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winemaker81

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This allows some of the finer lees into the secondary, but leaves all the really heavy gross less behind. I only lose about a litre that way.
That sounds about right. Sounds like you are as miserly as I am with my wine. ;)

The first racking, I expect to lose volume to sediment. As I've said in previous posts, I do not worry much about transferring some sediment. Nor do I worry at the second racking -- fermentation is complete, solids WILL drop.

After that?

When I racked a barrel in March, I poured the sludge into a 1.5 liter bottle, put it in the fridge for a week. The sediment compacted to about 2", so I recovered most of the 1.5 liters. I poured it off the sediment and kept it refrigerated until the barrel needed topping. Repeat that a few times and it adds up to significant loss in a small batch.

The techniques I was taught (many moons ago) were very wasteful of wine. I 'spose if you're making hundreds of gallons of wine, a few liters is trivial.

But I'm a VERY cheap SOB, so (to quote Queen) I want it all! I racked the barrel Saturday, putting 400 ml sludge into a bottle, which is in the fridge. The lees are compacted to 1/4", so I'll pour that off and will top the barrel in 3 weeks ........

Many moons ago a friend bulk aged his wines for 12 months, and racked them each and every month. He threw out the wine in the test jar (checked SG every time) because it was contaminated, and at bottling time he complained that he lost 25% of his initial volume.

<face palm>
 

KCCam

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I poured the sludge into a 1.5 liter bottle, put it in the fridge for a week.
The first time I tried that, I think I was comparing fining agents between 2 batches. I looked at the guck that looked like mud, and thought, "I wonder if you could get 10 or 20% back from that." It blew me away that it was more like 80 or 90%.

But I'm a VERY cheap SOB,
I don't consider it being cheap. I consider it respectful. Billions of tiny little organisms gave their lives to turn grapes, berries, etc., into something much more interesting. Who am I to discard their hard work?!
 

winemaker81

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@jinjo4444, we've strayed a bit from your original questions. I hope the extra chit chat is giving you ideas for handling your future wines.

I looked at the guck that looked like mud, and thought, "I wonder if you could get 10 or 20% back from that." It blew me away that it was more like 80 or 90%.
It's amazing what can be recovered.

I have a 3" wedge, a wooden desk nameplate from an old employer. When racking carboys, I put the wedge under one edge to tilt it. I start holding the racking tube high up in the wine, lowering it as I go. At the end I may manually tilt the carboy more, carefully lowering the capped end of the tube until I barely see sediment moving, then I stop. This eliminates a lot of waste, even without pouring the sludge off.

I've thought of building a special counter for carboys, where the counter is at a 20 or 25 degree angle. I'd screw a board on the edge so the carboys could not slide off, like this:

Untitled.jpg

During fermentation and clearing, I'd give each carboy a sharp 1/4 turn each day to dislodge sediment clinging to the sides, AND to get the sediment to drop to the lowest point. My idea is that it would help even further with reducing waste and I wouldn't risk disturbing the sediment by tilting the carboy at racking time.

I'm also looking for tall, narrow 1.5 liter and 750 ml clear bottles to use for settling the sludge. Currently I'm using 1.5 liter clear Bordeaux style bottles, which work. Narrower means I have less surface are to deal with when pouring the wine off the sludge.
 

familynerone

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Thanks so much for all your help!! It’s bottled now and I did a taste test and it actually seems really good! Nice and clear too.

so in the meantime I started a batch of pinot grigio on that just finished fermenting. Og was 1.084 and I’m down to 1.000 so I’m reading the instructions in this kit and I’m so confused AGAIN. For the transfer from the primary to the carboy it states that the transfer leaving sediment behind “will leave a space in the carboy. Do not top up the carboy at this time”.

it actually doesn’t say to top it up until the clearing stage. Can this be right? I thought leaving that much space in the carboy could ruin the wine because of oxygen?View attachment 64619View attachment 64619
Hi there! I've been doing a lot of kits so I may be able to answer this.
Simpler kits will have you transfer to the carboy after fermentation is complete. This is when you want to top up to eliminate too much head space in the carboy. This is also when they usually have you do the degassing (before topping up) and add clearing agents.
Other kits will have you transfer before fermentation is complete. I'm working on a cabernet right now that will have me transfer for "secondary" fermentation, where I will add oak, for example. (Keep in mind - that really doesn't mean a second fermentation, it is a second container but there is only one true fermentation going on). I will be using another primary fermenting vessel for this and not going directly into a glass carboy yet.
It sounds like your kit might be having you transfer to get the must off any sediment, but continuing fermentation. Does it state what S.G. you're shooting for before stabilizing/clearing? (I suppose it is possible that the intent is for the wine to be stabilized at that level (?) - I have heard that some sweeter wines do this, though most kits say to ferment to at or below 0.998).
 

familynerone

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@jinjo4444, I forgot to say congratulations! You are now a fully fledged wine maker!

Now comes the truly hard part .... making that first batch of wine last more than a year! ;)

My recommendation to all beginners is to wait 3 months and open a bottle. Write down your impressions. Then open a bottle every 2 or 3 months, recording your impressions each time you taste. Do not look at your previous notes.

At the end of 1 year post-bottling, read through your notes, first to last. This will help you understand the aging process, and (hopefully) give you incentive to age future wines longer, as they improve with time. It will make sense when a more experienced wine maker recommends aging that wine a year before opening a bottle.
This is good advice, with the caveat that many kit wines have added instructions if you intend to age a year or more (the addition of extra potassium metabisulfite, for example). Also, fruit wine kits ("mist" or "cooler" style) are meant to be consumed fairly young and I would not keep those around more than a couple of years, based on the experiences other wine-makers in my family have had with these (though that never seems to be a problem as they generally don't last that long)!. Being fairly new to this in our own household we bought several dozen 375mL size bottles and are using those as our taste-tests for several varieties, as the suggestion above indicated. Wait several months then open one a month or one every few months, and jot down your tasting notes.
 

winemaker81

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The "fun wine" kits, if made according to directions, have a short shelf life as the ABV is typically around 7%. When I make them, I chaptalize up to 10% to 11%, and had some last 7 years. That was when the last 2 bottles were consumed -- they tasted great at that point.

Using smaller bottles is a good idea.
 

jinjo4444

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So I'm on my 3rd batch now and ran into something weird on this pinot grigio batch. I put the wine in the primary fermenter and starting SG was 1.086 .

I usually check it about 8 days in for gravity but I was so busy with work that I didn't check it until 12 days in. Here's what's weird. The SG was 0.992, which is way too low for 12 days in the primary, no? I removed the hydrometer several times and put it back in, spinning it each time so no bubbles, and it read the same every time.

I racked it into the carboy on Friday night and not one bubble has come out of it since. I'm so confused lol. Could it have fermented that much that fast? What the??
 

sour_grapes

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So I'm on my 3rd batch now and ran into something weird on this pinot grigio batch. I put the wine in the primary fermenter and starting SG was 1.086 .

I usually check it about 8 days in for gravity but I was so busy with work that I didn't check it until 12 days in. Here's what's weird. The SG was 0.992, which is way too low for 12 days in the primary, no? I removed the hydrometer several times and put it back in, spinning it each time so no bubbles, and it read the same every time.

I racked it into the carboy on Friday night and not one bubble has come out of it since. I'm so confused lol. Could it have fermented that much that fast? What the??
Fermenting to dry within 12 days is not AT ALL unexpected.
 

Lukaswine

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Best is to rack to a clean carboy, leaving as much sediment as possible behind. Make sure you have the sediment tip on your racking cane. Slowly lower it as the carboy empties, so as not to disturb the sediment. With the amount you have shown you should be able to gently rest it on the bottom before the level drops that low. Watch for movement of the sediment towards the racking cane, and pull it up before any gets in there. Now you have a clear carboy you don't have to worry about jostling or bumping as you bottle. I would give it another couple of days in the clean carboy to make sure it is, in fact, finished dropping sediment. Personally, I dump the rest into a quart mason jar to settle out over the next week or two and get a couple glasses of clear wine as a reward.
Can you clear into the fermenting bucket then back into clean carboy then bottle? I don’t have an extras carboy .
 

BernardSmith

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Absolutely, yes. You are simply using that bucket as a bottling bucket and as long as it is clean and sanitized it makes a perfectly good bottling bucket. The one thing that would /could make that bucket a tiny bit better would be if it had a spigot to which you could attach a hose and bottling wand. Then you would not need three hands to bottle. (some way to keep the bottle you are filling upright is another useful tool... I use a PVC pipe fitting that I have screwed to a small plank of wood. The wand cannot then tip over the bottle...
 

BernardSmith

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I meant to say .. can you rack into the bucket then into a clean carboy
But why rack twice in order to bottle. Rack from the carboy into the bucket leaving behind all the lees and enabling you to back sweeten (if you have previously stabilized and confirmed that the gravity is rock solid stable ) without any concern that you are disturbing the lees when stirring the sweetener so that it is fully dispersed in the wine you are about to bottle
 

winemaker81

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I agree with @BernardSmith, there's no need to rack multiple times. By the time I'm ready to bottle, there is no lees in the carboy so I can bottle from the carboy without racking, although stirring in the final dose of K-meta is difficult.
 

Lukaswine

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Absolutely, yes. You are simply using that bucket as a bottling bucket and as long as it is clean and sanitized it makes a perfectly good bottling bucket. The one thing that would /could make that bucket a tiny bit better would be if it had a spigot to which you could attach a hose and bottling wand. Then you would not need three hands to bottle. (some way to keep the bottle you are filling upright is another useful tool... I use a PVC pipe fitting that I have screwed to a small plank of wood. The wand cannot then tip over the bottle...
I agree with @BernardSmith, there's no need to rack multiple times. By the time I'm ready to bottle, there is no lees in the carboy so I can bottle from the carboy without racking, although stirring in the final dose of K-meta is difficult.
I have used two buckets in the past with spigots and both failed me the last time I made wine. They leaked! So, I bought something else I can’t recall from Label Peelers to fill bottles. I haven’t used it yet.
Do I put the K-meta into the carboy prior to racking or in the bucket prior to bottling.
I made kit wine before but after being on the forum I’ve become less confident !😄
 

Lukaswine

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Agreed.
Thanks so much for all your help!! It’s bottled now and I did a taste test and it actually seems really good! Nice and clear too.

so in the meantime I started a batch of pinot grigio on that just finished fermenting. Og was 1.084 and I’m down to 1.000 so I’m reading the instructions in this kit and I’m so confused AGAIN. For the transfer from the primary to the carboy it states that the transfer leaving sediment behind “will leave a space in the carboy. Do not top up the carboy at this time”.

it actually doesn’t say to top it up until the clearing stage. Can this be right? I thought leaving that much space in the carboy could ruin the wine because of oxygen?View attachment 64619View attachment 64619
I like the label. Did you design it?
 

Lukaswine

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Welcome to WMT.

You will find that it makes your life A LOT easier if you have a siphon. Most of us use an "autosiphon" like the one pictured below. If you cannot get that in time, you could get away with a simple piece of vinyl tubing if you are careful.

In a kit, the main reason to have the initial specific gravity is to get the ABV, as you say. Just make sure you have one when you are trying to judge completion.



I have not used this siphon yet, but I have it for my next batch in a few weeks.
 

winemaker81

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Do I put the K-meta into the carboy prior to racking or in the bucket prior to bottling.
I usually start the siphon, then add the K-meta to the destination container as I've had it clump when I put K-meta in the container first. It doesn't matter which container you put the K-meta in as long as it is distributed in the wine.

I made kit wine before but after being on the forum I’ve become less confident !
Ahhh! The confidence of ignorance! ;)

Your world has expanded. But don't worry too much ... things will make sense with time and practice.
 
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