Planning ahead for your next batch of wine? One of the best things you can do to prepare is to keep your bottles always-at-the-ready. Whether you get empties from friends and family, by saving your LCBO purchases, or by reusing the ones from previous batches, follow the steps below to keep your bottles clean and ready for your next bottling date.
As soon as you finish a bottle of wine, give it a good rinse to remove any remaining wine and/or sediment. This is the easiest and most important step in preparing your bottles, since leftover sediment is the biggest culprit behind tough-to-clean bottles. For most bottles, rinsing is the only step you really must follow to prevent extra work on bottling day.
If you forgot Step #1 or you’ve got bottles with dried wine or sediment at the bottom, fill them with warm water and let them soak in a sink or tub filled with warm soapy water before rinsing (you may have to repeat this stage a few times, depending on the severity of the remnants). If you have one, you can also use a bristle brush to remove set-in sediment. If you don’t have one, your vintner should be able to loan you one, once you arrive for your bottling.
3. Remove Labels (optional)
Some of our customers re-use labels – especially if they make the same wine varietals every time. If you prefer to change yours, you should remove the old ones before your bottling appointment. To do so, fill the bottles with warm water and submerge them in warm, soapy water to loosen the adhesive and soften the labels. They should peel off easily, but you can always use a scouring pad to scrub off remaining bits.
For really stubborn adhesives, try coating the leftover goo with peanut butter (yes, peanut butter!) once you’ve removed the paper label. Let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse and scour off the remaining adhesive. You can achieve the same results with other oil-based products like WD-40 and Goo Gone (just make sure to wash your bottles well, afterwards, to remove any product residue).
Store your bottles upside down to keep dust and dirt from getting inside. You could also use Beer Savers (reusable silicone lids) to protect clean bottles and to make them easier to identify.
That’s it! Brew-on-premise locations are all equipped with the chemical solutions you need to properly sanitize your bottles before filling them with wine, but taking care of these preparatory steps goes a long way in speeding up your bottling process. If you forget, though, it’s not the end of the world – most locations also have the tools needed to properly clean even the most stubborn issues, and you can always purchase extra bottles if you’d rather start fresh.