My first 2023 Merlot Wine Racking

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artooks

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Hello everyone,


Yesterday, exactly 15 days after pressing, I completed my 1st racking. Unfortunately, I experienced some setbacks. Don't try to shake the hydrometer you cleaned from the thin side in order to dry it. Normally, I do the opposite, but this time, for some reason, that happened and my hydrometer broke into pieces, I spent half an hour cleaning it. The metal balls weighing inside the hydrometer were spread left and right, the glass of which was so thin that it got everywhere. Anyway, after all the equipment was washed, cleaned and disinfected, I first weighed the tare of the 500 ml (17 oz) beaker, then I took a wine sample from the faucet of the tank until it reached 500 ml (17 oz), then I weighed it and record it, then I weighed the tare of all the buckets of wine and after racking all the wine in the tank to these buckets I made some calculations and found that I had 57 liters(15 Gallon) of Merlot wine in total. I started with a total of 85 kg of grapes, now I have 57 liters (15 Gallon) of wine, so after the first racking, the ratio to grapes to wine is 67%.

The last time when I measured the gravity, was 0.994 on the last pressing day, it now reached 0.991. I did a small tasting, the taste was great, but I smelled a slight yeasty smell, which is normal at this stage.

After transferring the wine to buckets, I looked at the bottom of the tank and saw a thick layer of lees. As far as I understand, all the dead yeasts are there, so I guess that's why there may be a yeast smell during the first transfers.

I usually divide my wine into 3 buckets, but I fill the first bucket a little too much, thinking about how much will be left in the last bucket. I filled 22 liters (5.8 gal) into a 30-liter (8 gal) bucket, but when you want to pour it back into the tank, it requires both strength and the wine starts to fluctuate as the volume increases. Fortunately, very little was spilled on me. Unfortunately once the misfortunes start, they never end.

After completing the transfer, I checked the faucet and the lower plug there was no problem ( last year I had some problems of leakage but this year I changed the faucet with a better one), so I brought the variable capacity lid and left it on the wine, pumped it around 0.4 bar, checked the wine level in the airlock and left it, as I was just leaving I noticed that the wine was leaking from the point where I pumped the air on the seal, then I saw that it was leaking a lot from the edges also, I had never experienced this much before, I wiped it with a paper towel to no avail, I emptied the lid and changed the direction, to no avail, I applied lower pressure to no avail, my nerves got tense, I started to think that this was not normal at all. I have a second spare variable capacity lid, I bought it to prepare it ahead of time during transfers, I went and checked it, while looking at it, something caught my attention, the seal of the floating cover is not homogeneous, one side is 2 cm (0.8”) and the other side is 1.6 cm (0.63”). I put the longer part below, which should have been the other way around, due to this there was not enough lip on the top side to provide adequate sealing, unfortunately this was not on the manuel and I had to find it the hard way, anyway, the direction was corrected, the spare variable capacity lid was left on the wine, I started to pump until I saw the wine under the white airlock at around 0.4 bar pressure, I closed the valve and locked the pump by tightening it. This time when I checked I didn't see any leaks. Pay attention to this when installing the gasket on the variable capacity lid. The wider part of the gasket will face up.

Every stage of making wine this year has been difficult and tiring, there have been some setbacks, first of all, it is a seriously labor-intensive hobby, and sometimes you find yourself working until 4 in the morning without realizing how the hours chase each other, of course, this changes over time, for example last year it was much difficult for me as it was the first year of my winemaking. But now I have some experience which helps me to predict and plan my work.

As I finished my 1st racking, I feel very happy now and my second racking will be 2 months after this so I feel like I am on a vacation . I hope all of us have good wines this year.
 

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I'm happy things worked out for you.

You need a pump. Once a batch gets over a certain size, the risk of personal injury or dropping the container goes up. A pump solves the problem.

A few years ago my son & I picked up a full 54 liter demijohn. For two strong men, the weight was not a problem -- but the darned thing was slippery and we nearly dropped it. That is the absolutely most idiotic thing I've ever done in winemaking. I purchased a pump after that and don't regret it.

I use an auto-siphon for small batches, but once the volume gets above 23 liters, the pump comes out.
 
I'm happy things worked out for you.

You need a pump. Once a batch gets over a certain size, the risk of personal injury or dropping the container goes up. A pump solves the problem.

A few years ago my son & I picked up a full 54 liter demijohn. For two strong men, the weight was not a problem -- but the darned thing was slippery and we nearly dropped it. That is the absolutely most idiotic thing I've ever done in winemaking. I purchased a pump after that and don't regret it.

I use an auto-siphon for small batches, but once the volume gets above 23 liters, the pump comes out.
Thanks a lot but as I said I divide the tank into 3 buckets each 23 liter I can manage but even the 23 liter becomes harder as you work with a lot of things and become tired. I now think that winemaking also helps losing weight :) at least in my case
 
Beautiful color on the wine. Yes to the pump. I bought some 7 gallon glass water bottles for winemaking and I am struggling to move those darn things when full.
I am so in need of a variable capacity tank too.
You are right these tanks are very useful in managing oxygen, I wish there was variable capacity tanks at smaller volumes, but the smallest that I saw was 50 liters

https://www.grapeandgranary.com/tank-50-liter-variable-capacity.html
If there was a smaller variable capacity lid we would not need any extra vessels to divide up.
 
Beautiful color!! I'm jealous of that color since I'm pressing my Pinot today and my color will be nowhere near that dark. Of course with 100% Pinot a somewhat light color is to be expected but I really love the visual appeal of an inky, deep red wine.
 
Beautiful color!! I'm jealous of that color since I'm pressing my Pinot today and my color will be nowhere near that dark. Of course with 100% Pinot a somewhat light color is to be expected but I really love the visual appeal of an inky, deep red wine.
I kept the wine in maceration with the skins for 9 days and also punch down 3 times a day, that really helped. How long did you kept your pinot in maceration ?
 
I kept the wine in maceration with the skins for 9 days and also punch down 3 times a day, that really helped. How long did you kept your pinot in maceration ?
Take a look at maceration enzymes, some of which pull a lot of color from the skins. The picture below is 2/3 Merlot, 1/3 other Bordeaux grapes (CS, CF, Malbec, Petit Verdot), and I used Scottzyme Color Pro.

Meritage.jpg

My 2022 Grenache isn't anywhere near as dark, but there's a LOT less to work with. A 2022 Rhone blend (Mourvedre, Syrah, Petite Sirah) may be darker than the above wine.

In 2021 I used Color Pro on FWK Forte kits with 2 skin packs, and got color nearly as dark.
 
I kept the wine in maceration with the skins for 9 days and also punch down 3 times a day, that really helped. How long did you kept your pinot in maceration ?
10 days, and did 4 punchdowns a day, and did a ~10% saignee as well, used Lallzyme EX, Tannin FT Rouge Soft, and Opti-Red at recommended dosages. (A little under-dosed the opti-red) I've certainly seen some commercial Pinots with a color similar to mine but it seems like it's on the light side for sure, even for Pinot. I bet a larger saignee percent would help, as would cold soaking, which I didn't feel like I had the ability to do without inviting too much spoilage microbes. I also bet a lot of commercial pinots, especially cheaper ones, aren't 100% Pinot. In fact if I need extra wine to top off later, I might use a bottle of Alicante Bouschet if I can find one.

Also it might be because the grapes were slightly underripe - SG was 1.091 the day of crushing - I chaptalized a tiny bit to get it probably around 1.095. But there was significant rain in the forecast at the vineyard for the day after I picked, so I think I got them at the right time.
 
The color in my Pinot is starting to look darker now that the gross lees are settling out. I think it's starting to look good! I guess they made it more opaque and reflective. Also the picture above was taken outside and now it's inside, though in a bright-ish room. Can update with another pic after racking off gross lees
 
I’m 4 days into my fermentation (1.5 parts Cab Sav, 1 part merlot, 1 part petite Syrah) and will probably be almost dry when I measure today, yet color still seems light. I’m a little apprehensive to do an EM since the headspace in the brute is probably 8-10 inches. I guess it will be a game time decision
 
I’m 4 days into my fermentation (1.5 parts Cab Sav, 1 part merlot, 1 part petite Syrah) and will probably be almost dry when I measure today, yet color still seems light. I’m a little apprehensive to do an EM since the headspace in the brute is probably 8-10 inches. I guess it will be a game time decision
Put the lid on the Brute. It's not a tight seal, but it should be fine for a short EM. Post-fermentation the wine is outgassing heavily -- while the CO2 mixes rapidly with the present air, it also pushes out the air at the top, so you'll get a primarily CO2 gas within a short time. The wine should be fine for 3 to 5 days with no problem.
 
I’m 4 days into my fermentation (1.5 parts Cab Sav, 1 part merlot, 1 part petite Syrah) and will probably be almost dry when I measure today, yet color still seems light. I’m a little apprehensive to do an EM since the headspace in the brute is probably 8-10 inches. I guess it will be a game time decision
Did you use any maceration enzymes like Lallzyme EX? You could also think about adding fermentation tannins and/or Opti-Red if you haven't already to help lock in and stabilize the color you already have plus whatever additional comes out in the end of primary/EM.
 
Did you use any maceration enzymes like Lallzyme EX? You could also think about adding fermentation tannins and/or Opti-Red if you haven't already to help lock in and stabilize the color you already have plus whatever additional comes out in the end of primary/EM.
I did use Lallzyme EX-V, then added FT Rouge 8 hours later per directions. So far it doesn’t seem super dark but sometimes it’s deceiving before the wine clears. In the meantime, I’m going to take winemakers advice and seal up the brute, so what I did was bought a silicone gasket from Home Depot and lined the inside of the cover. Combine that with some duct tape and I was able to get it to pressurize
 

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I did use Lallzyme EX-V, then added FT Rouge 8 hours later per directions. So far it doesn’t seem super dark but sometimes it’s deceiving before the wine clears. In the meantime, I’m going to take winemakers advice and seal up the brute, so what I did was bought a silicone gasket from Home Depot and lined the inside of the cover. Combine that with some duct tape and I was able to get it to pressurize
Whoa! I love that idea!
 
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