I recently bottled some Cru Select White Chocolate Port I had aging in the cellar and I thought I would take the opportunity to describe my bottling process.
First, make sure your wine is done! I usually leave my wine bulk age in carboys for at least 6 months. This gives the wine time to finish, clear and out gas. These conditions are important for a good bottle of wine. If wine is bottled cloudy it will clear in the bottle and leave sediment in your bottles. If you bottle before the wine is finished fermenting, it will pop the corks out of the bottle and wine will be on the floor! ( Elderberry wine is hard to remove from carpet!) If wine is bottled before it has out gassed, there will be off smells in the wine. Make sure the wine is finished fermenting, clear, and smells good before bottling.
So the wine is done, the next thing to do is clean and sanitize your bottles. I use a sulfite solution to clean my bottles, but you can also use B-Bright or Star-San. I make my sulfite solution with 1 once of Potassium Meta-bi sulfite in 1 gallon of water. (This mixture will smell of sulfur, so don’t take a big whiff.) I fill each bottle with this solution, leave it sit for a couple of minuets, then pour it into another bottle. You can reuse this solution as long as it looks clean and smells like sulfur.
While I am sanitizing my bottles, I have my corks soaking in some water. 1 gallon of wine will fill 5 of the standard 750ml wine bottles, so I soak 5 corks for each gallon of wine. Make sure all the corks are covered with water. I soak mine in a Tupperware bowl with the lid on to keep the corks from floating.
Next I rack the wine into the wine bottles. I use an auto-siphon and bottle filler, but all you really need is a piece of hose that is only used for racking wine.
After he wine bottles are filled, I cork the bottles. I have a hand corker, and I place the wet corks into the corker, place the corker on the bottle and push the corks into the wine bottle with the hand corker.
I leave the bottles stand upright for three days so the corks dry and seal the bottle. After that, I lay my wine bottles on their side in the cellar. That is all there is to bottling wine!