Proper cleaning and sanitation are crucial to ensure the safety and quality of your homemade wine. Find out what the process involves and how to do it right.
To ensure that things go smoothly and successfully, you need to prepare your wine supplies and uphold cleanliness in your work area. This means cleaning and sanitizing your bottles, tools, and equipment properly before and after every use.
Doing this isn’t as straightforward as you think, as a standard household dishwashing liquid isn’t going to cut it. Doing this would leave soap residue on your bottles that could affect the taste of your fermented wine. While cleaning and sanitizing may not be the most exciting part of the winemaking process, it’s important to ensure the quality of your homemade wine.
Below are the steps on cleaning and sanitizing your wine equipment.
How do I clean and sanitize?
Cleaning and sanitizing wine making supplies is a two-step process. The first step aims to remove all the obvious dirt and grime on your equipment, and the second eliminates all germs and bacteria that can contaminate your fermented wine.
1. Pre-rinse using the stainless steel bottle washer
Before making your homemade grape wine juice, clean your supplies using fresh tap water and pressure to dislodge any excess gunk or unwanted residue.
You can use a bottle washer for your bottles, which you can attach to the faucet for quick and easy cleaning. There are also automatic bottle washers that can clean and sanitize multiple bottles in a matter of minutes. When rinsing, use cold tap water and finish with hot water. Make sure the hot water does not exceed 125 °F or 51 °C; otherwise, it will damage plastic-based equipment or tools.
2. Wash wine bottles with an appropriate cleaning agent
Regular household dishwashing soap is not the answer for cleaning wine equipment. It can leave residue and affect the taste of your wine. That’s why it’s better to use cleaning agents meant to eliminate bacteria. It’s also worth studying what’s compatible with your tools’ type of material (e.g., glass, stainless steel, etc.).
- Oxidizing agents: This pertains to chemicals like hydrogen peroxide. While hydrogen peroxide can deliver some degree of sanitization, it’s better to use them as cleaners. Percarbonates, a combination of sodium carbonate and hydrogen peroxide, can effectively remove dirt and other contaminants from all types of winemaking equipment.
- Surfactants: Short for surface-active agents, surfactants like detergents work to lift and disperse dirt by decreasing the surface tension of liquids or between a liquid and solid to make cleaning easy.
- Pre-made: Professional Brewery Wash (PBW) is a non-caustic, buffered alkaline cleaning agent that gets rid of stubborn stains and is safe to use on stainless steel, glass, brass, and plastic, generally used for beer making. One Step No-Rinse Cleaner (also known as Aseptox) contains sodium carbonate and sodium percarbonate; It’s a well-known household detergent used by winemakers at home.
3. Choose a sanitizing solution
Sanitizing is crucial to ensure that there are no contaminating microorganisms left in your winemaking instruments. There are two ways to do this: use heat or chemical sanitizers. Like cleaning agents, remember to use sanitizing agents suitable for the type of material to be sanitized.
- Heat: Heat is a convenient way to sanitize tools and equipment. Microorganisms are killed when they are exposed to high temperatures for a long time. You can use an oven (dry heat), pressure cooker, or dishwasher (steam) to sanitize wine making items.
- Iodophor: This is a new sanitizing agent in home winemaking. Iodophor is often used to sanitize equipment in the foodservice and medical industries. It’s a no-rinse sanitizer used to soak or spray on the equipment, then allowing it to dry.
- Sodium metabisulfite and potassium bisulfite: These are two of the most commonly used and most effective sanitizing solutions for winemaking. Substantial doses of potassium bisulfite are effective in sanitizing equipment without adverse effects. For a less costly option, you may use the more popular sodium metabisulfite.
- Acid sanitizers: These are widely used in the food and beverage industry because they wipe equipment clean and clear of water spots. Acid sanitizers, like phosphoric acid, are also effective in eradicating microorganisms. Star San and Saniclean use phosphoric acid with surfactants, making them a one-step cleaner and sanitizer. The downside is they are corrosive to soft metals.
4. Final rinse (optional)
This may be optional, but a final rinse is never a bad idea. Wash your tools and equipment one last time thoroughly with fresh, clean, and cool water. Drain excess water from each piece and check to ensure there are no residual odors. If you smell an odor persisting even after pouring or filling them with odor-free water, clean them again.
Proper Cleaning and Sanitizing: The Key to Delicious Wine
If you’ve been making wine long enough, you’d know that winemakers who complain about their bottles tasting off can be traced back to poor cleaning and sanitizing. Make it a part of your winemaking process to clean and sanitize your items before and after every use. Proper preparation will not only make your winemaking experience easier but also make your final product a success.
Are you in the market looking for wine supplies? Check out Danny’s Wine and Beer—it’s a one-stop shop for winemaking ingredients, starter kits, and cleaning equipment you’ll need to make the best wines at home.