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How to Rack From Primary

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RickD

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Bear in mind I still don't know what I'm doing. I've finished one batch so far (blackberry from frozen berries), and I'm thrilled with the results.

It is apparent that I've got some inaccurate and/or incomplete information regarding racking from primary.

I've been working under the assumption that "everything goes"...in other words, everything in the primary fermenter goes to the carboy except for whatever you are able to filter/strain out (e.g., large solids). This is how I ran the blackberry.

However, I've been reading "The Art of Making Wine" (1974 ed.). That source explicitly states that when racking from primary you should strive to draw off only the "clear" wine, leaving all solids, sediment and cap behind.

Which is correct?
 

cmason1957

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Bear in mind I still don't know what I'm doing. I've finished one batch so far (blackberry from frozen berries), and I'm thrilled with the results.

It is apparent that I've got some inaccurate and/or incomplete information regarding racking from primary.

I've been working under the assumption that "everything goes"...in other words, everything in the primary fermenter goes to the carboy except for whatever you are able to filter/strain out (e.g., large solids). This is how I ran the blackberry.

However, I've been reading "The Art of Making Wine" (1974 ed.). That source explicitly states that when racking from primary you should strive to draw off only the "clear" wine, leaving all solids, sediment and cap behind.

Which is correct?
Probably somewhere in the middle. When I have made fruit wines in the past, I would put all my fruit into a fermenting bag (or a paint strainer bag, or a old pair of pantyhose) to contain the majority of the solids. I take that out and squeeze the heck out of it, trying to get it as dry as I possibly can. I don't worry about breaking seeds or anything like that, since I often will do this step by hand. Then if there are any floating large pieces I skim those out with something (after sanitizing it). Finally, I take my racking cane and shove it all the way to the bottom and get nearly everything that I can from, if there is a large bunch of lees down there, when I get close to done, I might not get all of it, but I do rack a bunch of it prior to that. My feeling is leave the biggest, heaviest stuff get the rest, if it fell out once, it will fall out again and the true lees that might cause off tastes or odors are just left behind as a matter of course. I hope this helps. I'm sure others will chime in with what they do, some try to only get "the clear wine". I know some will rack anything with lees in it into another container to be used for topping up or to let it clear then just get the clear wine from that.

Try a few different things and come up with the way that works for you.
 

Rembee

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As @cmason1957 explained, take out your fermenting bag if you used one. If not then remove as much fuirt/skins as you can. Then rack into a carboy, the wine and lees. I call this my dirty rack. Alot of those lees are your colony of yeast that stopped working for what ever reason. A lot of times this will get them back to work. Any off flavors, that some may be worried about in the lees, will take much longer then a month or 2 to impart any off taste into the wine. Now let it sit under an airlock for 4 to 6 weeks. Then rack only clean liquid into another carboy. This will now become your stabilization stage that some call the secondary fermentation. I don't like using the term secondary fermentation because there should not be any fermentation taking place at this stage. Just clearing, stabilization and degassing.
 
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Rembee

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I should also mention that by racking now, you will be getting rid of some C02 which is a good thing. Sometimes the yeast will slow down because there is to much C02 present. The C02 is yeast waste. And no one likes swimming around in their own waste, not even the yeast lol. This is not taking into account that alcohol tolerance will stop fermentation also.
 

Scooter68

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Yup - Best to use a fruit bag. What I am suggesting applies to either a racking that I would do when the SG is down to 1.010 or lower OR if the fermentation finished quickly and this was the first 'post -ferment' racking where I am adding K-Meta.
- Pull that fruit bag out first slowly (trying to minimize disturbing the heavy sediment. Then if you can squeeze it out over a funnel into your new container (Carboy) you will minimize the amount of dead yeast going into that new container. (Some folks just hang the bag and let it drip - personally I prefer to use clean hands and wring that sucker out very firmly.
- Then if you were able to do that without stirring up the heavy sediment on the bottom of the bucket, just rack the clear wine into the carboy.
- Finally as others have said - I save the upper layer of the sediment left in the bucket into the tallest containers that I have that I can fit in my fridge. Cap them lightly and set in the fridge for 1-4 days max. You should be able to recover a lot of wine from those containers with a turkey baster just sucking that clear wine off the top.
- Then if the new carboy is full put that recovered wine in another clean glass container and airlock it - aging it just like the wine in the carboy.
- IF this is not a post-ferment racking you shouldn't fill that new carboy all the way to the top - in case if foams up a bit. In this case the extra wine will also need to be watched and stored with a little headspace just like the carboy - in case of foaming.
- For a post-ferment rack - I want to fill that carboy all the way until I have a bout 1" to 1 1/2" of headspace.

- Oh yeah - discard the fruit pulp from the bag into your compost bin or if you want to intoxicate the local wildlife leave it out for the critters. (I have actually tried the leftover pulp from Peach wine on vanilla ice cream - Roughly like a brandied fruit topping. Pretty yeasty but not bad.
1614096737527.png
 

winemaker81

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Anderson's "The Art of Making Wine" was my second book -- in general this 50 yo book is still quite relevant.

Like others, my first rack is dirty. If you do a clean rack, you're throwing away a lot of wine. I don't pick up the heavy sludge, but a lot of the loose will go. For small batches I wrap a fine straining bag around the end of the racking cane. For 4 lug batches of red grapes last fall, I made a tool -- 4" food grade PVC pipe, 15" long, with a lot of 1/4" holes drilled in the bottom 6", wrapping in a fine straining bag. It worked VERY well in straining out chunks and kept the racking flowing at a good pace.

My second racking is typically 7 to 21 days later, after fermentation has stopped and the remaining heavy lees has compacted a bit. This rack is cleaner than the 1st, but not 100%. When done, I'll pour the loose lees into tall bottles and refrigerate to quickly settle. Sometimes this saves a fair amount of wine, sometimes not.

Yesterday I racked 8 or 9 gallons of wines, mostly in 4 liter jugs, some in 750 ml bottles. I racked the 4 liter jugs and carefully poured the 750's, leaving sediment behind in all containers. This rack is my first clean one.

I poured the loose sludge from all containers into a single 1.5 liter bottle and refrigerated. In a few days I'll pour it off, and will have recovered over 1.5x 750 ml bottles of wine. Following is what it looks like after 18 hours in the fridge:

IMG_20210226_104921508.jpg

The angel's share of each 54 liter barrel is about 500 ml/ month, so I saved 2.5 months of topup .....

:db
 

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