Winemaking 101 Pt. 6 - Final Touches
A day like today when the temperature struggles to reach O (and fails!), is a good day to add some finishing touches to your bottled wine. These additions certainly aren't necessary, but add a lot of visual appeal and show a sense of pride in your accomplishment.
For earlier posts on winemaking, see these posts
A bottle capsule made of heat shrinking PVC is a simple and cheap way to dress up a wine. They come in a variety of colors and patterns and are only 5-7 cents apiece. There are special electric units made to shrink the capsule but they're a bit pricey; around $180. I've seen recommendations to use a hair dryer, or to steam the capsule over a tea kettle, but for my money the best way is to use an inexpensive heat gun available at any home center for around $20. It takes a little practice to get the capsule to shrink evenly, but you'll have a professional looking bottle after a few trys. If your corks are sticking up a bit from the top of the bottle, using a sharp knife carefully slice off any protruding cork flush with the lip before applying a capsule.
Slip the capsule over the neck of the bottle and apply heat evenly. You may need to pull the capsule down a bit as you shrink it to keep the top fitting flush.
Labeling your wine can be fun, decorative, and informative. It can help you keep track of what you have in stock and what's in each bottle if you don't have your notes handy (you are keeping good notes on your wines, aren't you?), and it makes a gift of homemade wine even more special.
I've always liked the looks of botanical prints, and borrowed a few from some old books that I have to create many of my wine labels. I have a background in the printing industry and desktop publishing which certainly helps, but these days with a compter, digital photographs, inexpensive flatbed scanners, and a little imagination, almost anyone can produce an attractive wine label. Diecut label sheets are available from a number of sources, some with pre-printed artwork. These come with a template file for your computer to help you put text and graphic elements in the right position, just be sure to print out some position checks on plain paper before running it on the real thing.
As I work for a commercial printer, I was able have my labels printed by a digital printing press on "crack 'n peel" self adhesive stock at a very reasonable price. I decided to put the vintage year on a separate label that I can print from my home computer so I can use the front labels for any year's production of that type of wine. I don't label all my bottles, just enough to identify a section in my wine rack, and bottles that I give away as gifts or bring to special occasions.
As the wine is yours, you can call it anything you want. I label most of my wines by the variety, but some have specific names, such as my Ida's Pride; named for my IdaRed apple tree. Some other time, I'll tell you all the story of my "Bedliner Red".