave 2 bottles away and only have one bottle left. Bummer.

I also bottled a peach/raspberry wine (6 gallons). I tasted a little of it while bottling. I'm a little worried it tasted a bit fizzy like champagne and a little harsh. I can't even explain it. Perhaps a little like vinegar but not that strong. Do you think it will be ok after it sits awhile in the bottles? We are talking 26 bottles, I could have probably gotten more bottles, but panicked thinking it was no good and dumped some of the wine in the carboy as I ran out of corks.

Can you use corks in the screw cap bottles? I have been given some of these and wondered if perhaps they would work ok if the cork fits snug in the bottle?

Last question, where do you buy your lables? I would like to create my own labels. Is there a place you can purchase them for a reasonable price?

Sorry for all the questions. These are my first batches of wine and I'm hoping for the best.

I now have 6 gallons of rhubarb, 1 gallon of chokecherry and 1 gallon of rhubarb/strawberry in carboys. I plan to make apple raspberry in my other 6 gallon carboy this weekend. FUN!!!!

Thank you for any advise.


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makalu_gw(z5b NY)

I think that it's fine for lighter colored wines to be bottled in dark glass. It gives them more protection from damaging sunlight and, as you say, you can always put it in a decanter for people to see the wine. Personally, all of my wines and meads go into dark bottles since I want people to focus on the wine when it's in the drinking glass where it can really shine and be appreciated.

Congratulations on the blackberry wine! When it's well done, blackberry is very tasty and the color is beautiful.

Fizzy while you're bottling can be a couple of things ... either coming out of the racking tube into the bottle very fast and splashing around inside the bottle (which isn't too bad) or the wine is not done fermenting (which is only good if you're intending on it and using champagne bottles). I'd move one of the bottles to a warm spot for a few days and then open carefully to see if it's settled down or if you're making bombs. A little harsh at bottling time is probably not too much to worry about depending on how long you've bulk aged the wine - a lot of that harshness will hopefully go away with a few months in teh bottle.

I've never used screw top bottles with a cork and I haven't seen it recommended. I think it's something to do with the design of the neck on the screw tops and possibly their strength to hold a cork but I don't remember exactly.

I haven't bought labels in a long while - I just grab a graphics package like MS-Publisher or Photoshop and create them there. Then I print them on normal paper, cut to size and attach to the bottles with a glue stick. Works well and it's pretty fast if you have a little help. For the vin ordinaire that I just serve at the house for friends, I'm really lazy and just write what's in the bottle using a silver or gold glass marking pen from Staples.

I have to get brewing again this weekend - I've just been overwhelmed at the though of racking 15 batches to free up some glass but the thought of starting a mandarin orange metheglin and some cyser in season is getting really exciting. Good luck with your batches.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2008 at 8:05AM
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ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)

Thank you Makalu, you've always been so helpful whenever I have a question. Thank you for your kind comments about the blackberry wine. It was very good.

I started an apple/raspberry wine recipe. The thing asks for 100 lbs of apples and I only have a 5 gal bucket which I'm using as my primary fermenter. ha ha. This is going to be a sllooooww process. I'm going to do one gallon at a time until I've reached 6 gallons then I will add my raspberries to the last batch in the primary fermentor. I hope it all works out in the end. It's fun to experiment.

I can see why you would be overwhelmed with 15 batches going. I have 4 going at all times. It takes so long to obtain a completed product.

I'm curious, where do you get all your wine making recipes? I've been googling the web getting my recipes. I initially went to Barnes and Noble but the recipes in the books had some really bizzare ingredients which I did not think I would find.

Good luck getting your wine bottled.


    Bookmark   October 21, 2008 at 10:12AM
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makalu_gw(z5b NY)


100 lbs of apples? Wow, I know that's about the right ratio for a medium / sweet to sweet apple wine but I'd be hoping that the next instructions were to press the juice out of them rather than have to ferment all that volume in small batches.

When I was just starting out I did more beer than wine and got my initial recipes for beers from Charlie Papazian's first book. Then as I moved to wines, I picked up a copy of C.J.J Berry's First Steps in Winemaking. It's dated but it has some nice basic recipes that more or less follow the seasons in England for winemaking. After that, I've been pretty much making them up on my own based on what fruits I like, that are on sale or easily available in my area or as a request from a friend who says "I really like the taste of xxx and yyy - can you make something like that?" I also have a couple of books that I use sometimes as reference (Acton & Duncan - Progressive Winemaking, more technical and less recipes and Folk Wines by Jagendorf, recipes and stories that I picked up at a tag sale) but these days I'm doing things pretty much totally organic and non-sulfite so the books only do so much.

Thanks for the good wishes for bottling ... my biggest problem is that I think of washing bottles as doing dishes and I saved up and got a dishwasher just to avoid that unpleasant task!

    Bookmark   October 22, 2008 at 7:57AM
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ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)

You made me chuckle makalu. I don't like washing the bottles out either ha ha ha. I have 4 boxes of bottles that I have to wash and remove labels. Needless to say...I've been procrastinating with that job also. ha ha.

The next step was either ferment the apples or press them. I don't have a press, so I will take my time and peel and ferment in small batches. I have more time than money right now so I will just take my time and try to enjoy the process.

Thanks for the book titles. I am going to check out Barnes and Nobles again for those specific books and if I can't find them I will look at Amazon or them.


    Bookmark   October 22, 2008 at 10:40PM
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I have been making wine and beer for many years. I will help out with any questions you may have. First, buy a few books on Ebay. Although dated, try George Herter's Home wine book. It will motivate you to experiment with many things from your garden.

We pressed some grapes tonight - about 5,000 pounds worth! Merlot, 2X cabs, and Syrah. We won two gold medals from the American Wine Society for Merlot and Cab this fall.

With patience,even your mistakes will be good. Remember the pectic enzyme in fruit wines. I usually won't touch a wine fora year after bottling. I have had cabs that I thought were terrible, but they were great a year or two later.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2008 at 11:00PM
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ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)

That is great to know. So you don't touch your fruit wines for a year after bottling? That's good to know. I bottled my Peach/Raspberry wine in October. I was going to wait until this summer and give one a try.

It takes so dratted long to get to drink a bottle of wine. I was really hoping to let my friends have some this summer. :(

How long from carboy to bottling does it take you?

Have a great evening...


    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 7:25PM
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ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)

I just reread your post. Congratulations on your gold medals. That's very impressive.

You pressed 5000 lbs of grapes? Holy mackerel. Who picked them all and do you have a large machine that presses them?

I am mostly making wine with the abundance of fruit trees, raspberries, strawberries, grapes and rhubarb we grow. It's been really fun.

How long does wine last in the bottles before it is no longer good to drink?


    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 8:16PM
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What other kind of wine can you blend with ChokeCherry??? I only have enough for two gallons this year and was wondering if anyone blends it, and if so what with?

    Bookmark   September 22, 2011 at 2:22PM
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