Raking wine made from juice

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Oct 9, 2022
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Making my wine from juice. I have one bucket in the carboy and another one finishing fermenting. Soon it will go in the carboy as well.
Wondering how many times I will need to rack. I have been reading many different opinions on the forum. Do I need to add k meta every time I rack? And I was reading also of clarifying...what product do you use? And do you need to use it? I always try not to use too many products to keep it as natural as possible...what is the mininum that would need to be added to make sure the wine will come out fine?

Ohio Bob

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Jan 29, 2022
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Cleveland, Ohio area
How many times depends on whether the wine complies in clearing. There is no firm answer.

You do not need to do anything if you wish, just understand anytime you open your carboy you’re exposing your wine, Kmeta is strongly suggested at rackings, which can be as long as 3 or more months between rackings. If not racking add Kmeta every 3 months anyway.

You do not need to add fining against if you bulk age your wine for at least 9-12 months. If you want to bottle it sooner you may need finings agents. Everyone has their favorite. There is no one answer. Do the research.
Nov 5, 2006
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Raleigh, NC, USA
How many times to rack? My answer is "as few as possible". When performing any action on your wine, ask yourself what you're accomplishing. If you are not achieving something useful, don't do it.

I've give you a practical example -- I pressed 3 wines today. Gross lees (fruit solids) supposedly drop within 3 days, and I will rack in 1 to 3 weeks. After that they are all in bulk aging -- one wine is intended for blending into other wines and it will spend ~12 months in a carboy. The others are lighter bodied and will probably spend ~6 months in a carboy, and will be bottled. During bulk aging, any sediment that builds up is fine lees (yeast hulls) which are harmless, so I will not rack the wines, as I gain nothing by racking.

K-meta is an anti-oxidant and preservative. It produces free SO2, which protects the wine by binding to contaminants, rendering them harmless. This means the free SO2 gets used up, and needs to be replenished. IME, wines make without sulfite have short shelf lives. Note -- as Bob pointed out, racking exposes the wine to O2, so not racking more than necessary protects the wine. I add K-meta at each racking, post-fermentation, as it protects the wine.

Fining agents? Most wines clear with time. Not all do, so it's a judgment call. If you are planning to bottle in less than 4 months, you need fining agents else you'll have sediment in the bottle.

Regarding the minimum things to be added to wine? You are looking at winemaking with preconceived notions that are not conducive to making good wine. Every additive has its place. Some are used only for very specific situations. Most require trade-offs, e.g., if you don't want to use fining agents you have to bulk age wine longer. If you understand "why" and "how" additives are used, you can make an informed decision to use or not use.
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Supporting Members
Supporting Member
Jan 29, 2014
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Food Industry - - Retired
There will be quite a few opinions here on WMT. If you step back and ask “is this for a 90 day kit” ,,, “is this for a two year carboy red wine?” ,,, “is this for a one year fruit wine?” The opinions can be explained if you ask in which time line?
Racking; my goal is three times, I basically rack when I think I can improve the wine. Racking exposes to oxygen which is bad for long term storage/ flavor. I add meta each racking since meta (free SO2). removes oxygen. ,,, I add 50 ppm meta/ assume the residual is zero each time.

Fining agents; when you get down to it fining agents are to make a wine pretty, how important is that? how patient are you? (time does the same in many cases) Kits are made for ninety days therefore they aren’t patient and teach us to do interventions. , , , time fixes lots of turbidity issues.

Natural; organic wine is technically possible but frequently suffers short shelf life due to oxidation. If I was trying to do natural I would start with high tannin (antioxidant) fruit. The last few years I have added crab apples to most wines (including white grape) since they contain tannin which helps manage shelf life.

. . . . the basic question about meta / organic is how fast do you plan to drink it?
. . . . sugar fixes a lot of problems but adds a shelf life issue if K sorbate is used , , , my favorite sugar is frozen concentrate from the grocery.
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