Racking

Discussion in 'General Wine Making Forum' started by pete1325, Mar 4, 2019.

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  1. Mar 4, 2019 #1

    pete1325

    pete1325

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    Hi, I normally rack and add K-Meta every three months. Unfortunately I have been pretty busy these past months and haven't had time, looking at me notes it's been 4-5 months since my last racking. Just curious to know how long you folks go between between racking. I'm guessing I'm fine but thought I'd ask.....
     
  2. Mar 4, 2019 #2

    salcoco

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    three months max
     
  3. Mar 4, 2019 #3

    bowhunter32

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    3 months, however I have forgotten about some wines for that long and they turned out just fine.
     
  4. Mar 4, 2019 #4

    gabe

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    I rack my reds after Malo completed than Easter time usually,(3 months), than again 3 months. Prior to bottling I rack again always adding metabisulphate to it @ each racking.
     
  5. Mar 4, 2019 #5

    mainshipfred

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    I would say maintaining sulfite levels is more important then a racking schedule. Do you have a way of measuring your free SO2?
     
  6. Mar 5, 2019 #6

    jsbeckton

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    I think that the main purpose of the “every 3 months” sulfite additions is to protect the wine when racking...every three months. So while measuring levels would be ideal I think you are just fine as long as you make an addition when you do rack.
     
  7. Mar 5, 2019 #7

    Fermator

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    This mead I’m drinking is the best home brew wine I’ve ever made. No sulfites added about six months between racking. All my wines before that were crap and I added sulfites I’m not anti sulfite but tons of wine was made without sanitizer or sulfite and everyone got buzzed for years and years.
     
  8. Mar 5, 2019 #8

    pete1325

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    Thanks to all for replying......I think I'll be okay for now but will need to find time to rack & add K-Meta just to be on the safe side.
     
  9. Mar 5, 2019 #9

    Rice_Guy

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    * The purpose of racking is to separate a supernate from a precipitate.
    My feeling is that a few of the club members rack too much,,, and fill the carboy up with marbles month by month. My guess is that we do more damage by exposing to oxygen so I try to rack 3 times max. The third should be 99% plus free of lees so if it sits a year in #3 who cares. There is a legal limit on sulphites (in commercial wines) and I don't want to push the limit, , , and I religiously add meta.
    Yes I have let time in glass slip too.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2019
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  10. Mar 5, 2019 #10

    SethF

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    Just to be clear, arbitrarily picking 3 months does you no goodIf your timing is off otherwise.

    I agree that racking too often over exposes to oxygen.

    Always keep in mind that you want to rack off the gross lees as soon as possible.

    I would and then rack following MLS, unless you're choosing to leave the wine on the fine Lee's and stir for mouthfeel. Then it's a matter of personal choice and preference.

    I agree that racking 3 times should be sufficient unless you want to throw in an extra racking for blending or bottling purposes.
     
  11. Mar 5, 2019 #11

    jsbeckton

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    I think that the concerns of over sulfating wine are widely exaggerated unless you or someone you know has specific allergy or something. I don’t know any such people so in general I stick with the 1/4 tsp every 3 months rule of thumb without a second thought.

    Personally, I’m on the side of possibly slightly overdoing it rather than under doing it because I plan to have my wines around for many years.

    Agree though that there is not much benefit if racking more than 3 times unless you have a specific need to do so.

    I’d be curious if anyone who used to use rules of thumb like that but now has a vinmetrica have tested any of their old wines to see how far from ideal they ended up being?
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2019
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  12. Mar 6, 2019 #12

    sour_grapes

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    I agree with your general sentiments, but you don't really mean 1 tsp, do you? Don't you mean the standard 1/4 tsp (for 6 gallons)?
     
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  13. Mar 6, 2019 #13

    Scooter68

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    Most folks I've seen discussing their processes simply use common sense.
    1) Racking during fermentation when the SG reaches their normal transition point. {Call it Secondary Fermentation if you wish even though it's just one fermentation other that MLF} (Most rack when the SG is somewhere between 1.020 and 1.000.) They rack into a carboy from bucket typically
    2) They then rack into a fresh carboy when fermentation is completed unless they are going to leave the wine on the skins.
    3) The next racking is then done when the fine lees have settled sufficiently so that wine volume loss is minimized.
    4) From that point on I believe most folks rack at 3 month intervals because in most cases that's when the SO2 level hits a point where a bulk aging wine needs the SO2 level to be restored.
    If you have test equipment to determine precisely when to rack and add more K-meta great! For those of us who don't have that equipment the 3 months practice is what we choose to use.
    Aging for me is not less than 9 months from the end of fermentation unless I have some indication that the wine has lost that new wine edge.

    With some wines the amount of lees dropping out drives them to rack a couple of extra times. I doubt that their wines are experiencing that much danger of oxidizing.
    That's part of what makes this hobby fun and interesting is that there are so many variables to the process and a lot depends on the type of wine you are making and how the fruit is prepared.
    This is not a one size fit all hobby. In some cases more racking is needed to separate the wine from the lees which could negatively affect the wine.
     
  14. Mar 6, 2019 #14

    askins3097

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    I was talking to a winery owner about this subject a couple weeks ago. He brought up a good point about residual sugar. If your wine is dry there is far less of a chance for bacteria to grow so you have a lot more leeway with sulfites. Like myself, he felt you’re risking over exposure to oxygen and other contaminants more than any benefit you’re gaining from excessive racking. Now if it’s a sweet or semi-sweet wine, sulfite levels become much more important as they’re more likely to contaminate and spoil. I don’t make sweet wines usually so I can’t really comment on this, but I thought the whole conversation was interesting to hear from a professional’s perspective.

    I myself rack once around 1.010-1.020. Again in a few weeks after the majority of the gross lees drops. Then one more time in a couple months after the majority of the rest of the lees drops, then that’s it. I add sulfates each racking but not before bottling. I hate that sulfite smell/taste you get with some commercial wines, so I avoid it right before bottling. I’ve yet to have a problem, even with wines up to 3 years in the bottle *knock on wood*. I’ve never had any make it past 3 years lol.
     
  15. Mar 6, 2019 #15

    jsbeckton

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    Yup, meant 1/4!
     
  16. Mar 6, 2019 #16

    Stressbaby

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    Actually people have been sulfiting wines for perhaps a couple of millennia. The Romans sulfited their wines, not the way we do it, but by burning sulfur inside barrels.

    I've given it a second thought. I've followed this rule religiously, only to find some wines dangerously low on SO2. It may work fine for a 3.2 white, but I for one am certainly checking levels on a 3.6 tannic red, and checking them frequently.
     
  17. Mar 6, 2019 #17

    Scooter68

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    "Fermator said:

    "This mead I’m drinking is the best home brew wine I’ve ever made. No sulfites added about six months between racking. All my wines before that were crap and I added sulfites I’m not anti sulfite but tons of wine was made without sanitizer or sulfite and everyone got buzzed for years and years."

    And over that time, before real records were kept folks just died from bad food, water, drink etc and it was just accepted that they did something wrong or it was bad luck. There were no autopsies on peasants, farmers or others, it just happened and people moved on with their lives.

    Just because there are no records of how many died from what, other than the massive numbers of deaths during plagues, doesn't mean folks didn't get sick or die from their wine.

    It may be unlikely now in our eyes, but; back then in the, sanitation habits and abilities were much different. We expect the water from or tap to be safe to drink and most of us would be cautious before drinking from other sources unless we were certain of the water quality.

    Most recently - less than a month ago 130 people died in India from a bootleg 'wine.' https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-47341941
    Granted in this case methods were outside what we would use, but it does happen even today.
     
  18. Mar 6, 2019 #18

    jsbeckton

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    Interesting. How “dangerously low” were they and do you find that it varies significantly from one wine to the next?

    Also, did you notice any oxidation on the low wines? I have about 5 red wines from my early days that are all about 3 years old now and none show any hint of oxidation. I guess only time will tell if they hold true but if they are fine I won’t be looking to measure SO2 because the rule of thumb seems to be working just fine for me.
     
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  19. Mar 15, 2019 #19

    Chuck E

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    I am making a Pinot Blanc. My plan was to let it age for a while on the fine lees to improve "mouth feel". It's been about 2 months now.

    My question is about racking off the lees. My lees is very "fluffy" for lack of a better term. I am thinking my racking cane will pick up too much lees as it seems to be about an inch thick. It would be a shame to leave so much wine in the carboy. Are there alternatives to consider?
     

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  20. Mar 15, 2019 #20

    cmason1957

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    If it were me, I would put that racking cane all the way down into the lees, you will suck up some, I might not tip the carboy to get every last drop of wine, but I might. It would depend on the depth of the lees in the middle of the carboy. That stuff fell out once, it will fall out again, generally for me the next day or within the week.
     
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