When making wine it is extremely important to follow good cleaning and sanitizing practices. General cleaning removes any organic materials from the equipment but it is still important to eliminate any bacteria, yeasts, or other spoilage microbes from your equipment before using it. This is where sanitizing comes in handy. Racking canes, bottles, carboys and other equipment should be always go through a quick sanitizing step before introducing wine to them. Even if they seem otherwise perfectly clean, there could be a few bad bacteria that could later become a problem. Below is an easy recipe to get you on your way with sanitizing.
Easy Wine Sanitizer:
Mix thoroughly. If using extensively, be sure to have proper ventilation because the potassium metabisulfite in high concentrations is a strong respiratory irritant. If you have ever smelled potassium metabisulfite, you will be familiar with the strong burnt match aroma.
If using on stainless steel, be sure to rinse off afterwards because the sulfite and acid combination can create rust and pitting on lower grades like 304. 316 stainless has a much higher resistance to rust.
The acid in this mix can be substituted for acid blend, or tartaric acid if that is what you have around in your wine cellar. Potassium metabisulfite is much more effective when mixed with an acid to bring the pH of your solution down. Other home brewed sanitizers call for as much as eight teaspoons of potassium metabisulfite per gallon of water but without any acid, which is also effective but the fumes from a few spritzes will clear out a room. I much prefer the k-meta and acid version.
This recipe works great and can be kept in a spray bottle or jug for easy access when you need it. Because it contains potassium metabisulfite, it can also help prevent oxidation when checking in on your wines. A quick spray on the bung and opening of the carboy can help scavenge any oxygen that you may have introduced by removing the airlock. Another advantage is that it can give your wines a couple ppm of SO2 boost if used in bottles before bottling. This can help to offset the air introduced in the bottling process.
If you have any other homemade cleaning or sanitizing solutions, please share in the comments below.
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