How To Siphon And Bottle Wine
Siphoning and Bottling
This is a very simple means of drawing wine from one container to another without disturbing the deposit, as would most certainly happen if the wine was poured instead. Many people shirk this operation because they think that there is some sort of mystery to it. There is no mystery, although it does fascinate many how the wine continues to flow. But what bothers many people is that they somehow break the siphon (stop the flow) and then clumsily stir up the deposit in getting it going again, thereby defeating the whole purpose of the operation.
Without siphoning wines from deposits, there would be no means of obtaining more than 2 ½ ltr clear wine from a 5 ltr jar (½ gall per gall). This would mean that the rest would have to be put into a suitably sized jar and allowed to clear. Even then you would be able to pour only about half of it before the sediment started to come over. Siphoning is infinitely more satisfactory because you are able to remove all but 5 mm or so (¼ in) of wine from ajar without disturbing the deposit in any way.
Where most people go wrong when siphoning is that they forget that the tops of the bottles or jar to be filled must be on a lower level than the bottom of the jar to be emptied. It is best then to put the full jar on a table and the empties on the floor or a stool.
If the jar to be emptied is on the same level as the empties, nothing would happen and if the tops of the empties were halfway up the level of the full jar the full jar would only half empty because the levels become equal.
Proper siphon pumps may be had at a price. These incorporate a squeeze bulb to start the flow, but I have found that the tubing used in these is of too large a bore and that it always rests in the wine above the deposit. Such an arrangement can be regulated so that the tube goes no nearer than 2.5 cm (1 in) or so above the deposit. But the tube is so wide a bore and the suction is therefore so great that deposits are often drawn over, thereby defeating the whole purpose of the operation. By all means arrange the tube 5 cm (2 in) above the deposit, but it means that you must leave 5 cm (2 in) of wine behind.
So the best plan is to make a siphon arrangement for yourself. Wine supply shops stock your needs. And these merely consist of a length of glass tubing with the last 2.5 cm (1 in) of one end turned up and a metre or. So of non-toxic clear polythene tubing. An additional item is a small ebonite tap to fit to the other end of the tube. Now all you have to do is to take one end of the polythene tubing, immerse about 5 cm (2 in) of one end in hot water for a minute-or two and then while it is hot manipulate it over the straight end of the glass tube so
that about 2.5 cm (1 in) goes on. As it cools it takes on a mighty grip and will not slide off. The little tap, if you can get one, is fitted to the other end of the polythene tubing and your siphon is.complete. If you cannot buy a tap as shown in the illustration you can do without it.
With this arrangement, all you have to do is to put the full jar of wine on a table and the bottles on the floor or a stool. Lower the upturned end of the glass tubing carefully into the jar so that it comes to rest against the bottom inside edge with the U bend resting on the bottom of the jar. You will see that the open end of the glass tube is above the deposit, and because the suction will not be above, as would be the case with a tube hovering over the deposit, the deposit cannot be drawn into the tube, unless you disturb it by stirring it up accidentally. The next step is to hold the tube firmly at the neck of the jar, take the other end of the plastic tube, whether a tap is fitted or not, and suck it gently until the wine reaches your lips. When this happens, pinch the tube tightly to stop the flow (or turn off the tap), lower this end in the first bottle and let the wine flow. As the bottle fills into the neck, squeeze the tube to slow up the flow.
When the wine is one-third way into the neck stop the flow altogether, put the tube in the next bottle and allow the wine to flow again. As the jar empties to quarter full, slowly tilt it towards the upturned end of the glass tube so that all the wine is drawn off, being careful to stop the flow if the deposit begins to move. The best way to do this is to return the jar to upright so that the upturned end rises above the last centimetre of wine.
Actually, if the deposit is as firm as it should be, all but a small glassful of wine should be drawn over. If you are new to siphoning, it might be wise to get a second pair of hands to hold the tube at the neck of the jar and to tilt the jar when it is nearly empty. Do bear in mind that you will need six standard British wine bottles, or seven (perhaps eight) long-necked shoulderless-type continental wine bottles to 5 ltr (1 gall) of wine. So have enough bottles ready in position and have your corks ready too. There is nothing worse than finding you are short of something at this stage of the operation.
When you have finished bottling and corking your wine fit a plastic seal. Then use one of the many attractive labels available today, but do write on the label before you stick it on the bottle. All you need to write is the name of the wine, the month and year of making and whether it is sweet, medium or dry. If it is fortified with spirit you can put a small ‘F’ in the corner or a `P’ if it is preserved with Campden tablets. This is just for your reference.