How To Sanitize Wine Making Equipment

Have you ever produced wine that you refused to drink?  The good news is that your not alone.  The bad news is that it is most likely your fault.  The most common problem in poor wine production starts in the kitchen sink.

Regardless if you are making red or white wine, wine making is a process that deserves a lot of time, and patience.  Taking the time to properly clean, then sanitize your equipment is very important and should never be overlooked.  Having the patience to inspect each piece of equipment to ensure that it’s been properly cleaned and sanitized is an important skill.  Patience is also needed throughout the rest of the wine making process to ensure that steps like crushing, fermentation and racking are done properly.

With all of the equipment involved in home wine making you might be asking yourself, “What should I sanitize?”  The easy answer is, “Everything.”  However, the proper answer is, anything that comes into contact with your must or wine; that includes your hands.

Before you sanitize your equipment it is important to clean it.  As noted in our blog on Cleaning and Sanitizing Barrels, cleaning is not the same as sanitizing.  Cleaning only removes visible grit and grime.  Sanitizing your equipment removes bacteria and other harmful microbes.

In order to clean your equipment you can use soap and water.  You should use unscented soap and warm water.  (Scented soap can leave behind residues that can negatively impact your wine.)  After cleaning your equipment and letting it dry you will be ready to sanitize.    The accepted methods of sanitizing include:

  1. Boiling
  2. Iodine
  3. Chorine (unscented)
  4. Citric Acid and Sodium Bisulfite

There are advantages and disadvantages to each.  Boiling requires no chemicals but is time consuming and difficult with large items.  Iodine is inexpensive but can be toxic in high concentrations and stains clothes easily.  Chlorine is a commonly found chemical but is hard to remove from porous material and can ruin wine if not properly rinsed.  Citric Acid and Sodium Bisulfite is also inexpensive but needs careful measuring and can trigger allergic reactions in some people.

Usually some mix of all of these methods will work best.**  For your smaller pieces of equipment, boiling water in a pot will work just fine and for your larger pieces of equipment, a chemical cleaner will be more efficient.  Regardless of which method you choose, don’t skip the sanitizing step.


**Do not, for any reason, mix any of the chemicals with each other!


About americanwinegrape

American Wine Grape Distributors Inc. AKA A. Silvestro Wine Grape, has been in business for over 5 decades. We are wine enthusiasts just like you and want to share in that enjoyment. This is why we are developing a new and exciting platform for growers, restaurants, sommeliers and home winemakers. Our goal is to bring the wine community together and is the driving force behind our new blog.