I have made several batches of wine from kits and a few batches of mead. One of the things that must be done after primary fermentation is to test the specific gravity. The wine kits I have used typically have a set of instructions like this: test the SG every day starting on day X until the SG reaches Y.

The way I have been doing this is to make a gallon batch of Iodophor solution, sanitize my wine thief and hydrometer, steal some wine/mead, place the hydrometer into the wine thief, get a reading, and put all the wine/mead back into the fermentation vessel. I realize that I can keep the Iodophor solution around for a few days (or until the color dissipates), but it still seem unnecessary when the amount of alcohol in wine/mead is going to be at least 10%.

I watched a documentary (I can't find a link to it now) several years ago about a winery and remember seeing this guy take a wine thief off a table and stick it into a barrel of wine. Now perhaps the scene simply didn't include the gentlemen sanitizing his wine thief, but it does beg the question: do I really need to sanitize my wine thief after primary fermentation is basically complete?

  • 1
    Forgive my puzzlement, but I can't help wondering why you would even ask. When in doubt, don't think twice: sanitize for all you're worth.
    – Glasseyed
    Commented Jul 19, 2014 at 3:14
  • That is an excellent point. I tend to over do things, especially when it comes to home brewing, so I figured I would ask and see what other folks were doing.
    – Donovan R
    Commented Jul 19, 2014 at 17:34

4 Answers 4


There is some risk of infection by beer-dwelling organisms, especially souring bacteria. Sanitation is less critical after primary, but if you want to be certain, clean utensils with something food-safe like Star San.

  • I am curious, are you implying that Iodophor isn't food safe or are you just expressing your preference for Star San?
    – Donovan R
    Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 15:44
  • just a preference - I don't know if Iodophor is a good thing to drink bits of. Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 18:05

I always wash my test equipment like I wash any other kitchen utensils.


I have been making wine for many years and recently beer. I always sanitize anything that may come in contact with the wine or beer at any point in the process. Contamination is something cannot be undone, you are better safe than sorry.


When making beer, wine, or mead, there is nothing that you can't not sanitize. It takes all of 5-10 minutes to stir up a batch of One-Step or Star San and sanitize your equipment, and it pretty greatly reduces your chances of contamination (assuming proper handling of the equipment).

While the alcohol content should kill bacteria, sanitizer will.

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