Winemaking 101 Pt. 4 - 2nd Racking
When we last visited the Red Raspberry wine three weeks ago, it had just gone from the primary into the secondary fermenter. Fermentation has slowed and a layer of lees has formed on the bottom of the jugs, so it's time for the second racking. A hydrometer check shows a reading of 1.009, so there are still some sugars to ferment. Compare this picture to the previous hydrometer pic and you can see the wine is starting to clear.
For information on equipment and terms and Winemaking 101 pts. 1-3, see these previous posts
The second and subsequent rackings are glass-to-glass which is why you always need one more carboy (or other container) than you have wine in progress. After rinsing a clean carboy, my siphoning hoses and racking cane with sulfite solution to sterilize them, I'm ready to start racking.
The full carboy is carefully moved from the spare room to a stool in the kitchen. Get help if you need to, those things are heavy, and you want to jostle it as little as possible so as not to stir up the lees.
Topping up jug with lees
I tilt the jug slightly, fit a tip on the racking cane (see pic here) to keep the intake above the lees layer, and position the cane so the tip is in the deepest part of the wine, taping the siphon hose to the jug to keep the cane from moving. A good suction application starts the flow, and the outlet is positioned close to the bottom of the clean carboy to minimize splashing and aeration. Draw off a sample of wine to check the flavor and color developement. I also check the pH again at this point to see if the acid levels need any adjustment.
pH is a little below optimal but within acceptable range
Watch as the level drops in the original carboy and be prepared to stop the flow when the lees start to move toward the intake. The rest of the wine will be discarded. Move the siphon to your topping up jug and transfer enough wine to fill the new carboy to halfway between the shoulder and neck of the jug.
Transfer the remaining wine in your topping up jug to a smaller container so it too is nearly full, and attach airlocks to the jugs. I thoroughly clean, rinse and dry my jugs after racking and put a sandwich bag secured with a rubber band over the neck so all they need is a quick sanitizing rinse when I need them next time.
At this point I move wine into my basement as the next racking usually won't take place for 3-4 months, unless it throws a lot of additional sediment which calls for an earlier racking. Now the long wait for the wine to stabilize and clarify.