Other How do you rack down?

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leftiesrule

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Having done several 6 gallon wine kits so far, each time topping up to 6+ gallons, I'd like to try racking down for this latest forte finer wine kit. In my head I've got a plan that seems ok but I'm hoping to hear how others rack down, specifically how you treat the smaller containers over time.

Here's my plan:

After primary fermentation (2 weeks after pitching yeast) I'll rack into a 6 gallon carboy using vacuum pump, add 1/4 tsp kmeta and fining agents, and mix well. I'm guessing I'll have about 5.75 gallons at this point. I could use a headspace eliminator for a week or less while any gross lees settle out but probably rack immediately to a 5 gallon carboy and a mix of 750ml/1000ml swingtop glass growlers. I'll add the oak cubes to the 5 gallon carboy.

Once I see a good amount of compacted lees, at least 1 month but not longer than 3 months, I'll rack from each container (5 gallon carboy and growlers) into a 6 gallon carboy and add 1/4 tsp kmeta and combine well. From the 6 gallon carboy I'll immediately rack into a clean 5 gallon carboy and some clean 750ml/1000ml swingtop growlers.

I'll continue vacuum racking every 3 months until it's time to bottle. Each time first into a 6 gallon carboy, add 1/4 tsp kmeta, then back to 5 gallon + 750ml/1000ml swingtop growlers.

My question is whether racking first into a 6 gallon carboy is overkill and a possible oxidation point. My thought was it's the best way to ensure all additions get distributed evenly. So I guess I'm wondering what y'all do with those smaller containers every 3 months especially if you're only working on a single kit at a time. Also when moving wine from the small containers are you siphoning or just pouring from them?

As for the growlers, I could always use wine bottles with airlocks if that is better for protection from oxidation.

Any tweaks or thoughts you might have would be welcomed and appreciated!

-Adam
 

Ohio Bob

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Excess headspace is ok while in primary fermentation. Once the SG stabilizes it’s better to rack into a carboy with little headspace. My preference is to top off with additional wine rather than have a mixed group of say 3g, 2x1g, etc. but I never dump any excess so I have 1g jugs, 1/2g jugs, even wine bottles. The 1g jugs I can get an auto siphon into but the smaller containers I just pour off, trying to limit any sediment.
 

Jovimaple

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I use the bottling attachment on my AIO vacuum pump to "bottle" anything that doesn't fit into one of my smaller carboys. A universal bung turned upside down fits on the top of the bottle so I can use an airlock on the smaller bottles.

I would be hesitant to use swing top bottles and jars until several months have gone by in case it's still offgassing.

Edit to add unless you put the containers without airlocks into the fridge. I do that sometimes with small amounts in mason jars, as you can see from the photo.
 

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leftiesrule

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I use the bottling attachment on my AIO vacuum pump to "bottle" anything that doesn't fit into one of my smaller carboys. A universal bung turned upside down fits on the top of the bottle so I can use an airlock on the smaller bottles.

I would be hesitant to use swing top bottles and jars until several months have gone by in case it's still offgassing.

Edit to add unless you put the containers without airlocks into the fridge. I do that sometimes with small amounts in mason jars, as you can see from the photo.
I've also got the AIO vacuum pump! I'm not too worried about the glass growlers since they are meant to hold carbonated beverages but certainly something to keep in mind.

What I'm curious about is how everybody manages the smaller containers with respect to sulfite additions and sediment.

Maybe I'm overthinking this 🤷‍♂️
 
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What I'm curious about is how everybody manages the smaller containers with respect to sulfite additions and sediment.
While the wine is outgassing, it's safe to have some headspace. Wine kits that are set to bottle in 8 weeks allow roughly 6 weeks of headspace with no issue, so that's the maximum in my estimation, although I personally am not comfortable with that long.

My recommendation is to follow the FWK procedure -- ferment to 1.010, then seal the fermenter with airlock. Rack on Day 14 into a 23 liter carboy, adding K-meta and K&C (Kieselsol & Chitosan). Wait 2 weeks and rack off the sediment; return to the carboy with K-meta. Top with a compatible wine and bulk age.

I do similar for fruit, juice, and grape wines -- Get the wine to drop the gross lees and a lot of the fine lees in 1 larger container, then rack, add K-meta, and rack back into whatever containers are required.

For kits this method eliminates all containers except the 23 liter carboy. If you're making fruit wines, white juice, or grapes? I agree with @Ohio Bob -- there will be small containers. I have a drawer full of airlocks and drilled stoppers from #3 up to #10. Lots of #3's, which fit wine bottles (125 ml up to 1.5 liter).

Regarding racking -- the old rule was to rack every 3 months. I challenge that -- every action performed should produce a positive effect. If the wine has no sediment or a light layer of fine lees, there is no value in racking -- the wine is being exposed to air and you are losing some volume, but are not producing a benefit. So don't rack. You can add K-meta without racking.

To add K-meta to small amounts of wine, dissolve 1/4 tsp K-meta in 5 or 6 Tbsp warm water. You can add 1 Tbsp of this mixture to 1 gallon / 4 liter jugs to get the right amount of K-meta. If you have smaller bottles divide it.

I don't know the math off the top of my head, but medical syringes for medicines are great. Figure out how many ml = 1 Tbsp of solution, and divide that by 5 to get the ml to add to a 750 ml bottle.

I'm still struggling to think in metric, as it's a lot easier in the long run. But it's not happening today ....
 

VinesnBines

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I'm with Bryan on the less racking. I've racked kits from primary to bulk aging and left for up to five or six months without another racking . I'll rack about a week before bottling for everything to settle out once more and then bottle. I keep them topped up with Kmeta and have no off tastes. I think too much racking is a risk.

I think I actually have a couple wines that are going longer in bulk this fall until I can get back in shape for racking and bottling.
 

suzyq2

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While the wine is outgassing, it's safe to have some headspace. Wine kits that are set to bottle in 8 weeks allow roughly 6 weeks of headspace with no issue, so that's the maximum in my estimation, although I personally am not comfortable with that long.

My recommendation is to follow the FWK procedure -- ferment to 1.010, then seal the fermenter with airlock. Rack on Day 14 into a 23 liter carboy, adding K-meta and K&C (Kieselsol & Chitosan). Wait 2 weeks and rack off the sediment; return to the carboy with K-meta. Top with a compatible wine and bulk age.

I do similar for fruit, juice, and grape wines -- Get the wine to drop the gross lees and a lot of the fine lees in 1 larger container, then rack, add K-meta, and rack back into whatever containers are required.

For kits this method eliminates all containers except the 23 liter carboy. If you're making fruit wines, white juice, or grapes? I agree with @Ohio Bob -- there will be small containers. I have a drawer full of airlocks and drilled stoppers from #3 up to #10. Lots of #3's, which fit wine bottles (125 ml up to 1.5 liter).

Regarding racking -- the old rule was to rack every 3 months. I challenge that -- every action performed should produce a positive effect. If the wine has no sediment or a light layer of fine lees, there is no value in racking -- the wine is being exposed to air and you are losing some volume, but are not producing a benefit. So don't rack. You can add K-meta without racking.

To add K-meta to small amounts of wine, dissolve 1/4 tsp K-meta in 5 or 6 Tbsp warm water. You can add 1 Tbsp of this mixture to 1 gallon / 4 liter jugs to get the right amount of K-meta. If you have smaller bottles divide it.

I don't know the math off the top of my head, but medical syringes for medicines are great. Figure out how many ml = 1 Tbsp of solution, and divide that by 5 to get the ml to add to a 750 ml bottle.

I'm still struggling to think in metric, as it's a lot easier in the long run. But it's not happening today ....
This was very helpful. Thank you. How do you rack out of smaller bottles? I have trouble getting a good syphon with a 1 gallon let alone a mason jar.
 
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This was very helpful. Thank you. How do you rack out of smaller bottles? I have trouble getting a good syphon with a 1 gallon let alone a mason jar.
I've use an auto-siphon for years, as it makes establishing the siphon easy. Last spring I purchased the gallon jug size mini-unit, as it's easier to use for small containers.

Note that these do not work in wine bottles, as the siphon diameter is too large. The interior stem of an auto-siphon can be used, in which case the "auto" part doesn't work. However, if you follow my process outline, by the time you need to eliminate headspace, the wine has mostly or completely cleared.

Here is one example:

 

leftiesrule

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I blanket w/ argon then pull a vacuum with the AIO pump. Then I don't worry about headspace at all.

How long do you leave the headspace eliminator on for and do you pull a vaccum on a regular basis?

I transferred from primary to a 6 gallon carboy a few days ago, put the headspace eliminator on, and have attached the AIO pump a few times already... My thought here is that any dissolved CO2 will be pulled out of solution, mix with the O2 in the headspace, and some of that mixture will be sucked out of the carboy resulting in a smaller amount of O2 in the carboy each time.
 

leftiesrule

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While the wine is outgassing, it's safe to have some headspace. Wine kits that are set to bottle in 8 weeks allow roughly 6 weeks of headspace with no issue, so that's the maximum in my estimation, although I personally am not comfortable with that long.

My recommendation is to follow the FWK procedure -- ferment to 1.010, then seal the fermenter with airlock. Rack on Day 14 into a 23 liter carboy, adding K-meta and K&C (Kieselsol & Chitosan). Wait 2 weeks and rack off the sediment; return to the carboy with K-meta. Top with a compatible wine and bulk age.

I do similar for fruit, juice, and grape wines -- Get the wine to drop the gross lees and a lot of the fine lees in 1 larger container, then rack, add K-meta, and rack back into whatever containers are required.

For kits this method eliminates all containers except the 23 liter carboy. If you're making fruit wines, white juice, or grapes? I agree with @Ohio Bob -- there will be small containers. I have a drawer full of airlocks and drilled stoppers from #3 up to #10. Lots of #3's, which fit wine bottles (125 ml up to 1.5 liter).

Regarding racking -- the old rule was to rack every 3 months. I challenge that -- every action performed should produce a positive effect. If the wine has no sediment or a light layer of fine lees, there is no value in racking -- the wine is being exposed to air and you are losing some volume, but are not producing a benefit. So don't rack. You can add K-meta without racking.

To add K-meta to small amounts of wine, dissolve 1/4 tsp K-meta in 5 or 6 Tbsp warm water. You can add 1 Tbsp of this mixture to 1 gallon / 4 liter jugs to get the right amount of K-meta. If you have smaller bottles divide it.

I don't know the math off the top of my head, but medical syringes for medicines are great. Figure out how many ml = 1 Tbsp of solution, and divide that by 5 to get the ml to add to a 750 ml bottle.

I'm still struggling to think in metric, as it's a lot easier in the long run. But it's not happening today ....

I wouldn't be comfortable, either, with more than 2 weeks of excessive headspace.

While I understand the ease of topping up and only using one container, I don't want to do that this time. My goal is to try out racking down to decide which method I prefer. Do you have any opinion on the use of fliptop glass growlers for the smaller containers? The wine is sitting at .996 so I can't imagine much more generation of CO2 and I'm using the AIO pump to splash rack under vacuum. Using the AIO pump and my racking cane it should be easy enough to rack into and out of carboys, glass jugs/growlers, and wine bottles

I like your method to add small amounts of kmeta. Another method I saw online was to make a 10% kmeta solution and dose according to a table they provided for target ppm and volume.
 
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Do you have any opinion on the use of fliptop glass growlers for the smaller containers?
If the wine is outgassing, a sealed container is potentially a grenade. I'd use a sealed container, like a fliptop or screwcap, only if I was 101% positive the wine is completely degassed.

From research on glass manufacturers, bottles are either rated for pressure, or are unrated. If unrated, there is no safe amount of pressure, as the bottle could have a weak spot.

OTOH, if you're making a carbonated wine, use a rated bottle such as champagne or beer (pop top, as screwcap will not seal), and use a measured dose of sugar that is within safe bounds.
 

leftiesrule

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If the wine is outgassing, a sealed container is potentially a grenade. I'd use a sealed container, like a fliptop or screwcap, only if I was 101% positive the wine is completely degassed.

From research on glass manufacturers, bottles are either rated for pressure, or are unrated. If unrated, there is no safe amount of pressure, as the bottle could have a weak spot.

OTOH, if you're making a carbonated wine, use a rated bottle such as champagne or beer (pop top, as screwcap will not seal), and use a measured dose of sugar that is within safe bounds.

Coming from homebrewing beer I totally understand the dangers of bottle bombs. These growlers are specifically meant to hold carbonated beer so I'd imagine they'd be fine to hold wine with some CO2 in solution from fermentation.
 
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As long as the CO2 is within the limits of typical carbonation, the growler should be ok.

Also keep in mind what may happen when you open a carbonated bottle, especially if you're not sure it's carbonated. I'm also a home brewer, and my understanding of the problems of a mini-volcano were earned the hard way. 🤣
 

silverbullet07

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I blanket w/ argon then pull a vacuum with the AIO pump. Then I don't worry about headspace at all.
When you pull vacuum with the AIO then wouldn’t it pull the argon out. That was my thought when I thought about doing that.
 

sremick

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When you pull vacuum with the AIO then wouldn’t it pull the argon out. That was my thought when I thought about doing that.
Most of what the vacuum pulls out would indeed be argon. But I'm pulling any remaining oxygen too and it's not going to be a perfect vacuum. Argon is heavier than air, so once things settle it's the remaining argon against the wine, and remaining O2 above that.

At least that's my thought process. It's not scientific. Logically I should be ok with just the argon and not the vacuum in addition, but I have the AIO Wine Pump so why not. :D
 

silverbullet07

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Most of what the vacuum pulls out would indeed be argon. But I'm pulling any remaining oxygen too and it's not going to be a perfect vacuum. Argon is heavier than air, so once things settle it's the remaining argon against the wine, and remaining O2 above that.

At least that's my thought process. It's not scientific. Logically I should be ok with just the argon and not the vacuum in addition, but I have the AIO Wine Pump so why not. :D
Have you been doing long term storage with the head space eliminators with the technique? I purchased the head space eliminators with long term storage and the wine not topped up but it seems no one was fond of the idea so I have been topping up and using air lock. But it sure would be nice to eliminate the top up.
 

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