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Clearing and Bottling.

Once fermentation is complete, you have wine. However, it will be wine that is murky and a tad tangy, although it should be reasonably drinkable. The aim here is to take this murky alcoholic slosh and turn it into wine that is :

  1. crystal clear
  2. not about to explode
  3. in bottles
  4. drinkable

not necessarily in that order. Wine that looks better tastes better.

You will need to follow some or all of these steps.

  1. Stabilising : Add a campden tablet and a spot of wine stabliser. After 24 hours the last vestiges of fermentation will have ceased, hopefully never to return. It is the vestiges of fermentation that cause the acrid, tangy taste, so stabilising should quell it. If you're sure the fermentation has stopped then this stage is not essential, but if your wine bottles explode in a sticky mess don't blame me.
  2. Fining : Add some wine finings. This is the stuff that grabs the gunk and drags it screaming to the bottom of the demi-john where it can do no harm. It takes about a week. Apparently if you don't have wine finings you can use egg whites, but I've never tried it.
  3. Racking : Carefully siphon the clear wine into a fresh demi-john (or other suitable container) leaving the gunk behind at the bottom.
  4. Tasting : If it's not right, bugger about with it until it is
  5. Filtering : Requires buying a wine filter admitedly, but the results are stunning.
  6. Bottling : Transfer the wine into bottles - either by syphoning or very careful pouring (you will require a funnel at least) - and cork them. I use hybrid plastic/cork things as proper corks are impossible to use without a flogger. You are supposed to get six bottles to the gallon but you won't. It's in the rules.
  7. Labelling : It helps to put a date of bottling on, so you can brag about how old the wine is when you open it. ("Monday! Now that's a good vintage")
  8. Maturing : One of the hardest stages, as it requires not drinking perfectly good wine. However, as a rule, the longer you leave the wine in the bottle the better it will become. In practice, the only way your wine is going to get a chance to mature is to make so much of it that you end up bottling it quicker than you can drink it.

Congratulations! You've made wine! Aren't you clever! You are now ready to graduate to the most important stage of all. You are ready to start drinking.

See also : Preparation
  : Fermentation
  : Drinking
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