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Sanitation Sanity: How often should wine equipment be sanitized?


Dave Smith — via email asks,

I just have a brief question regarding wine sanitation. How often should wine equipment be sanitized? If there is need for continuous sanitation, at which point in the process can I sanitize? Also, are certain products preferable to others for certain pieces of equipment?

It is absolutely critical to have good winery sanitation as dirty equipment does nothing but invite bad-guy bacteria and unwanted yeast beasties to munch on our wine. However — there is a point of diminishing returns where you can sanitize too much. I have seen some home winemakers get way too crazy with the microbe-killing, so let me share information with you that’ll allow you to make sanitizing decisions appropriate for your unique situation. First of all, let me elaborate on three important vocabulary words we’ll use a lot when talking about getting our equipment scrubbed up and ready for good, clean winemaking. Winemakers often use the terms cleaning, sanitizing and sterilizing interchangeably, which is a mistake. All three of these terms mean very different things. Cleaning refers to the physical removal of visible soil, grunge, muck and mung. Usually done with scrub brushes, squeegees or a clean towel, cleaning often is just as simple as scrubbing down the grape reception hopper or sweeping the floor. Sanitizing means that you’re doing something to a surface or piece of equipment to
Response by Alison Crowe.