How to cork a wine bottle using a hand corker.

This is my first ever instructional video explaining  How to cork a wine bottle.

bottle corker

The bottle corker

Why do we bottle  wine

Putting wine into a  bottle with a cork is an excellent way of keeping the wine until you want to drink it. When wine is stored it should only have a very small amount of oxygen available. Uncorking  a bottle of wine is a pleasant ritual which many prefer to using a screwtop bottle. The corks seen in the video are number 9 corks and are they are the most common. They should last 10 years with no problem.

When to bottle wine
The simple anwser is when no more gasses will be created which could cause the bottle to explode. Wine made from Grapes is picked in the Autumn. The initial very vigourous primary fermentation when most of the sugar is converted into alcohol, lasts about 10 days. The fertmentation then slows down and then many people say that the wine should be kept in a cool place for the  first winter.  The cold temperature seems to help the wine clear. The wine is just about drinkable by March of the following year and by May it should taste good. However, wine is not generally bottled until at least one year after it was first  picked because  sometimes  more subtle types of fermentation can occur such as maleoactic fermentation. This could create carbon dioxide which may cause the bottle to explode. Other types of wine such as champagne and fizzy wine can be bottled when fermentation is still active but they need high pressure bottles and a special cork. It is possible to stop a wine fermenting when it is still sweet by adding Potassium Sorbate which stop the yeast reproducing. However we never put chemicals of any kind into our wine.

 
Cork crusher

Where the cork is crushed.

The video below explains how we put cork into the bottles. For a very small producer like ourselves, a small floor mounted hand corker is enough for our needs. In reality we store a lot of our wine in recycled 5 litre plastic containers. However, a bottle of wine with a cork and a label is a pleasant object so we always bottle some to give away as gifts and to add a sense of occasion when sitting around the table etc. By the way the sphincter like crusher in the centre is called an iris. It dilates and reatracts a bit like the iris in an eye.

Es vino …..

First glass of wine

First glass of wine

There is a Spanish saying which says: “Para San Andrés, vino o vinagre es”. The idea is that on St. Andrew’s Day – 30th November – you should be able to taste whether the wine will be vinegar or wine.

A day later, on the 1st December, we tried our wine and it was not vinegar. It didn’t taste that great which I suppose is normal but at least we haven’t got 400 litres of vinegar for salad.

Pressing the grapes

wine2eYesterday, 15th October 2013, was Day 10 of the grape must being in the vats for the first fermentation and so it was time to press the grapes.

Wine press for pressing the grapes

Wine press for pressing the grapes

The wine press consists of wooden vertical slats, blocks of wood and a cog-like mechanism. The two sections of the wooden slats are placed on the metal base and locked together.

The pressed grapes and must are then transferred from the vats and poured into the press.

Pouring the grapes and must into the press

Pouring the grapes and must into the press

We had used 4 plastic vats (each with a capacity of 225 litres) for the first stage of fermentation with the 610kg of grapes divided among them. We consolidated the grapes and must into three of these and cleaned the fourth so that we could start filling it with the pressed juice.

When the level of the grapes reached the top of the press, the rest of the press was assembled: the two semi-circular wooden boards were placed on top and then the wooden blocks were placed alternately perpendicular on these and then the pressing mechanism was screwed down. It was wound down by hand until it reached the blocks and pressing began.

Gear-like mchechanism of the wine press

Gear-like mchechanism of the wine press

The are two rings of holes: the outer ring is like 1st gear and the inner ring is like 2nd gear.

When as much juice has been extracted from the grapes, the press is dismantled and the cake of grapes, skins and pips is removed.

wine2c wine2bHere is a picture of the first glass of grape juice. It has a pleasant taste.

First glass of the grape juice

First glass of grape juice

Wine recipe

Wine stick for mixing wine

Wine stick for mixing wine

Our recipe for making wine was jotted down on a small piece of paper by the man in the shop selling the wine equipment.

wine-recipe

Wine recipe and instructions

The wine is started in four plastic vats, each holding about 150 litres. Because of the possibility of the wine overflowing when it starts to ferment, we decided to use a fourth one. The grapes are first destemmed and crushed by machine and then transferred over into the vats.For each 100ml,1 tablet of Potassium metasulphate is crushed and added to the liquid.

MACERATING THE GRAPES – MACERANDO LAS UVAS
The vats are then left for 7-10 days and  and are mixed three times a day using a wooden pole nailed to a square piece of wood with holes drilled in it so as to thoroughly submerge the grapes that float to the top. This process is know as “punching down the cap”.

MACERATION is the process by which the tannins, colouring agents (or anthocyanins) and flavours of the grape are broken down from the grape skins, seeds and stems into the grape juice or must. Maceration occurs during the first stage of wine-making but also continues throughout the second stage of fermentation.

FERMENTING THE GRAPES – FERMENTANDO LAS UVAS
FIRST FERMENTATION
During the first fermentation, the grape juice is then pressed in a grape press and returned to clean, plastic vats. The vats are left for 30 days.

During FERMENTATION, carbon dioxide is released when the sugar in the must is converted into alcohol. The process of maceration continues during this stage.

SECONDARY FERMENTATION
After 30 days, the liquid is transferred to a stainless steel “always full” vat and left for a further 60 days. The idea of the “always full” vat is that has a lid surrounded by an inflatable tube which adjusts to the diameter of the vat. Whenever liquid is removed from the vat, the lid is then lowered and the tube prevents any air from entering.

The secondary fermentation or ageing process is slower and can take any time from three to six months.