The basic essential hardware for making wine kits at home includes the parts needed to get the wine fermented and bottled. However, there are many low-cost accessories that, while not totally necessary, will make the job easier. The home vintner tends to add one or two of these each year (or with each new wine kit).
Bottling Accessories for Wine Making
- Bottle Brush – A skinny long-handled brush for cleaning bottles (especially useful for reused bottles). A recommended accessory.
- Bottle Jet – Attached to a tap spigot, this makes it much easier to clean bottles by shooting a high-pressure jet of water into the bottle. Put the bottle over the jet and push for the spray; lift the bottle up a little and the spray shuts off automatically. Available for one and two bottles at a time.
- Bottle Drying Rack (Bottle Tree) – Stores bottles inverted while they drain. Handy but far from essential; a dishwasher rack works fine.
- Racking Clip – Designed to hold a racking rod steady so as not to disturb sediment. A one-hole stopper will work just as well for half the cost.
- Siphon Valve – A tubing clamp or pressure valve helps cut off the flow of wine while maintaining siphon during bottling. Essential accessory (probably included in basic set).
Other Accessories for Making Wine Kits
- Carboy Brush – A larger version of the bottle brush, bushier and with a longer handle for cleaning out carboys.
- Heating Belt – An inexpensive device for keeping the fermenting must at the right temperature in plastic containers. The short electrical cord on some heat belts means that an extension cord might be required.
- Carboy Shield – A silver foil shield to moderate the temperature of a glass carboy.
- Second Carboy – A basic equipment set for wine-making generally includes only one carboy. A second carboy, while not absolutely necessary, is quite handy. For doing two wine kits at once (say, a 6 week and a 4 week kit) it is essential.
- Carboy Handle – A recommended accessory for a glass carboy; it makes the handling the heavy glass container and its contents much simpler and safer. Not necessary for the lighter plastic carboys, which often have handles moulded in.
- Wine Thief/Sample Thief – Since a siphon tube is sufficient for drawing samples of a developing wine to test with the hydrometer, a sample thief is not always included in a set of basic wine-making equipment. But the thief is so much simpler and faster, it is worth getting one. A highly recommended accessory.
A basic wine making equipment set can start as low as $80 USD. Higher-priced sets will include more accessories to make the job easier. The home vintner can keep initial costs down by adding accessories gradually as needed or desired.