Racking Your Wine – WMA010

Racking Your Wine – WMA010

http://traffic.libsyn.com/winemakersacademy/wma010.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSRacking Your Wine Racking is simply the process of moving wine from one container to another. There are several different ways you can accomplish this, each of which requires different equipment. In this episode we explore four different ways to rack and the equipment involved. In addition to the nuts and bolts of racking you’ll also learn about why we rack and how to gauge when to rack. Understanding how and when to rack is a key part of making quality wine. Waiting too long to rack or doing it too often can have a negative impact on your finished wine. Questions Answered How long can you keep the wine or age a wine kit? What are the disadvantages of drinking a wine early to make room for my next wine? What are the disadvantages of using beer caps to seal up my wine? Is it ok to store 3-3.5 gallons of wine in a 5 gallon carboy? My carboy bungs popped out. What can cause this? Articles Mentioned in this Episode Blackberry Port Recipe David’s Website Extended Maceration Sur Lie Aging Video on Using a Racking Cane and Tube Wine Making Products Mentioned Racking Cane & Tube Auto Siphon Spigot Impeller Pump Diaphragm Pump (requires air compressor & a regulator) Private Preserve 3 Gallon Carboys: Glass &...

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How to Know When to Rack your Wine

How to Know When to Rack your Wine

There’s a lot of different information out there on when to rack your wine. Largely this is because you rack at different times for different reasons depending upon where you are in the wine making process. The three main times when you rack a wine are: 1. When moving your wine from the primary fermenter to the secondary. 2. When moving your wine from the secondary fermenter to a bulk aging vessel. 3. After fermentation you can rack either for clarity or in and out of oak vessels. Let’s take a look at why and when you rack wines during these different phases. Racking from Primary to Secondary Fermentation Vessels When making wine from fresh fruit you’ll want to rack within seven days or so of pitching your yeast to get off of the gross lees. This is the chunky fruit lees that collects at the bottom of your fermentation vessel. If your wine is left on the gross lees for too long you’ll pick up off flavors and aromas. To avoid this you’ll want to rack 5-7 days after pitching the yeast. When making wine from a kit you’ll usually rack your wine after 7 days or when your specific gravity reaches a specific reading, 1.010 for Winexpert kits. During these first seven days a lot of yeast or fine lees is produced. In general you want to rack off of fine lees once it reaches a thickness of about 1/2 inch (13 mm for my metric friends) on the bottom of your fermenter or carboy. Any thicker than that and the yeast at the bottom can start to decay and produce off flavors and aromas. You may want to consider racking once or twice during a long secondary fermentation. For instance, if you ferment a white wine at cool temperatures your total fermentation time can extend for several months. Keep an eye on that sediment layer and rack if it exceeds 1/2 inch (13 mm). Racking from Secondary Fermentation Vessels to Bulk Aging Vessels The second racking is done when fermentation has wrapped up. You’ll want to get your wine off of the lees and into an aging vessel. Either an oak barrel or carboy. When this racking takes place depends entirely upon when fermentation ends. This could be a week or up to two months after your first racking. Letting your wine sit on the fine lees for more than two months can lead to flavor and aroma contributions from the decaying yeast. This is known as sur lie aging. Post Fermentation Rackings Once your wine is in bulk aging containers, oak or otherwise, your wine may still need to be racked. Normally you rack either to help your wine clear or to get it off the oak so it doesn’t pick up too much oak flavor. When racking for clarity you’ll want to rack every two or three months to avoid sur lie flavors. These aren’t bad, in fact they are desireable in many cases, however, sur lie is not for every type of wine and must be carried out with the utmost care. Don’t...

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Checking the Specific Gravity and Racking

After the primary fermentation has slowed down (after about 7 days) it’s time to check the specific gravity. What this tells us is how the density of the wine compares to that of water. Grape juice is more dense than water. Thus before we fermented the grape juice the specific gravity was over 1.0. As the yeast converted the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide during fermentation, the density of the wine has been decreasing. A specific gravity less than 0.990 tells us that the primary fermentation has slowed down enough that we need to rack. Our main concern is leaving the wine on the dead yeast, or lees, for too long. Wine is sometimes left on the decomposing yeast to impart a nutty flavor, however, you really need to know how to time this right. Left too long and the wine will start to taste like rotting yeast. Check out this video to see all the steps involved in this part of the wine making process. The racking cane can be a bit tricky to get going so I’ve created a separate video all about how to use a racking cane. Hint, you don’t want to use your mouth to get this going! If you found this video helpful please leave your thoughts in the comments...

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Racking off the Lees

Racking off the Lees

Racking is the next step, after the initial more vigorous fermentation. What is racking? Simply put racking is siphoning your wine off of the dead yeast, known as lees, into a clean container. There are two reasons to rack your wine. First it helps clarify your wine but it can also prevent off flavors from the decomposing yeast. Over time yeast and other sediment will precipitate out of your wine and settle to the bottom. The cloudiness will dissipate with each successive racking until you’ve got a nearly clear wine. Nearly because you do sometimes need to fine the last bit of cloudiness out. Getting your wine off of the yeast as it decomposes can prevent off flavors. While some wines are aged on the yeast you really need to know what you’re doing to do this successfully. When to Rack Generally you want rack after the vigorous fermentation has completed. Initially fermentation produces great quantities of gas and is too much for many aging containers such as carboys or barrels. Once this phase is over and much of the yeast has died you would then rack the wine off of the lees and let fermentation continue and its more subdued rate until complete. As sediment collects at the bottom you’ll rack again. Some wine makers rack only once and others will rack four or five times depending upon the flavor profile they’re going for and how clear they want the wine. If, for instance, you’re going to be clearing your wine through fining you don’t have to rack the wine so many times to get it clear. When Not to Rack There are some wines that are aged on the lees and bottled without racking, a process known as sur lie aging. This french term simply means “on the lees”. This process is used on namely Chardonnay, Champagne, and Muscadet. The lees can add nutty, toast, or even hazelnut flavors. Chemically sur lie alters the oak flavor molecules and increases their integration with other molecules. This can tame oak flavors and make them taste like a part of the wine as opposed to an additive. As mentioned earlier you need to know what you’re doing to pull this off. For your first time you might consider splitting your wine and only performing sur lie on a portion of it. Taste your sur lie batch often and err on the side of caution when deciding to bottle. Bottle most of it when you are picking up the additional flavors you are looking for. With a small amount of wine let it sit on the lees and continue tasting to see how long it takes to pick up off flavors. This will give you a good guide line for sur lie wine making in the future. The Light Lees Protocol This “protocol” involves adding fresh yeast back into a completely fermented wine for a period of two to eight weeks. Doing this aids in the releases mannoproteins and poysaccharides into the wine, both of which alter the flavor and mouth feel of the finished product. Light lees is also added...

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