Proper cleaning is important for making delicious homemade cider and wine. Here is everything you need to know to sanitize wine making equipment.
The goal of sanitation is to kill off the free range yeasts, fungus and bacteria. Sanitizing is particularly important for pectin containing fruits, because certain strains of bacteria will break down pectin into methanol. Though it’s VERY unlikely that homemade wine would reach toxic levels of methanol, it is still better to avoid it altogether. So sanitize your wine making equipment!
- Pull your hair back.
- Wash your hands and sing the chorus of “Red, Red Wine” under the running water before touching any of the equipment.
- Wipe down your counters with a sanitation solution.
- Sanitize all of your equipment.
- Never, EVER towel dry your equipment.
A commercial sanitizer is really the only way to sanitize your bottles and equipment. You can usually find a few options at a wine making shop. Just follow the instructions on the package for mixing and rinsing.
Here is a list of common sanitizers:
- Pink chlorine sanitizer powder: Equipment cleaned in chlorine based sanitizers need to be to rinsed well prior to use. Chlorine doesn’t taste good, and it will kill the wine yeasts. Officially, it’s risky to use tap water for rinsing… but I have never had an issue with contamination from my tap. If you use well water you probably want to buy water for rinsing.
- Star San: This is a food grade phosphoric acid that is odorless and flavourless. When diluted for sanitizing, it doesn’t need to be rinsed off. However, you should wear gloves because the acid (pH of 3 or lower) is harsh on your skin. Also, don’t leave your metal and plastic implements soaking in Star San, because they will be harmed by a long exposure to the acid.
- Potassium Bisulfite: Potassium bisulfite can actually be used at several stages throughout the wine making process. It can be used to pre-treat the fruit and prevent contamination from molds and bacteria on the fruit. It can be added during bottling as a preservative. Most importantly, it can be used as a no-rinse sanitizer. The only trick is that potassium bisulfite expires after one year on the shelf. So don’t buy it in bulk.