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Please explain why and when to rack a wine.

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arcticsid

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I have heard of people racking a wine 4, 5, 6 times, every month, every other month, etc.

I have also heard of people transfering it to a secondary, allow it to sit for several, months, than rack, allow to clear etc. Than bottle.

Anyone can explain this a bit?.

Obviously some wines need to be racked periodically, some don't.

Would appreciate an answer to show why and when. Learn us old great wine makers!! LOL


Troy
 

Tom

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You only rack when NEDED.
That being said this is after you add your finnings. To many rack to soon and to often. Once you add clairifiers I like it to sit for 4-6 weeks so there is a solid layer on the bottom of the carboy. Some wines (fresh fruit) need more that "juice" wines.
Only thing to remember is you chould ck the sulfite levels every 3 months.
If you use a low end kit ot a "mist" wine then you can bottle in 2 months from begining. I rarely bottle when the kits say to
YOU CAN'T RUSH WINEMAKING.
Wineries age their wines 1 - 2 YEARS so if you think you can make a 30 day wine... well... don't expect a great wine. :sm
 

arcticsid

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Fine and dandy.

But when do you know when it is needed? And, if it is aging for months, how do you chk for sulfite levels?

It also seems to me, the more you rack the more of the actual wine you lose to this process and it seems also the more you rack it the more chance you take on exposing it to oxidation.
 
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But when do you know when it is needed? And, if it is aging for months, how do you chk for sulfite levels?

It also seems to me, the more you rack the more of the actual wine you lose to this process and it seems also the more you rack it the more chance you take on exposing it to oxidation.
it is needed when you have more than 1/4-1/2 an inch of sediment in the bottom. if it's getting close to clear and i've only racked it once, but there's barely 1/4 an inch after 3 weeks, i'll wait maybe 1 more week and then rack. it's up to the discretion of the wine maker when exactly. i try to clear most wines in 3-4 rackings. i try to figure out when to do it by how much it has changed and hope it only takes three. i probably take more time with my wine's than most on here. i let them sit for 3-7 months and sometimes longer. most are about 4-5 months. with a racking every 6-7 weeks until clear. that said. i make almost all FRESH fruit wines, which have more sediment. if i use a vintners harvest juice, it will clear much faster and might be ready to bottle in 3-4 months.

you need an S02 tester for checking sulfates.

if you are careful when you rack, use enough sulfates and keep headspace down, you don't need to worry bout o2. only strawberry, apple and pear have ever changed on me. it was mostly color and not taste.
 

Tom

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Maybe someone can jump in and explain the difference between FREE and BONDED sulfite. I'm always confused on this.
 

Leanne

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Shouldn't you be asking more about getting the stuff in bottles honey? :):):):)
 

steviepointer

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Tom:
IIRC, free fulfite exists as disolved SO2. However, bonded sulfite is SO2 that is chemically bonded to other elements. Here is an example:

One of the jobs that SO2 can do, is prevent oxidation. It does this because O2 bonds to it much quicker than O2 bonding to the phenols in wine. Hence SO2 will 'gobble' up O2. When you combine 2 molecules of SO2 and one molecule of O2, you end up with 2 molecules of SO3 (basically an O2 molecule was split between 2 SO2 molecules). In water, 1 molecule of SO3 combines with 1 molecule of water (H20) to become H2SO4 (sulfuric acid).

So, what started out as free SO2, became sulfite bonded into sulfuric acid.

Does that help?

Disclaimer: I'm backing up 2 decades ago from a previous career, so my chem may be a little fuzzy.
 
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djrockinsteve

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For me, I rack when my s.g. hits 1.000 or less and stops declining. I will pour from my primary into mycarboy thru a funnel and screen and allow the wine to splash. (Oh no did he say splash?) Yes, this disapates the majority of my CO2.

I'll add pot. meta. and other than a few wines I'm doing now I will add sparleloid. I don't care for bentonite so I have been using sparkeloid and have had no problems at all.

I'll let my wine sit for 6 weeks then rack off the lees into another carboy, add a pinch of pot. meta. oak possibly depending upon the wine, airlock and let it sit 6 to 12 months. The majority of my carboys are filled within an inch of the bung.

When it's time I'll check the s.g., sweeten and sorbate if needed then bottle sometime thereafter when I know it hasn't refermented.

This was the way I was taught and my wines are great. I know everyone does things differently but as long as you have no problems and care for your wine then who is right and who is wrong? No One!

I personally don't want my wines to taste exactly the same year after year. I like to make a variety and as I've mentioned before have most likely over 20 different wines aging or ready to bottle.

One of my clients works for the LCB as a taste tester. After giving him some of my wine he conveyed to me that my wines were just if not better than most of what they carry in the stores. This made me feel really good considering I was making mine in my basement.
 
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^he has some good points. it's almost all up to the winemaker. that is why 2 people can make the same recipe and end up with noticeable different wines. which one is better? well, we all have different taste too, so there's never a clear cut answer. it's not science, nor art. it's both.

i just don't like mine to sit on the lees for too long, so i rack a little earlier than the 1.00. doesn't make me right or him wrong or vice versa.

splash racking isn't a bad idea, either.
 

Luc

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I will never recommend this to anyone and will never admit that I ever said this however......

I think I am the most lazy winemaker around here.

First I make my wine and when vigorous fermentation is over or I find that pulp-fermenting has taken long enough I transfer my wine to a carboy.

Next I let it ferment dry.

Then I let it clear on it's own.

Then I bottle it.

The fine less do not bother me and I have never encountered
any problems like foul smells or flavor.
So saying things in another way: I never rack my wines.

I call it in a fancy word: aging sur lees
Just like the french do...........

Luc
 

Leanne

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I will never recommend this to anyone and will never admit that I ever said this however......

I think I am the most lazy winemaker around here.

First I make my wine and when vigorous fermentation is over or I find that pulp-fermenting has taken long enough I transfer my wine to a carboy.

Next I let it ferment dry.

Then I let it clear on it's own.

Then I bottle it.

The fine less do not bother me and I have never encountered
any problems like foul smells or flavor.
So saying things in another way: I never rack my wines.

I call it in a fancy word: aging sur lees
Just like the french do...........

Luc
I forgive you my son.
Actually I am much the same. A wine does what it will.
 

Torch404

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I usually rack to carboy (secondary) once the SG starts getting low and I'm not worried about bubbling through the airlock. I leave it in carboy until clear. Then I rack to another carboy and allow to settle for another week or two before bottling.

If there is a reason like excessive sediment or something that I want to be more delicate about. I will rack off the fine lees in the middle, this is the exception not the rule.
 

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