Winemaking 101 Pt. 3 - Racking and Secondary Fermentation
It’s been 6 days since the addition of the yeast to the Red Raspberry wine. The cap has been punched down into the must twice daily, and the latest hydrometer reading of strained must shows an s.g. of 1.040, so it’s time for racking into the secondary fermenter.
(See here for the post on Primary Fermentation)
For information on equipment and terms see these previous posts
Note the cap at the top of the must, and the layer of lees at the bottom of the fermenter. The black object on the right is a carboy drying stand. I make these and have them available if anyone is interested.
I’ve placed the primary fermenter on a stool to give it sufficient height for siphoning. Remember that the end of your racking hose must be lower than the intake end of the racking cane to create a siphon. Be sure to wipe all equipment surfaces that come in contact with your wine with sterilizing solution, and run some through your cane and hose.
I skim the cap off the surface of the must before racking so there are less solids to strain out while siphoning.
My primary contains enough must to rack off six gallons, so I’ve rinsed a cleaned 5 gallon carboy and 1 gallon jug with sulfite solution to sterilize them. The racking cane is placed into the primary, positioned, and held with a spring clip to keep the intake above the layer of lees on the bottom of the fermenter. After siphoning, any remaining wine and lees will be discarded. The siphon hose runs into a funnel with a built-in strainer to remove solids. Depending on the quantity and size of the solids I may put a coarser strainer above the funnel to remove larger debris. A solid application of lung power starts the siphon and the wine begins to flow. A clamp near the exit end of the hose lets you stop the flow so you can clear the solids from your strainers if needed. Put a glass on the floor for the end of the hose to keep the floor clean of drips and the end of the hose low so you don’t break the siphon.
Berry wines don’t foam as vigorously during secondary fermentation so you can fill the jugs to the base of the neck. You want to minimize the amount of airspace in your fermenters from this point, but you'll have to leave more space if you have wines that foam. Once filled, attach a clean and sterile airlock to the jugs. I fill the airlocks with sterilizing solution so that no airborn organisms can grow in the airlock.
Clockwise from upper left: 10 gallons of apple must in primary fermenter, 5 gallons of Concord grape (more airspace was needed in this secondary as Concord foams!), 5 gallons red raspberry, 1 gallon red raspberry.
Be sure to divert a sample for yourself while filling and/or drink the wine you used for the hydrometer reading and note how it has changed since it went into the primary. The sweetness has dropped and the acid gives you a tingle on the tongue. Some effervescence may be present and there will be a noticeable yeast note on the nose; you will taste it in the wine as well. If your fruit was sound and your sanitation good you will not notice any of the sour, funky smells and flavors that indicate problems with the fermentation.
As secondary fermentation continues, more lees will drop to the bottom of the jugs. You will leave this behind on subsequent rackings which is why you have an additional gallon; it will used to "top up" the larger jug when racking to keep the airspace minimized. In three weeks it will be time to rack the wine again.