How to Remove Wine Labels

How to Remove Wine Labels

Reusing wine bottles is the perfect way to save some money when making your own wine. The problem is how do you remove the labels? I’ve found there are mainly three types of labels, paper, plastic, and plastic coated paper. Paper labels are easy as they’ll come off after only a few minutes in water. Plastic labels peel off but leave a mess (more on that below). The toughest labels to remove are the plastic coated paper labels. They don’t peel off and water can’t penetrate the plastic so you can’t soak it off. After a bit of practice, however, I stumbled upon a method that works really well for paper and plastic coated paper labels. Check out this video to see how I do it. I’ve got a few more tips and safety tips for you after the video so be sure to check out the rest of the post too. Here’s a brief summary of how to remove wine labels made of paper and plastic coated paper: 1. Using a utility knife carefully score the label vertically and horizontally. 2. Soak the bottle in a tub of water for 24 hours. Hint: it helps to put a little water in the wine bottle so that it doesn’t float. This way you can stand them up in the tub. 3. After soaking take  a window scraping blade and scrape the label off. Be sure to push the blade down the bottle away from you. Do this on a table and not your leg. 4. With all of the paper removed scrub off the glue. The glue can be particularly challenging to remove. One way to speed this process along is to use a cleaner such as Goo Gone. HOWEVER, do not allow any bit of this to get inside the bottle! It’s best to spray a rag away from the bottles and then use the rag to wipe down the bottles. Goo Gone in your wine isn’t going to taste good. After using any cleaners be sure to thoroughly wash the outside of the bottle. If you have to remove wine labels from a lot of bottles be sure to wash the rag out once in a while. While the goo removers do break down the glue it has to go somewhere. Your rag soaks it up and after ten labels or so you’ll just be spreading glue around instead of removing it. Removing Plastic Labels There are some labels that don’t have any paper in them. They’re thin sheets of plastic. I’ve found that these labels leave a real mess of glue behind. Your best bet is to peel the label by hand and then either scrape off the glue or use Goo Gone. A Word on Safety It’s not hard to remove wine labels but please do be careful with those utility knives and window scrapers. I don’t want to be a nag but I’d rather see you bottling wine than getting stitches in the hospital. So just two safety points here. 1. Always use a brand new blade. It’s much better to get cut by a brand...

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How to Use a Racking Cane

A racking cane is simply a hard plastic tube used to siphon wine from one container to another. Despite their simplicity they can be a bit tricky to use. The most difficult part of using this device is getting the flow of wine going. While you could suck on the end of the tube like a straw to get the siphon started this is hardly a sanitary way to make wine. I’ll show you the best way I’ve found to use the racking cane. It takes a little practice but once you get the hang of it it’s really easy. Summary To get your siphon going: 0. Sanitize all you equipment. 1. Coil the flexible tubing in a container of clean water. 2. Close the tube clamp or put your finger over the end of the tube to prevent the water from leaving the racking cane. 3. Place the end of the racking cane below the free surface of the water in the pitcher and open the clamp. This will allow water to flow from your pitcher to a waste bucket or sink. 4. Once the racking cane and tube are filled with water close the tube clamp. 5. Place the racking cane into your fermenter or carboy such that the end of the cane is 2 – 3 inches off the bottom. This helps prevent sediment from being siphoned. 6. Place the end of the flexible tube into the waste container and open the clamp. 7. Let the racking cane and tube fill with wine and close the clamp again. 8. Place the end of the flexible tube into the container you are filling and open the clamp. It looks like a lot of steps but it’s really not that bad. This is the most sanitary method I’ve found of filing a racking cane. Remember to always keep the container you’re filling below the free surface level of the wine in the container you’re emptying. If you don’t the flow of wine will stop and you’ll have to start the siphon over again. The Equipment I Use Here are links (affiliate) to the racking equipment I used in the video in case you’d like to work with the same stuff: racking cane (comes with the black tip) 3/8″ Tubing (sold by the foot. I recommend starting with four or five feet. You can always shorten it to meet your needs) small tube clamp Most equipment kits will come with all the racking equipment you’ll need. Auto Siphons They do make auto siphons which are devices designed to help you get the flow of wine going without going through all these steps. I haven’t used one yet and cannot attest to how well they work. However, I have had them recommended to me from more experienced winemakers. I also wanted to start with just the basic equipment and move into fancier equipment as I go. If you’d like to check one out here’s a link (affiliate) where you can read about the auto siphon. I do plan on getting one and will provide a tutorial once I’ve used...

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The Differences Between Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Sterilizing

While this may seem like a trivial distinction to make different wine making resources will use these terms interchangeably and it can get confusing. Cleaning Simply put, cleaning wine making equipment is to remove dirt and debris. This can be done by using warm water and your hands or a sponge to remove the big stuff. You don’t want to use soaps or detergents as these can leave behind a residue of their own. What cleaning does not do is remove any micro-organisms. Cleaning by itself is not enough to ensure that you won’t have any undesirable tastes due to rogue micro-organisms. Sanitizing Wine making requires clean and sanitary tools and vessels (carboys and fermenters). Sanitizing, often done using chemicals, removes most micro-organisms from your equipment. “Most” being the key word. Chemicals such as potassium metabisulfite have been used to accomplish this. However, as today there are much more effective chemicals on the market. Star San is one of the best sanitizing agents available. It’s the one I use and recommend. To sanitize your equipment you merely dip it into a sanitizing solution. That’s it. Many do not require you to rinse the sanitizer off before using it. However, chemicals that are not generally used in making wine should be rinsed off so that you don’t affect the fermentation or the taste of your finished wine. Sterilizing Sterilizing goes one step further than sanitizing. This is a process used to remove all micro-organisms. Nothing survives sterilization. Not yeast, bacteria, or fungus. Generally speaking winemakers do not sterilize their equipment. It takes special machines and or very harsh chemicals to accomplish complete annihilation of all micro-organisms. Chemiclas such as chlorine and hydrogen peroxide can be used to sterilize equipment, however, they must be used at concentrations many times more potent than what’s available to the public. Clean and Sanitized Wine making equipment needs to be clean and sanitized. A quick dip of a dirty hydrometer in a sanitizing solution will sanitize the hydrometer…and the dirt that’s on it. It’s not enough for your equipment to be merely clean either. While some micro-organisms contribute to a wine others turn it into vinegar or worse. How to Effectively Clean and Sanitize Your Wine Making Equipment 1. In warm water use a soft sponge or your hand wipe down all surfaces. Carboys and bottles will require a brush. Do not use dish soap or detergents as these will leave a residue behind. 2. Rinse off your clean equipment to ensure all the dirt has been washed away. 3. Dip equipment into a sanitizing solution such as potassium metabisulfite or Star San (affiliate). 4. Rinse off the sanitizing solution in warm water. 5. Allow your equipment to dry before using. It helps to have a sanitized surface to work on. Setting clean and sanitary equipment down on a dirty surface will undo all the hard work you just put into your equipment. Of course carboys and fermenters may sit on surfaces that have not been sanitized as long as the inside of these vessels remains clean. I recommend cleaning and sanitizing your work surface completely. It’s just good practice. Cleaning and sanitizing equipment is not fun nor is it the sexy...

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Using a Hydrometer for Making Wine

Using a Hydrometer for Making Wine

The hydrometer is the testing instrument you’ll use most when making wine. While it looks simple enough it does take some practice to fully understand both how to use it and what it’s telling you. I’ll show you how to use a hydrometer as well as what the results mean in this three and a half minute video. You’ll get to actually see the hydrometer used to measure the specific gravity of tap water, a sugar solution, as well as a finished wine so you’ll see the differences. After the video I’ll share some additional tips on getting the best reading you can from this extremely useful instrument.   Tips on Using the Hydrometer 1. Give the hydrometer a gentle spin as you lower it down into the liquid you’re measuring. This helps shake loose any bubbles that cling to the hydrometer which will affect the reading you get. 2. If  your wine is still fermenting you’ll need to take the reading as fast as you can before too many bubbles collect on the hydrometer. You could try shaking your sample vigorously in a test jar in order to degas is. 3. Always remove a sample to test fermented wine. While it is possible to take a reading from the primary fermenter you won’t be at a good viewing angle to get an accurate reading. More importantly the longer you leave your wine uncovered to take the reading the more oxygen you’ll be exposing it to. 4. Be aware of the temperature of your wine when you take your specific gravity reading. These instruments are calibrated to take correct readings at only one temperature. For many hydrometers that is 68 degrees (F). Any warmer or cooler and you’ll need to correct your reading to get the true specific gravity. Here’s a link to a specific gravity temperature correction calculator I put together for you. Also, here’s a link to a similar hydrometer used in the video. This is an affiliate link so if you use it you will be helping to support Winemaker’s Academy. If you these tips and the video useful please let me know in the...

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