The Most Important Process in Wine Making? Cleaning and Sanitizing!
That starts with with all the wine making supplies... make sure you clean and sanitize everything that will touch the must or wine.
Including your hands.
If you use a plastic fermenting bucket, check for scratches that can hide bacteria and replace it if needed.
Proper cleaning products for wine making equipment
There are a lot of different cleaners on the market today. With the risk of TCA which causes corked wine
(musty,moldy smell), don't use any cleaner with chlorine in it. Chlorine will also slowly eat away at any stainless steel
equipment you might have.
PBW (Powdered Brewery Wash), B-Brite, and Onestep are three good ones. Follow the instructions and you're good to go.
A note about sterilizing:
Sterilizing isn't necessary for home wine making. In fact it's often confused for sanitizing - which is necessary. The two terms are bandied about as if they're the same thing in some circles.
Sterilization is achieved industrially and commercially in many ways:
- dry heat
- sterile filtration
- chemically, to name a few
Most of the methods are hot enough to melt some plastic equipment. This is fine for hospital settings on stainless steel implements etc., but not for what we're doing here.
Common products used for sanitizing wine equipment
Crushed Campden tablets or potassium metabisulphite crystal/powder is the standard for sanitizing. Star San is another
good one as well.
It's not necessary to rinse afterword with these products. You can if you like though, as long as the fresh water you rinse with is bacteria-free, and the equipment will be used fairly soon after.
Clean and sanitize your wine making supplies before and after you use them. Be diligent, and know that you just eliminated the number one reason for spoiled and off-tasting wine.