SG question

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Feb 21, 2009
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I have seen a few posts saying you should do the first racking when the SG is between 1.010 and 1.020. I am using a Grand Cru Chardonnay kit that says to rack when the SG is below .998. Which should I go by? Initial reading was 1.080. Directions say it takes about 2 weeks. Also, it says after 1st racking wait another 2 weeks and then bottle. Should I allow more time for this? Maybe a month or so? Thanks for the help.
Just follow the instructions as they are. If you check the sg and it is done then I would transfer out of the bucket as the will have just lost all the C02 protection that was blanketing your wine in the primary, if its still fermenting then just leave it in there for the remainder of whats left of the time as it will help the wine degas and also let some lees fall in there and you will transfer less sediment over to carboy!

Instructions vary from company to company, and even from brand to brand. It is always best, as a beginner, to follow the instructions. In this case I would say wait till the 14 days are up, and test the sg. I would expect it to be about .995 for that kit.

You can then bottle after a further 14 days. Personally I would probably rack off sediment after 14 days, and wait a while longer. A month? Sure. BTW, my experience with Grand Cru whites (mostly Chamblaise rather than Chardonnay) is that they set a LOT of sediment.

Your reading indicates racking out of primary when the sg is between 1.010 and 1.020. You are correct, there are a lot of places that recommend that. However, I think that every time I have racked to carboy at 1.010, the wine has started fermenting more vigourously and wine has come into and perhaps out of the air lock. Not too bad if it's a white, but probably very annoying if a red. Personally, I do not take out of primary until the sg is below 1.005. The Vineco kits that I like to make are usually below 1.000 after 7-8 days of primary at the temperatures that I like. That's perfect for my habits.

As an example, here are the timelines for the last kit that I bottled..

16 Nov started - temperature a bit cool for my liking (problem fixed about a week later)
24 Nov sg 1.010 - wine stirred
28 Nov sg .994 - wine to carboy
16 Dec sg .992 - wine racked to another carboy, additives added, wine degassed
24 Jan wine racked off sediment to another carboy
9 Feb wine filtered into a carboy
10 Feb wine bottled

That's almost three months start to bottling of a four week Ken Ridge Classic Merlot. Now it will sit at least a month before we start drinking it. Oh, and I should say that this was intended to be an early drinker, at least by my standards.

Thanks for the advice. I see you transfer from carboy to carboy a few times. Do you recommend having 2 on hand or could I use my primary ferminter to transfer back into? Would that have too much headroom? Also, do you recommend filtering or just for certain wines? Love this site, thanks guys.
Yep, you can transfer from carboy to primary, clean & sanitize the carboy, and transfer back to the carboy. Leave the wine in the primary for as short a time as possible.

Also some people like to do the stabilizing & clearing steps in the primary because it is easier to stir, and the large surface area facilitates the departure of the CO2.

Personally, I don't like the extra step, so I keep an extra carboy or two around. Currently, I have six glass carboys and three Better Bottles (brand of plastic carboy). I try to make sure that at least one of each is empty. ATM, I'm keeping two glass empty because I'm going to start a beer kit soon, and I always put beer in glass.

Filtering!!!! A very personal decision. Some people say filtering wrecks your wine (removing colour, flavour, whatever). Others say the first group are idiots (OK maybe a little politer than that.) Some folks have had very bad first time filtering experiences. Often, wine sprays every which way because the wine wasn't clear enough and the filter pads got clogged. Personally I filter all of my wines. (OK, I have one right now that I might not filter, but haven't decided for sure).

I filter some, usually not reds but those bulk age in carboys a lot longer with a few more rackings.

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