In the worlds of myth and legend, the Roman god of wine Bacchus (Dionysus to the Greeks) oversaw more than his share of wild feasts and parties. Wine was consumed by the bowlful, laughter reigned and satyrs danced about with the drunken revelers.
Based in these accounts, Bacchus probably left quite a wreck in his wake. Yet, if he was at all up to the beverage he championed, he should have recognized the importance of cleanliness. Winemaking is a delicate process, requiring the careful sterilization of any jugs and hoses that will encounter the wine or juice.
Most home wine kits and recipes suggest using a potassium metabisulphite solution to sterilize the equipment, followed by a rinse of cold water before use. The reason for these measures goes beyond mere germ precautions. Fermentation is a precise biological process in which yeast changes sugar into alcohol. Bacteria or chemical contamination can disrupt this process, resulting in wines that only a sink drain can drink.