I am getting ready to start my first batch of wine from concentrate. I am a little confused about the sanitizing process for large pieces of equipment. The directions say to dissolve so much sanitizing stuff to one gallon of water. Does this mean a gallon will do the job? With a 6 gallon tuft tank or a 6 gallon glass carboy, for example, do you pour the gallon in the container and slosh it around? If so for how long? Directions say to soak corks from 5 to 10 minutes. Small items such as hydrometers can be submerged, but I am a little vague on doing the big items and some of the other details?
Thanks for the great question… It is important to understand that all the equipment that comes into contact with the wine should be sanitized. This includes wine making equipment you may have gotten from us, as well as any stirring spoons, hoses and pans you may be using from around the house.
Before sanitizing you need to make sure that all items are soapy clean and void of organic grime from previous uses. This process is no different than washing dishes. After everything is soap-clean, then it can be sanitized.
These three items: sodium metabisulfite, potassium metabisulfite, and Campden tablets can all be used in the same way. Mixed with water they make a very good sulfite sanitizer. Just use one teaspoon per gallon, or in the case of the Campden tablets, use 16 tablets per gallon.
Not only does direct contact with these solutions sanitize, but their vapor will sanitize as well. What I will typically do is put all my hoses, gravity hydrometer, rubber stoppers and other smaller wine making products in my plastic fermenter bucket. Then pour in 2″ or 3″ of the solution. Place the lid over the top and let it sit for about 20 or 30 minutes. Longer times do not hurt. This will sanitize your smaller equipment as well as the inside of your plastic fermenter.
You can sanitize the inside of glass jugs and wine bottles in the same way. Just pour in an inch or two of the sulfite solution, and let stand for 20 or 30 minutes. Lightly drain the jugs or bottles, and they are ready to be filled with wine.
With larger wine making products that will not fit in the fermenter, a contact sanitizer such as our CleanPro SDH or One Step No-Rinse Cleanser should be used. Unlike the sulfite solutions, these sanitizers require actual contact time. You can use your kitchen sink, however it should be soap-clean and sanitized first. To sanitize just fill the sink with a gallon of the sanitizing solution. Use this solution, liberally, with a clean rag to wipe down all the sink’s surfaces and any counter-top areas you plan on using.
Now you are ready to sanitize your wine making equipment. Drain the sink and mix up a fresh batch of sanitizer in the sink, again use a clean rag to wipe down the equipment. Keep submerging different parts of the equipment while wiping down exposed parts with the rag. Do this for 15 to 20 minutes and it will be ready for use.
Happy Wine Making,
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.