When you make your own wine, you will need to bottle it for storage. The barrier between the wine and air that could contaminate it is the cork. Getting the cork into the bottle tightly is imperative to preserving your wine. You will notice that your corks are too hard to squeeze into the bottle when you first get them, so you will need to soften them. Sanitizing the corks will also help to kill any bacteria that could taint your wine.
Fill up your pot 1/4 to 1/2 of the way with water.
Place the pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil over high heat, uncovered.
Remove the pot of boiling water from the heat and drop in the corks. This will both soften the corks through steaming and the boiling water will sanitize the corks.
Place the cover on the pot and let the corks sit in the water until they are pliable and give to gentle pressure. The time could range between 3 and 15 minutes depending upon the number and size of the corks you are steaming.
Remove the corks and pat dry before inserting into your wine bottles.
Do not boil the corks in water or soak them longer than the prescribed time. This would break down the cork material and result in weakness in the cork, causing leaks or pieces of cork to break off into the wine.