Winemaking: A Homebrewer’s Perspective – Pt. 4: Stabilizing, Clarification, & Prepping Bottles

Used Wine BottlesPart 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5
After degassing my Shiraz winemaking kit, now it’s time to stabilize the wine and clarify it. Things have gone pretty smoothly so far, but with bottling day on the horizon, I need to start getting bottles ready for filling.

Stabilizing & Clarification
As expected, this next step was pretty straightforward:

  1. Sanitize a stirring spoon
  2. Mix in the potassium sorbate (the stabilizer)
  3. Mix in the kieselsol (the clarifier)
  4. Let it sit for another 5-7 days

Done! So far, I continue to find this winemaking this pretty efficient!
Now for what is likely to be the most labor intensive part of this whole process: removing labels from 30 used wine bottles to get them ready for filling.

Removing Labels from Glass Wine Bottles

As a seasoned homebrewer, I‘ve known about the “joy” of removing labels for some time. Luckily, after a couple years of brewing, I’ve accumulated plenty of clean, label-free bottles and have since moved on to kegging, so I haven’t had to remove any labels in quite some time. But still, I remember how difficult removing labels can be.
So even though I was mentally prepared for the job of removing label, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to it. But I just reminded myself that it would get me one step closer to having some 30 bottles of red wine ready to share with friends and family, so last night, I decided to go ahead and get the process started.
Luckily, Ed has shared some tips for removing wine bottle labels on the E. C. Kraus Winemaking Blog. The gist of the instructions include:

  • Soaking the bottles in hot water and One Step over night.
  • Hopefully the easy ones will slide right off.
  • The more difficult labels will take some elbow grease (and a scraper of some sort) to remove.

Shop Wine BottlesThankfully, most of my salvaged wine bottles had paper labels, so sure enough, most of them came off without too much extra effort. (Somehow I’d managed to sort out the plastic-adhesive type labels out early on.)
So in a few more days, I’ll blaze forward and bottle this wine! I’m not entirely sure about how the corking is going to go (note to self: go buy some corks!), but if things continue to go as easily as they have been, pretty soon I’ll be pretty well stocked with Shiraz!
Review the earlier posts in this series below:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5
Are you a homebrewer interested in winemaking? So far, I’d highly recommend it!

David Ackley is a writer, brewer, and craft beer marketing consultant. He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder and editor of the Local Beer Blog.