Kits - Go by SG or Days?

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exodus

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Hello! My question regards the primary and secondary fermentation stages with kits. To achieve the best results, it seems to me it would be best to rack to the secondary carboy with an airlock as soon as you achieve the target SG in the primary (even if this is days before the instructions dictate). I know most feedback suggests following the instruction days exactly, but I don't understand the logic of letting the wine totally ferment out in the primary.

Also, say you do decided to rack it to a carboy as soon as the SG is reached (days early), what factors determine how long you leave it in the secondary and what is the goal at this phase. For example, say it's totally fermented out in the secondary in 4-days (SG<.995), what function is served by leaving it there for a couple of weeks rather than moving on to the next step?

Just trying to understand these first two parts of the process more, not trying to rush anything at all. I understand the wine needs time, but is it better to move through these first two steps based on SG then age the finished wine later?

Thank you!
 

STEEDTUCKER

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I believe your thoughts are correct. This is a natural process we are talking about here which does not adhere to time. I let the wine determine when the next step is even if it is early or later than the recipe suggests.



Hello! My question regards the primary and secondary fermentation stages with kits. To achieve the best results, it seems to me it would be best to rack to the secondary carboy with an airlock as soon as you achieve the target SG in the primary (even if this is days before the instructions dictate). I know most feedback suggests following the instruction days exactly, but I don't understand the logic of letting the wine totally ferment out in the primary.

Also, say you do decided to rack it to a carboy as soon as the SG is reached (days early), what factors determine how long you leave it in the secondary and what is the goal at this phase. For example, say it's totally fermented out in the secondary in 4-days (SG<.995), what function is served by leaving it there for a couple of weeks rather than moving on to the next step?

Just trying to understand these first two parts of the process more, not trying to rush anything at all. I understand the wine needs time, but is it better to move through these first two steps based on SG then age the finished wine later?

Thank you!
 

rawlus

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going by SG will yield the best results. the calendar time given is an approximation and will vary substantially from kit to kit, winemaker to winemaker, conditions to conditions, temp to temp, etc.
 

djrockinsteve

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Yes to going off of SG. Time is an approxamation. Your wine will be in the secondary (carboy) for 4-6 weeks while it clears. You'll need to add Pot. Meta. (see directions) and a clearing agent. Don't add the sludge at the bottom of your primary (dead yeast etc.). Add an airlock for any remaining gas to escape yet keep wine safe from harmful bacteria trying to grow in the neck of the carboy.
 

exodus

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Hi guys, thanks so much for the replies!

So how do you determine how long to keep in sitting in the secondary stage? If fermentation is complete within a few days of racking to the secondary, what is occurring if you let it sit there untouched for additional weeks? And what is the indicator to say it's time to move on to degassing, etc.?

Thanks again!
 

ffemt128

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I've only done 2 kits but it has all been by SG for me.
 

wyntheef

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Hi guys, thanks so much for the replies!

So how do you determine how long to keep in sitting in the secondary stage? If fermentation is complete within a few days of racking to the secondary, what is occurring if you let it sit there untouched for additional weeks? And what is the indicator to say it's time to move on to degassing, etc.?

Thanks again!
Again, this can be different depending on a whole slew of variables, but the main one (after fermentation is complete) is clearing.
If the wine is 'done', and you are happy with the clarity, you can proceed to stabilization and bottling. Or if you prefer, you can bulk age.
Search for other threads on topics such as: stabilization, degassing, bulk-aging and bottling for more detailed info.
In short, if you are doing a kit, you may be instructed to bottle fairly soon. And if you do this, you can't really go wrong. Then in the future, if you want to change it up, you would have some experience to refer back to.
 

Teamsterjohn

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So its been 6 days and the airlock still has gas coming up. To check the SG on my primary, I need to take the lid off. If its at the SG that I need, I will rack it, if not, I will put the lid back on for aday or so. So its ok to take the lid off to check the SG without harming the wine?
 

rawlus

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its okay to check the SG on the primary, after a few days this should be a daily thing for you anyway, once it reaches the target SG noted in your instructions, then go ahead and rack to secondary - be generous with your racking, don't leave too much liquid behind - you can leave the Gross lees, the heavy lees, but try to get as much liquid as you can - any sediment you bring over to secondary will get fined out in the clearing/stablisation stage - right now it's more important to bring over as much wine as you can - to minimize the amount of topping up you'll have to do later.
 

Teamsterjohn

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Thank you, if I need to, I will take a drive to get a bottle of wine the same as im making. But I will put as much as I can into the secondary.
 

rawlus

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don't worry about topping up until the second racking, after secondary fermentation is complete. and if its less than a bottle or so of topping up wine, i wouldn't be too overly concerned with even matching varietal with what you're making - topping a red with any dry red wine, a white with any dry white, will have very little discernable effect... less than 3% by volume. once you have some homemade wines of your own, topping up becomes easy, in the meantime, i find better-quality box wines to be convenient because you can use a measured amount necessary and the rest will stay good in the vacpack bag for up to a month...
 

Teamsterjohn

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Today after 6 days my wines SG is 1.020 My kit wants it at .998 It started at 1.086 so its coming down nicely. People say that you should be checking it everyday. I really dont want to open it up everyday. Do you think sunday morning would be a good time to check it again?
 

rawlus

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sunday should be fine john. during the primary ferment, there's not much risk in opening daily and giving a stir as long as you are practicing good sanitization. it wouldn't hurt to be tasting samples along the way to educate your palate in how the wine progresses from juice to fermented product.

you say your kit wants it at 0998, is that when it instructs to rack to a carboy for secondary?
 

Teamsterjohn

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Yes, it read around day 14 .998 its still bubbleing pretty good. And I will taste some on Sunday. Thanks
 

cpfan

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Yes, it read around day 14 .998 its still bubbleing pretty good. And I will taste some on Sunday. Thanks
John: I never check the sg every day unless it's down to the end.

It sounds like you're making an RJ Spagnols kit (please always mention the kit) based on the 14 day primary comment. If I was following their instructions, I would start the kit, check visually after a couple of days to ensure that fermentation started, and then leave it alone until day 14. Then I would chack the sg. Most RJS kits have finished around .995 for me. So if I was pleased with the sg, then I would rack to carboy and continue to follow the instructions (adding additives, degassing, etc).

Steve
 

Teamsterjohn

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Hi Steve, your right about the kit name. I mostly say what kit im doing, but I was just asking a general question, but your right. OK, ill wait a few more days then. Im not trying to rush it.Steve, can you tell me what your starting Sg was for when you did one of these kits. I took the SG but didnt take the temp. of the wine to ajust for the Hmeter? Thanks again
 
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