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Rebottling questions
OK, so I've gotten the hang of this and the holidays are coming up. I have a few friends I'm planning to get an EZcap set for as a gift, but I'd like to give a bottle of my brews with it to help show them how it's done.

So my question is, where do you buy fresh bottles for gifting purposes? So far I've just been using my old soda bottles, but that seems a bit crass for sharing with friends.

Any suggestions? Should I stick with plastic or can I move it to glass after clarifying? What tops work best to retain the carbonation?

Most local homebrew stores sell bottles for this purpose. My problem with this is that the empty new bottles cost as much as buying ones full of something at the store.

My favorite rebottling technique is to use Talking Rain bottles. It might be a regional product, so I will describe it, it's a 20 ounce carbonated water. The labels are easy to remove. For bottle caps for gifting, buy the unused PET bottle caps with the tamper evident ring. It's not something we normally sell on the web site, but if you need some I can give them to you for a reasonable s/h charge.

The important thing is to make sure the fermentation is completed. If you put it in a glass bottle and seal it tight, and it is still fermenting, you could have a small explosion to clean up. Its one of the reasons why I like the talking rain bottles, because they are designed to hold carbonation. I filled a bunch one time and for whatever odd reason, one (and only one) of them continued to ferment. When I found it the bottle had swollen in size about 25% but amazingly was still holding.
If you plan on bottling your finished EZ cap wine you need to stabilize it so that the yeast can no longer multiply and this is accomplished with potassium sorbate and Campden tablets/potassium metasulfite(aka k-meta)...common wine making supplies found at local home brew shops (LHBS) for less than $2 each. There will be instructions on the bottles but for example you add 1/2 tsp of sorbate per gallon along with 1 Campden tablet (the k-meta is a powder form that you have to measure) that has been dissolved in some warm water...figure there are 4 liters per gallon (close enough) and you will be fine by mixing your sorbate + Campden in 1/4 cup warm water-making sure dissolved and then use 1/8 cup stabilizing solution per 2liters of finished wine. It is IMPORTANT that you use both additives because they work with each other. A bottle of sorbate and a bottle of Campden tabs will stabilize MANY MANY batches of wine for you!
You can then bottle your wines..if your wine is still bubbly and you want them in GLASS, then you want to use Champagne bottles,Grolsh style bottles or any other bottle that held a bubbly alcoholic beverage because they can handle the pressure caused by the dissolved CO2 in the wine. A basic wine bottle is NOT appropriate for sparkling wine--asking for an accident. You can use new or used, think about things that you buy in liquor store--if it is bubbly save the bottle when you are done drinking. You can even use your Campden/k-meta as a cleaning solution (instructions on container or easily found on web). Stop by area restaurants or bars and ask for certain bottles. Most LHBS carry cases of PET bottles and screw-on caps that you can safely bottle your flat or still wine in, no problems. If you don't have a store in your area and you want NEW, check online vendors like Midwest Supply,, NorthernBrewer, SouthernHomebrew....use the web to your advantage but remember glass is expensive to ship so you will be better off finding it locally (visit wineries, most give their empties away or for pennies PLUS you can make friends with the vintner); and many online vendors offer free shipping of non-freight items like glass if you hit a certain price point or offer reasonable shipping anyway.
If you don't want to use additives then your finished wine will need to be kept in the refrigerator at all times and realize that a sweet wine will change in taste over a period of time in the refrigerator....eventually the yeast will drop into hibernation but when that wine starts to warm up again they wake up. The sorbate creates an environment that the yeast cannot multiply and continue fermenting, the Campden is a sulphite--a safety mechanism, and refrigeration will help knock the yeast when the wine warms up the sorbate won't let them start working again...but the sorbate ONLY works at its best if you use the Campden/k-meta (adding more of it won't help, it will only affect the taste of your wine).
As a beginner I would go with PET bottles. Even if you collect used ones and clean them in the Campden solution that is fine, you can buy a pack of 20 new lids for about $5 online/on eBay/in stores. Then as you get more experienced you can work with glass bottles. If you don't have a corker, no worry, buy "bar top or T-corks"--they have the flat wooden head with a basic cork below, no need for a corker and easy to remove. Even the plastic tasting corks (10 for $2 or $3 in my area) will work if you don't plan to AGE your wine but plan for consumption within a few days...the plastic corks can be washed and reused!
Hope that helps.
My EZ Cap Adventures:
Cinnamon Fireweed Mead
Juicy Juice Berry
Hard Apple Cider
CoconutWhiteGrape--in progress

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