When to rack? (noob here)

Wine Making Talk

Help Support Wine Making Talk:

teegasus

Junior
Joined
Jan 16, 2021
Messages
7
Reaction score
4
What should be the target S.G. I should aim for before I rack my wine into my secondary fermentation vessel (in my case, to a carboy from a bucket)?

I mean it's been sitting in the primary vessel for 8 days today. Starting gravity was about 1.086 and current specific gravity just now is about 1.020. Airlock is still bubbling pretty good. It's been sitting at 23 degrees Celsius (73,5 F) and I've been gently stirring the wine 1-2 times every day since day one.
This is technically not a kit as I bought all the ingredients separately, and did not include grape skins. So I guess somewhere between 7-10 days in primary is sufficient? Should I rack to secondary today, or should I wait until it's closer to 1.010 S.G.? Is there any benefits to leaving it in the primary for 14 days? Or to leave it until fermentation stops completely?

I've read different things online and get a little confused, but what people seem to agree on is that cheaper kits with no skins should do 5-7 or 7-10 days in primary, whereas more expensive premium kits that include grape skins should stay in primary for 2-3 weeks before being racked to secondary.

I have been using Mangrove Jack's CR51 wine yeast, don't know if that's important to know, but hey... now you know.

I could use some clarification :D

Appreciate the help!
 

salcoco

Veteran Wine Maker
WMT Supporter
Joined
Jan 1, 2007
Messages
2,959
Reaction score
1,264
Location
Kansas
it is not the number of days that dictate when you should rack from primary fermentation but the sg. some winemakers suggest a sg=1020 for racking I have always followed the sg1.00 path. I have no justification for an earlier racking perhaps others do. I always ferment in a bucket regardless if kit or original must and stir once to twice a day. fermentation reaches 1.00 I rack wait three days and rack again off of gross lees. add k-meta at this time. remember the fermentation should be compete at this time. rack again in three weeks off of fine lees then bulk age for clearing etc add in k-meta every three months.
 

Rice_Guy

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2014
Messages
1,629
Reaction score
1,346
Location
Midwest
* patience, wine is very forgiving
* I will routinely rack a wine where I want better aroma (fruit wines) anyplace between 1.010 and 1.020 and then find a cool place to finish it
 

Mike Parisi

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2019
Messages
154
Reaction score
81
Some kits say to rack into a carboy when SG is around 1.02 (Mosti Mondiale, RJS). Other kits say to rack when fermentation is complete (WineXpert). Funny thing about my current WE kit -- the instructions say "Topping up the carboy during the clearing process is not required", which goes against all the recommendations I have seen here. I WILL top it off, though, with same type of wine.
 

teegasus

Junior
Joined
Jan 16, 2021
Messages
7
Reaction score
4
Some kits say to rack into a carboy when SG is around 1.02 (Mosti Mondiale, RJS). Other kits say to rack when fermentation is complete (WineXpert). Funny thing about my current WE kit -- the instructions say "Topping up the carboy during the clearing process is not required", which goes against all the recommendations I have seen here. I WILL top it off, though, with same type of wine.
Yes they all say different things, that is why I’m confused :D And I still am lol. What would YOU do?
But yes, I will also top off with similar type of wine
 

Mike Parisi

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2019
Messages
154
Reaction score
81
I just follow the instructions, being very much a noob myself (just started making wine kits a bit over a year ago). I can definitely see the rationale in racking it before fermentation is completely finished, to make sure you keep some CO2 on top of the wine. So, with no specific instructions to do otherwise, I would rack into the carboy when SG goes to 1.02 or less.
 

Rice_Guy

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2014
Messages
1,629
Reaction score
1,346
Location
Midwest
the general rule is that if it is actively releasing CO2 it is not critical to top off
Funny thing about my current WE kit -- the instructions say "Topping up the carboy during the clearing process is not required", which goes against all the recommendations I have seen here.
Yes they all say different things, that is why I’m confused :D And I still am lol. What would YOU do?
 

Mike Parisi

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2019
Messages
154
Reaction score
81
the general rule is that if it is actively releasing CO2 it is not critical to top off
The WE kit says topping off is not required AFTER the degassing. It wouldn'tstill be actively releasing CO2 then, would it?
 

Handy Turnip

Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2020
Messages
44
Reaction score
33
Location
UK
The WE kit says topping off is not required AFTER the degassing. It wouldn'tstill be actively releasing CO2 then, would it?
I think I read somewhere that because you've added sulphite at the degassing stage then that should be enough to ward off any oxidation until you bottle 2-6 weeks later (depending on the kit), or if you continue to bulk age then at that stage they say you should top up.

Personally I always top up and think it's the sensible thing to do but i think the kit manufacturers are just safe guarding against someone making a mess of topping up (ie using water or a completely different wine) and then blaming it on a poor kit.
 

Mike Parisi

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2019
Messages
154
Reaction score
81
I think I read somewhere that because you've added sulphite at the degassing stage then that should be enough to ward off any oxidation until you bottle 2-6 weeks later (depending on the kit), or if you continue to bulk age then at that stage they say you should top up.

Personally I always top up and think it's the sensible thing to do but i think the kit manufacturers are just safe guarding against someone making a mess of topping up (ie using water or a completely different wine) and then blaming it on a poor kit.
Your thinking is probably spot on. I added the kieselsol today and degassed my Argentine Malbec. Tomorrow will add the Chitosan and top it off with a commercial Argentine Malbec.
 

Rice_Guy

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2014
Messages
1,629
Reaction score
1,346
Location
Midwest
The WE kit says topping off is not required AFTER the degassing. It wouldn'tstill be actively releasing CO2 then, would it?
..If doing a 90 day kit so that I degas and bottle within that week I wouldn't bother to top it off. If I changed the time to a year I would always top off.
..If doing a year long process with several racking as a juice bucket or fruit crush I would always keep the SO2 up and top off at the second racking and usually at first racking.
..If using air excluding technology (ex argon/ head space eliminator/ marbles / floating cover tank/ EVOH wine bag) I would again keep the SO2 up and not worry about topping off.

My experience is if I want over a year of quality shelf life I need to treat head space as a critical factor, ,,, but if only getting ready for a contest four to six weeks out it doesn’t matter.
 

winemaker81

wine dabbler
WMT Supporter
Joined
Nov 5, 2006
Messages
1,356
Reaction score
1,750
Location
Raleigh, NC, USA
@teegasus, your confusion is normal. There are few distinct "this is the only right answer" in wine making. In most situations, the correct answer falls within a range.

First racking is one of the best examples of this. Racking any place between 1.020 and "done" is correct -- the difference is why a given point is chosen.

@Rice_Guy racks fruit wines at 1.020 to preserve aroma. I have racked above 1.020 as my job at that time required travel, and I was certain I'd not be home when I'd normally rack and didn't want fermentation to complete and the wine sit for several days.

A lot of folks rack whites & kits between 1.010 and 1.000. I do this as I want some remaining activity when I transfer to a carboy. I leave head space and ignore the wine for a week after that -- I don't have to check SG each day and the CO2 cushion protects the wine from air in the head space.

OTOH, I ferment red grapes to below 1.000 but before the end of fermentation, to get more skin contact. I like to have a bit of activity as it keeps the cap tightly on top, so I can rack the wine from beneath it. This means less bulk to put in the press.

Some folks ferment until the wine is "done", then rack or press.

Each of these choices is valid and perfectly safe for the wine. I suggest you listen to the different POVs, ask questions if you need more answers, and make your own decision. Remember that what you do with this batch is not what you have to do with future batches. Keep learning and improving!
 

teegasus

Junior
Joined
Jan 16, 2021
Messages
7
Reaction score
4
@teegasus, your confusion is normal. There are few distinct "this is the only right answer" in wine making. In most situations, the correct answer falls within a range.

First racking is one of the best examples of this. Racking any place between 1.020 and "done" is correct -- the difference is why a given point is chosen.

@Rice_Guy racks fruit wines at 1.020 to preserve aroma. I have racked above 1.020 as my job at that time required travel, and I was certain I'd not be home when I'd normally rack and didn't want fermentation to complete and the wine sit for several days.

A lot of folks rack whites & kits between 1.010 and 1.000. I do this as I want some remaining activity when I transfer to a carboy. I leave head space and ignore the wine for a week after that -- I don't have to check SG each day and the CO2 cushion protects the wine from air in the head space.

OTOH, I ferment red grapes to below 1.000 but before the end of fermentation, to get more skin contact. I like to have a bit of activity as it keeps the cap tightly on top, so I can rack the wine from beneath it. This means less bulk to put in the press.

Some folks ferment until the wine is "done", then rack or press.

Each of these choices is valid and perfectly safe for the wine. I suggest you listen to the different POVs, ask questions if you need more answers, and make your own decision. Remember that what you do with this batch is not what you have to do with future batches. Keep learning and improving!
Great answer! Much appreciated. Thank you
 

Latest posts

Top