What Is Racking Wine? (Best solution)

The term racking means moving wine from one vessel to another. This can be from tank to barrel, barrel to barrel, and barrel to tank. This separates the wine from the skins, seeds, dead yeast cells, and other particles that settle to the bottom of the tank. Red wine typically goes into a barrel at this racking.

How often to rack wine?

  • 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 you’re going to eventually filter your wine, you don’t need to rack it more than once or twice.

Is racking wine necessary?

Racking is an essential part to making any sound wine. It is a process that, on average, should be performed 2 to 4 times throughout the winemaking process. Doing so in a timely manner will aid in the clarification of the wine and help to inhibit the production of unwanted off-flavors.

When should you rack off wine?

When or How Often Should I Rack? The first racking should occur shortly after pressing the wine. If it is a red wine, pressing will usually be after the primary fermentation is complete. Let the wine settle out for one or two days, then rack off of the thick layer of gross lees.

What is racking in fermentation?

Racking is a term that refers to the transfer of beer from one vessel to another. Although it is used most often to describe the kegging and casking of beer, brewers often refer to “racking” oak-aged beers from barrels into other vessels.

How many times should you rack Mead?

Mead gets smoother and more complex as it ages, so let it. However, you should rack whenever there’s a half inch (1.3 cm) or so of sediment on the bottom. Racking under CO2 if you can is best.

Is it OK to drink wine with sediment?

When sediment, dregs or the little crystals also known as “wine diamonds” appear in the bottom of a glass, they present no danger. Most of the time, sediment in wine is either tartrate crystals (“wine diamonds”) or spent yeast, called lees, which are both natural byproducts. Neither is harmful to your body.

How do you top up wine after racking?

WATER: The most common means of topping up a wine is to simply add water. This is appropriate if your head-space is around a pint or less per 5 gallons of wine. Distilled water is preferred.

How do you siphon wine without disturbing the sediment?

That’s how to siphon when without stirring up sediment. Have someone hold the siphon hose into the top half of the wine as someone else starts the siphon. Always draw your siphon from the upper part of the wine. As you get towards the end, you may want to tilt the container so as to corner the last bit of wine.

What do you add to wine before bottling?

I always recommend that sulfite be added before bottling, as well. This is the dose that keeps the wine fresh and free of oxidation while in the wine bottle. Before fermentation and before bottling are the two times I would never forgo. I also suggest adding sulfites to wine after the fermentation has completed.

What does rack off mean in winemaking?

The term racking means moving wine from one vessel to another. This can be from tank to barrel, barrel to barrel, and barrel to tank. The purpose of this racking is to further clarify the wine by taking the wine out of barrel, cleaning the barrel of the sediment, and then putting the wine back into barrel.

Can you ferment wine twice?

In the case of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (wine yeast) cells, a re-ferment can happen anytime there are yeast present and there is still fermentable sugar present in the wine.

What happens if you leave wine on lees?

As these dead yeast cell (lees) break down, they release all sorts of compounds such as mannoproteins, amino acids, polysaccharides and fatty acids, which interact with the fermented wine. This interaction with the wine creates complexity, aroma and flavor compounds, palate weight and texture in a wine.

How long can I leave wine on lees?

Wines can be aged on lees for a few weeks and months or several years. By law, a non-vintage Champagne must be aged for 15 months in bottle and spend at least 12 months on lees, according to the Comité Champagne.

How do you know when your wine is done fermenting?

It should settle down within a few hours. If the bubbles continue for days, chances are you’ve woken the yeast up and they are happily eating sugars again. If you take successive readings days or weeks apart and they all show the same value, then your wine fermentation is finished.

A Quick Tip For Racking Wine

For starters, many of you may be thinking, “what exactly does racking wine mean?” So let’s get that out of the way first and then go on. Racking wine, in the context of winemaking, is defined as the act of shifting a wine or must from one fermenter to another while leaving the sediment in place. Because you don’t want the wine to rest on large levels of sediment for lengthy periods of time, it’s vital to rack the wine after each usage. It is possible that your wine will develop off-flavors as a result of this.

This occurs because they are attempting to eradicate all of the sediment with each racking, at the risk of losing some wine in the process.

When utilizing this sort of approach, losses can reach up to three or four bottles in a batch of five or six gallons.

For those who are racking wine, here’s a tip: to minimize losses when racking wine, always strive to get as much liquid as possible out of the bottle with each rack, even if some sediment comes along with it.

  • It is important to leave the majority of the silt behind.
  • It is not until the very final racking – which is generally the racking just before bottling – that you will want to remove all of the sediment at the price of a small amount of wine from the wine.
  • Because of this, your wine loss will be low – often less than half a bottle of wine.—– Ed Kraus is a third generation home brewer/winemaker who has been the proprietor of E.
  • Kraus since 1999.
  • For more than 25 years, he has been assisting folks in the production of superior wine and beer.

Wine Making: Racking

When, Why, and How to Rack a Bottle of Wine Racking is a crucial step in the production of any good wine. On average, it should be conducted 2 to 4 times throughout the winemaking process, depending on the kind of grape used. Doing so in a timely manner will aid in the clarity of the wine as well as the prevention of the creation of undesirable off-flavors in the finished product. What Exactly Is Racking? Many amateur winemakers who are new to the pastime are sometimes confused by the word, mistaking it for the meaning of bottling the wine or, worse still, misinterpreting it to indicate that they must somehow seal the wine fermentation vessel to keep the wine fermenting airtight.

  1. It is possible to find some differences on the definition of “racking” from one winemaking book to the next, depending on the author.
  2. The main objective of racking is, as the phrase goes, “to leave the sediment behind.” When Is It Time To Rack?
  3. For a variety of reasons, now is the best moment to acquire a must-have item.
  4. And, in any case, this typically entails transferring the must to another container.
  5. Due to a decreased activity of the wine yeast, the must becomes less capable of providing adequate defenses against the continual and long-term dangers provided by outside pollutants.
  6. For the second time, it is normally during this slowing phase that you will discover that around 70 to 80 percent of the silt has already been deposited.
  7. In this case, racking the wine between the 5th and 7th day after harvest is a smart option from a timing aspect, as this is the best time to get the majority of the sediment out of the way.

It is important to remove the pulp from the must at this point if you are working with fresh fruits rather than bottled juices.

THE SECOND RACKING: The second racking should be carried out once the fermentation activity has been completed.

It all boils down to how quickly your fermentation has progressed so far.

It will take more time for the must to become entirely evident at this point.

For the second time, it is an excellent moment to strain the sediment from the wine.

OTHER RACKINGS INCLUDE: It may be necessary to do additional rackings in specific circumstances, such as when bulk-aging a heavy red wine, to name just one.

Because of any instabilities that may present in the wine, sediment might form throughout the course of this storage period.

This would necessitate two rackings: one prior to treating the wine and another after the benefits of the fining or clarifying procedure have been fully realized, as described above.

Furthermore, the extra perturbations might have a detrimental impact on the wine’s quality by causing excessive oxidation and/or overall degradation of the wine’s aroma and flavor.

Why Is Racking Necessary in the First Place?

In most cases, with the exception of a small amount of solids that may have sunk from the fruit, sediment is the consequence of dead or inactive yeast cells that have fallen out of the must.

The majority of what you see at the bottom of the fermenter is made up of dead yeast cells that have been passed down from generation to generation.

Once all of the sugars have been devoured, this active group of yeast will begin a process that can only be characterized as cannibalization in order to survive.

This is done in order for the nutrients contained inside the dead yeast to be released and absorbed by the still-active yeast.

If allowed to run its course over an extended period of time-weeks rather than days-this process can develop off-flavors in wine that vary from bitter to rubbery to metallic.

The result, if no rackings were done, would be a container of wine that was clear on top but had a thick, foggy layer at the bottom, as seen in the image below.

This would be in addition to the heavy layer of silt that would be deposited on the bottom and remain there indefinitely.

You just begin a siphoning operation.

It’s important to siphon the must “quietly,” as I like to say in this context.

In addition to moving about and drawing from areas you don’t want it to, a hose will draw from places you don’t want it to, such as the sediment.

This is why many people choose to use a Racking Tube at the end of their line rather than a hose clamp.

It functions like a wand, allowing you to direct your attention on the location where you are drawing from within the container.

Starting the siphon can be accomplished by sucking on the end of the hose in the traditional manner.

The Automatic Siphon, on the other hand, is a viable alternative to this method of extraction.

It combines the functions of a Racking Tube with a priming pump.

Pump the Auto Siphon up and down one time slowly, similar to how you would a bicycle pump, and your siphon will be activated.

Take as much of the liquid as you can, even if part of the sediment comes along with it, and discard the rest.

Using this method of racking your wine, you will experience reduced wine loss while maintaining the same level of quality.

Air that may have been added to the wine during the racking process will be driven out by the sulfite fumes emitted by these items.

This is not a problem during a fermentation process.

NOTE: Sulfites should not be added to a fermentation that is already underway.

It has the potential to completely halt the fermentation process.

You should also have a look at our wine transfer pump, wine bottle filler, wine siphoning hose, and other wine siphoning related equipment.

Ed Kraus is a third generation home brewer/winemaker who has been the proprietor of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He grew up in a family of home brewers and winemakers. For more than 25 years, he has been assisting folks in the production of superior wine and beer.

Ask the Winemaker – What is “Racking?” — Burnt Bridge Cellars

Burnt Bridge Cellars’ winemaker, Ben Stuart, shares his thoughts. Q: What exactly is “Racking?” In its most basic meaning, “racking” refers to the movement of wine from one vessel to another in a controlled environment. Alternatively, as in our little winery’s case, wine is transferred from barrel to barrel. All of the 2015 vintage wines will be racked this week, so stay tuned. The procedure is quite straightforward. We make use of a device known as a “bulldog,” which pumps inert gas into the barrel in order to force the clear wine out and into a tank.

  • This is about as mild a method of racking as it is possible to achieve.
  • Sometimes, if the wine is allowed to mature on these solids for an extended amount of time, it might result in cloudiness and odd tastes.
  • And it is for this reason that there are so many various racking processes used at different vineyards.
  • I like to rack once, around 8 months after harvest, and then taste every barrel every month to maintain tabs on the aging process over the next 14 months until bottling.
  • And I believe it provides us all the freedom we need to produce the greatest wine possible.
  • You could even be eligible to win a prize if we utilize your question.
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Racking – Wikipedia

Filtering and refining are all processes that involve moving wine or beer from one container to another using gravity rather than a pump, which can be disruptive to the beverage. Racking is also referred to asSoutirageorSoutirage traditionnel(meaning traditional racking in French), as well as filtering and refining. The procedure is also known as abstichin in German and travasoin in Italian, among other names. “Racking” is defined as “siphoning wine or beer off the lees (in the case of wine) or trub (in the case of beer) and into a fresh, clean barrel or other vessel,” according to Alexis Lichine’s Encyclopedia of Wines and Spirits.

When wine is left to age on the lees for an extended period of time, it frequently acquires “off-tastes.” It is necessary to utilize a racking hose or tube, which may be coupled to a racking cane to make the process simpler.

Throughout the maturing period of wine, the racking step is performed multiple times.


Racking, also known as soutirage, is a traditional method of transporting wine from one barrel to another in the winemaking industry that relies on gravity rather than a pump. When the barrels are brought to the second-year basement, the procedure is repeated. When electricity was not available to operate pumps, the Soutirage system was established in the Bordeaux area of France in the nineteenth century. Many estates, such as those in Bordeaux and certain estates in Pomerol and St. Emilion, continue to use this labor-intensive style of wine production.

This procedure softens tannins, clarifies the wine, and increases the aromatic aspects of the wine.

This aids in the clarification and freshening of the wine by eliminating the fine lees or sediment that accumulates during the fermentation process.

It is also possible to “fine” (collage) the wine by settling out particles in suspension with the use of egg white or other ingredients, which are subsequently removed by further racking.” During the procedure, egg white is frequently put to the inside of each barrel.


In the wine and beer industry, racking hoses are flexible plastic hoses that are used to transfer wine or beer from one vessel to another. It is employed in both the racking and bottling processes of a company. Racked tubes are rigid tubes that are commonly bent or “L” shaped and that are attached to the racking hose in order to make racking simpler. A protective cap is put over the lower end of the cane, allowing liquid to be sucked into the cane from above rather than below while blocking the majority of big solids from entering the cane.

The bottom point of the racking cane should be held approximately halfway between the surface and the lees at first, and then gradually lowered as the volume of the wine drops as a result of the siphoning.

See also

  • It is possible to siphon wine or beer from one vessel to another with the aid of a racking hose, which is made of flexible plastic and can be bent. Racking and bottling procedures both make use of this product. In order to make racking simpler, a racking cane is a rigid tube that is bent or “L”-shaped and linked to the racking tube. On the bottom end of the cane, a protective cover is installed, which allows liquid to be sucked into the cane from above rather than below, while also keeping big solids out of the cane. The cap permits the cane’s tip to be lowered close to the lees without causing undue disturbance to them. Because of the siphoning, it is necessary to start by holding the bottom point of the cane approximately halfway between the surface and the lees and progressively lower it as the volume drops as a result.


Wikimedia Commons has media related toSoutirage.
  • The authors, Jacques Blouin and Émile Peynaud, discuss their work (13 June 2012). The fifth edition of Connaissance et Travail du Vin is now available. Dunod.ISBN978-2-10-058330-0

The Basics Of Racking Wine

Anyone who has been involved in the pastime for a while has probably seen the directions, which state something along the lines of “Siphon wine into a jar for maturing,” or something similar. However, many racking secrets and techniques are kept under wraps. Racking wine is, at its core, a straightforward procedure, but it may be done incorrectly and have a severe influence on the quality of your wine. So, today, we’re going to go over some fundamental principles of transferring your wine, as well as some methods you may optimize your process in order to make better wine.

Ways To The Means

Gravity will be used to transfer the wine from one vessel to another, or an external force will be used to either push or pull the wine into the receiving vessel. Home winemakers will transfer their wines using either gravity or an external force. The first obstacle to overcome throughout the transfer procedure is priming the line (by filling it with wine) in order to get the process started. When you place your fermenter’s spigot towards the bottom, it makes it possible to transfer the liquid using a simple siphon tube, which will self prime with the assistance of gravity.

  • The priming agent in this case is the water in the tube.
  • In order to begin priming the wine, the auto-siphon requires the winemaker to simply draw the wine up into what seems to be a large syringe-like tube.
  • This is how you produce a prime.
  • Pumps are used for a variety of applications in the business sector, including impeller pumps, lobe pumps, vane pumps, progressive cavity pumps, and other types of reciprocating pumps.
  • Because they’re self-priming, they’re also gentle on the wine throughout transport.

Using pressurized CO2 to move wine from one vessel to another is another mechanical method of moving wine, however this is not a frequent practice in the wine industry.

When To Transfer

For a variety of reasons, wine is frequently racked several times early in its life span. Users of wine kits should make every effort to adhere to the transfer instructions provided in their kits. In the case of winemakers who use frozen must or juice, the initial racking will not take place until after primary fermentation has completed. If you are making wine from fresh grapes, the initial racking will most likely take place after the juice has been squeezed from the grapes and the undesired particles (gross lees) have had time to settle to the bottom of the barrel.

After the fine lees have settled and a fining agent has been added, it is common practice to rack the wine one more time before bottling.

Racking Strategies

For the most part, winemakers like to use what I refer to as a silent rack, which means that the tube in the receiving vessel is buried in the wine as soon as there is enough liquid to allow it to do so. The oxygen uptake that happens during the racking process is reduced as a result of this. A non-reactive gas such as argon or carbon dioxide might be used to “purge” the receiving vessel in order to ensure that the wine only comes into contact with oxygen to the greatest extent possible. This would only be necessary for more delicate wines, such as whites and rosés, which are more delicate in nature.

The introduction of oxygen during the splash racking process can aid in the binding of tannins, allowing them to elongate and finally fall out of solution, resulting in a smoother character for the wine.

To execute a splash rack, just remove the tubing from below the liquid level of the vessel, allowing the wine to mingle with the oxygen present in the vessel’s surrounding air.

Other Tips for Racking

It is recommended that anyone planning to make more than 5-gallon (19-L) batches or who suffers from lower back pain use one of the two popular alternatives. Moving from a gravity-fed to a pump-driven racking system, such as the ones detailed earlier in this column, is the first step in this process. The alternative to this, on the other hand, is the development of a hoist system. In addition to a safe ratchet and electric winch, these mechanical lift systems can be operated by other mechanical lift systems.

Remember from math class that the area of a circle rises exponentially as the radius of the circle increases: A = r 2 is equal to A.

While this might result in significantly quicker transfers, it can also result in significantly higher turbulence and the possibility of oxygen penetration if not handled appropriately. These are only a few things to think about.

How Often Should You Rack Your Wine

Transferring wine from one container to another while leaving behind any sediment or “lees” is referred to as racking in wine terminology. What is the purpose of corking your wine? Over time, fruit particles and dead yeast cells will drop out of the wine and accumulate at the bottom of your container, making it difficult to clean. This layer will be extremely thick and bothersome during the first few days following the pressing of a bottle of wine. The gross lees are the thick layer of yeast and fruit crud that forms at the beginning of the fermentation process, whereas the fine lees are the finer sediment that forms later on.

  • However, there is a question.
  • Equipment for Stacking and Organizing There is no need for specialized equipment here.
  • A 5/16″ tube will stretch beautifully over a 3/8″ cane, with almost little chance of the tube coming off or seeping into your hands or clothing.
  • Because of the thin walls and bigger interior diameter, this size is suitable for most home winemaking transfers and will move a bit more quickly than the plastic canes.
  • Canes with a wider diameter can be used for bigger transfers, such as from barrel to barrel.
  • A wine that has been allowed to sit on a stagnant, thick layer of lees for an extended period of time might develop major difficulties with the wine.
  • Any nutrients that remain in the wine after fermentation can be used by hostile bacteria and yeasts to feed on the wine’s residual nutrients.

A little long-term lees interaction is nice every now and again, but only with fine lees, not with the gross lees.

Because there will be so little for disgusting lees if you are constructing a kit, you will be able to rack for quite some time.

What Happens if I Rack Too Many Times in a Row?

Each time you rack the wine, a little amount of oxygen is absorbed, which has the potential to react with the volatile fragrance molecules in the wine.

This helps to avoid things like VA (Vinegar), unpleasant aldehydes, and ethyl acetate from forming in the first place (acetone smell).

I’ve seen a lot of rookie winemakers rack their wines five, six, or seven times in order to “improve” them, but I’ve found that doing so excessively typically has the opposite effect.

The initial racking should take place immediately after the wine has been pressed.

Allow the wine to rest for one or two days before racking it off of the heavy layer of foul lees that has formed.

After pressing but before fermentation, the first racking will take place if you are making white wine or rose wine.

It is preferable if you can isolate some of this information.

Take all you can get your hands on, but don’t go overboard with it at this time.

The second racking should take place when the lees have accumulated to an uncomfortably high level once more.

The presence of a layer of over one inch thick is a serious problem.

Every once in a while, give it a gentle spin to agitate the lees and gain a better sense of the condition.

Occasionally swirl the lees once or twice a week if they get slightly unpleasant before the malolactic fermentation is done.

Once the malolactic fermentation is complete and the lees have begun to accumulate once more, it is time to rack the wine and treat it with SO2 to ensure that it will survive the forthcoming age period in good condition.

Once the racking has been completed, it is a good opportunity to incorporate any oak goods such as cubes, staves, or spirals.

The second racking of a white wine is usually done after the fermentation process has finished and the wine has been allowed to settle for around two days.

It is recommended that the third and final racking take place at the time of bottling.

At this point, the wine should be clear with no discernible haze or off-flavors present.

After the wine has been racked off of the leftover lees, it will be blended in a temporary vessel such as a bucket or carboy.

This is also the stage at which any final blending takes place.

For off-dry white or rose wines, I will do the sweetening and stabilizing now, assuming I am creating a dry white or rose wine.

There are several exceptions to this rule that might necessitate additional racking at some point along the road, though.

If you are experiencing reductive or marshy odours, you may try to splash rack the wine to allow for a bit more air to enter the bottle.

You’re probably aware of what they say.

As a general rule, avoid racking unless you have a compelling cause to do so.

If you have equipment that doesn’t require cleaning, use a no rinse sanitizer, such as Star Sanifracking.

Remember to top up your container whenever you relocate to a new location.

You may use a prior vintage of a comparable wine, or you can use a similar wine from a store that is close in taste. There you have it, the racking procedure is complete. Check out my YouTube channel, The Home Winemaking Channel, for additional information on this topic.

Read Next: My Favorite Winemaking Accessories

Rackingwine, redwine, whitewine, cider, hardcider, and winemaking are all terms used in the winemaking industry.

Racking off the Lees

After the first more strong fermentation, the next step is to rack the product. What exactly is racking? Racking is simply the process of transferring your wine away from the dead yeast, also known as lees, and into a new container. There are two main reasons to rack your wine: first, it is a waste of space. First and foremost, it aids in the clarification of your wine, but it can also help avoid off tastes from the decomposing yeast. Yeast and other sediment will precipitate out of your wine over time and settle to the bottom of your bottle.

  • Almost, but you do occasionally need to fine-tune the last speck of cloudiness out of the picture.
  • Despite the fact that some wines are matured on the yeast, in order to do it well, you really need to know what you’re doing.
  • In most cases, you want to rack once the aggressive fermentation process is complete.
  • Once this phase is complete and the majority of the yeast has died, you would rack the wine off of the lees and let fermentation to proceed at a more moderate rate until the wine was completely fermented.
  • According on the flavor profile they’re aiming for and how clear they want the wine to be, some winemakers will rack only once, while others will rack four or five times, depending on their preferences.
  • When It Is Not Necessary to Rack A procedure known as sur lie aging is used to mature some wines on the lees before bottling them without racking them back into the barrel.
  • The lees can impart tastes like as nutty, toasty, and even hazelnut.
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This can help to soften oak tastes and make them taste more like a natural component of the wine rather than an added.

It is possible that you will only execute sur lie on a fraction of your wine if you are executing sur lie for the first time.

When you’re out picking up the extra flavors you’re seeking for, bottle up the majority of it.

This will serve as a solid guideline for future sur lie wine production for you to follow.

This “protocol” entails introducing new yeast to a totally fermented wine for a period of two to eight weeks after it has been entirely fermented.

A little amount of light lees is also added to help in the process of malolactic fermentation.

Wine is exposed to oxygen when it is racked.

This is one of the reasons why many people prefer to rack their wine only once or twice and then use a fining agent to clear it rather than racking it four or five times and risking all of that oxygen exposure.

A small amount of wine will be left over since you don’t want to siphon the lees into your clean container.

You might use a prior vintage, commercial wine, or sterilized marbles for small batches if you want to save money.

Investigate the yeasts and grape varietals that perform well in sur lie wine production.

This is a way of winemaking that is a little more sophisticated. Be cautious and consult with winemakers who have extensive expertise. Obviously, you don’t want to spoil hundreds of liters of wine! To return to the wine-making process, please click here. Tim Patterson captured this image.

How to Know When to Rack your Wine

After the first more robust fermentation, the next stage is to rack the beer. Racking is defined as follows: Racking is simply the process of transferring your wine away from the dead yeast, also known as lees, and into a new container after fermentation. The decision to rack your wine is based on two considerations. While it helps clarify your wine, it can also help prevent off tastes caused by the decomposing yeast from developing. Yeast and other sediment will precipitate out of your wine over time and settle to the bottom of the bottle or barrel.

  1. On the verge of becoming true, since there are moments when you need to fine the last trace of cloudiness out.
  2. Despite the fact that some wines may be matured on the yeast, doing so properly requires a great deal of expertise.
  3. Most of the time, you want to rack after the intense fermentation process is over.
  4. Once this phase is complete and the majority of the yeast has died, you would rack the wine off of the lees and let fermentation to proceed at a more moderate rate until the wine was completely fermented and finished.
  5. According on the flavor profile they are aiming for and how clear they want the wine to be, some winemakers rack only once, while others rack four or five times.
  6. The Situations in Which You Should Not Rack It is possible to age certain wines sur lie, which means that they are not racked after they have been fermented on the lees.
  7. Lees may impart tastes such as nutty, toasty, and even hazelnut.

As a result, oak tastes may be tamed and made to taste more like a natural component of the wine rather than an added.

If this is your first time doing sur lie, you might want to consider separating the wine and only performing sur lie on a section of the bottle instead.

When you’re out picking up the additional flavors you’re looking for, save the majority of it for later use.

The results of this will serve as an excellent guideline for future sur lie wine production.

In this “protocol,” new yeast is added back into a fully fermented wine over a period of two to eight weeks, depending on the wine.

Also included is a little amount of light lees to help in the process of malolactic fermentation.

Wine is exposed to oxygen when it is stacked on racking.

This is one of the reasons why many people prefer to rack their wine only once or twice and then use a fining agent to clear it rather than racking it four or five times and risking all of that exposure to air.

A small amount of wine will be left behind since you do not want to siphon the lees into your clean container.




Talk to a seasoned winemaker before making a decision. Wine is expensive, and the last thing you want to do is waste it. To return to the wine-making process, please click on the following link: Tim Patterson took this photograph of the subject matter.

Racking from Primary to Secondary Fermentation Vessels

It is best to rack your wine within seven days or so of pitching your yeast in order to get rid of the nasty lees when making wine from freshly picked fruit. This is the chunky fruit lees that gathers at the bottom of your fermentation vessel throughout the fermentation process of your beer. If your wine is kept on the gross lees for an extended period of time, it will develop off tastes and smells. In order to avoid this, you should rack the yeast 5-7 days after it has been pitched. When creating wine from a kit, you’ll normally rack your wine after 7 days or when your specific gravity hits a specified number, such as 1.010 for Winexpert kits, depending on the manufacturer.

In general, you want to rack off fine lees when they reach a thickness of approximately 1/2 inch (13 mm for my metric friends) on the bottom of your fermenter or carboy, which is about halfway through the fermentation process.

Once or again during a long secondary fermentation, you may want to try racking the fermenting vessel.

Continue to monitor the sediment layer and rack if it surpasses 1/2 inch in depth (13 mm).

Racking from Secondary Fermentation Vessels to Bulk Aging Vessels

The second racking is completed once the fermentation process is complete. You’ll want to move your wine off the lees and into an aging vessel as soon as possible. Either a wood barrel or a carboy will suffice. When this racking takes place is totally dependent on when fermentation comes to a finish. This might happen within a week or it could take up to two months after your initial racking. It is possible to get flavor and aroma contributions from the decaying yeast if you let your wine sit on the fine lees for more than two months.

Post Fermentation Racking

Once your wine has been placed in bulk maturing containers, whether oak or otherwise, it may still be necessary to rack the wine. Normally, you rack your wine either to aid in the clarification of the wine or to remove it from the oak so that it does not pick up too much oak flavor. Racking for clarity should be done every two or three months to avoid the development of sur lie flavors. Sur lie is not for every sort of wine, and it must be done with extreme caution.

Don’t Over Do It

While racking is good for clarifying a wine and preventing it from taking on off tastes, it is not recommended to rack a wine for any longer than is strictly required. Each time you rack your wine, you are exposing it to a small amount of oxygen, which will speed up the aging process. When you rack your wine, you run the danger of exposing your wine to stray microorganisms in addition to air.

If a piece of equipment hasn’t been properly sterilized, you might be exposing your wine to spoilage organisms while you’re making it. Sanitizing is time-consuming job, and we may occasionally overlook a place or two.


As you can see, the timing of when you rack a wine is dependent on where you are in the process and why you are doing it. What is offered here is just intended to serve as a guideline. Consider the site, the flavor, and the criteria described above when evaluating your wine. Time on the lees, for example, should be taken into consideration. If you know when to rack your wine, you’ll be able to prevent it from overoxidizing and being exposed to yeast that is degrading in the bottle. Both will assist you in producing a superior bottle of wine.

  • Never leave your wine on the fruit lees for more than seven days unless you are familiar with the techniques for performing a lengthy maceration or cold soak.
  • After two months or when there is 1/2 inch (13 mm) of sediment on the fine lees, it is time to rack your wine off the fine lees.
  • Remove the wood containers from the oven after the appropriate amount of oak tastes has been attained.
  • Use these principles as a starting point, but ultimately rely on your senses to make the final decision.

What is Racking?

Posted on March 25, 2020 by the Parrish Team Cody Alt, our Assistant Winemaker, is beginning the racking process for our 2019 wines this week, which will take him from the vineyard to the winery. The quality of our wines is greatly enhanced by the use of racks. In the winemaking process, it occurs when some of the wasted lees (dead yeast) separates from the solution (wine) and no longer contributes to the final product. As part of our winemaking process, our wines are normally racked three times before being bottled before being sold.

  • Cody is currently racking the 2019 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, which involves moving the wine from one barrel to another in order to “rack off the lees” of the wine.
  • It’s easier to see because it gets foggy instead of clear.
  • All of the clear wine is what will be preserved and finally completed into our final wine.
  • To see Cody describe and demonstrate racking, please visit this page.
  • Simply post a question on our Facebook or Instagram pages.

How to Rack Wine

Documentation Download Documentation Download Documentation In Burgundy, racking wine is the act of separating fresh wine from its sediment and transporting it from one vessel to another with the use of basic equipment and gravity, as opposed to more complicated methods. It is more delicate to rack wine than it is to use an electric siphon or a pump, which might cause the sediment to be disturbed. In certain cases, you may need to rack your wine numerous times throughout the fermentation process and soon afterwards, depending on the type of wine you’re making.

In order to execute the task properly, you need learn how and when to rack your wine to ensure that the procedure runs as smoothly as possible.

  1. 1 Obtain the necessary equipment for racking your wine. In order to rack wine, you’ll need a few simple instruments, the majority of which should come included with your home wine-making kit or can be purchased at any home-brewing supplier. To correctly rack wine, you’ll need the following items:
  • At least two carboys or buckets that have been sterilized
  • A siphon tube is a tube that is used to draw water. A wine bottle with an air-lock lid
  • Sterilize your siphon tube with meta solution in step 2. A combination of potassium metabisulfite or sodium metabisulfite that has been diluted in water is referred to as “meta solution” in the industry. These are available commercially, or they may be made at home with a few simple ingredients. It is often necessary to distill approximately one tablespoon of meta solution in approximately one gallon of water.
  • It is also necessary to sanitize anything that will come into contact with the wine, which is commonly accomplished by swirling some of the solution in the bucket or through the tube and then depositing it in an appropriate location. Because Meta-solution is quite harsh, it is recommended that you use it in a well-ventilated environment and that you wear protective clothing and gloves when handling it. Take care to read and follow the instructions on the packaging.
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  • s3 Place the bottle of wine you desire to rack on an elevated place to prevent it from falling over. Open the container containing the wine with the sediment and set it on an elevated surface to allow the wine to breathe. Based on how much wine you plan to make, you may require a substantial amount of room, or you may only require a tabletop and the floor of your kitchen. In order for the wine to siphon properly, make sure the siphon tube is long enough to reach where you want to siphon it.
  • Because gravity is involved in the procedure, it is absolutely necessary that the full carboy of wine be higher than the highest piece of the clean receptacle you’re going to use to collect the wine, or else the process will not work
  • Otherwise, the method will not function.
  • 4 Place the siphon into the carboy and tighten it. Insert the notched end of the siphon tube into the carboy, being careful not to contact any of the sediment that has accumulated on the bottom. By the time you’re ready to rack the wine, you should be able to see the line of sediment pretty clearly, and it should be substantially darker and cloudier at the bottom of the wine as it gets closer to the bottom. Maintain at least an inch or two above the sediment line by allowing the tube to sink into the wine for the majority of the way.
  • Incorporate the other end of the siphon into a clean container or leave it hanging above the receptacle. Because you’ll have to get it started fast and then insert it into the receptacle, double-check that the tube is long enough to reach inside.
  • 5 Begin siphoning the wine from the bottle. There isn’t much science to it: start sucking on the other end of the tube as if you were sipping from a straw until the wine starts to flow, then get the tube into the clean vessel as fast as possible once it starts to flow. The ability to accomplish this without getting a mouthful of wine or spilling it needs a little effort. But, well, a gulp of wine. It’s not the worst
  • It’s just not the best.
  • When the wine begins to flow, put the tube into the receptacle as soon as possible while attempting to keep the flow “quiet.” Continue to keep a tight watch on the sediment, making sure that you don’t disturb it up or that either of the tubes doesn’t splash around, allowing a lot of oxygen to enter the wine. If you see that the second carboy is nearly filled or that sediment begins to pour, clamp the hose to stop the flow of wine and shut it off.
  • 6 Accept responsibility for your mistakes. Winemaking is as much an art as it is a science, and you will undoubtedly lose some wine in the course of the process. When have you had enough of your money taken away? You’ll be primarily relying on your own judgment and eyeballing the situation. It’s all part of the job description
  • Not to worry about attempting to skim exactly over the top of the sediment and extract as much wine as possible while also removing as much sediment as feasible. If you’re producing wine from scratch, there will be a little bit of sediment left over at the conclusion of the process.
  1. 7An airlock should be placed on the newly filled carboy. Once you’ve transferred the wine to the new vessel, attach the airlock to the top of the vessel, which should be screwed on tightly and then clamped down. Different airlocks will function in different ways, so it’s critical to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. The majority of them will just require that they be connected straight into the aperture in the carboy itself. Advertisement
  1. 1 Always rack your wine whenever it has to be moved. Most of the time, while moving wine from the main fermenter to the secondary vessel or when moving wine from the secondary fermenter to a bulk aging vessel, winemakers will rack the wine using the racking procedure. After fermentation is complete, wine is frequently racked to aid in the clarification of the wine and the removal of some of the sediment. The procedure and vigor with which you rack your wine will be heavily influenced by the sort of wine you’re creating as well as your own particular preferences as a wine drinker.
  • There are some winemakers that rack their wines only once, while others rack their wines four or five times, depending on the taste profile they are aiming for and how clear they want the wine to be
  • If you want to filter your wine at some point, you won’t need to rack it more than once or twice.
  • 2 After 5-7 days, begin the first racking session. The batch will need to be transferred to a carboy with an airlock by the time it has fermented for a week, which means it will need to be transferred from the first vessel anyway, so now is a good time to rack it and transfer it to an appropriate secondary fermentation vessel that is equipped with an airlock.
  • Make sure not to rack your wine too soon after it has been opened. A huge amount of gas is produced during the fermentation process, which can be hazardous to carboys and barrels alike if the process is very active. Most carboys are protected by having an airlock installed, which allows gasses to leave while keeping outside oxygen, germs, and bacteria from getting in
  • This is common practice.
  • 3 When fermentation is complete, rack the container. The second racking takes place when the wine has finished fermenting, which might be a few days or as long as a month after the first racking. Most of the time, this racking is required to remove as much of the wasted yeast as possible, since it should have settled sufficiently and is no longer interfering with the fermentation process.
  • As the yeast becomes less active after a week of fermentation, it becomes less aggressive in defending itself from pollutants, necessitating the need to air-lock the fermentation vessel. Generally speaking, the less sediment that gets in through this first phase, the better. Even at this early stage of the process, as much as 80 percent of the sediment, as well as residual pulp from the must, will already be in place.
  • 4 Remove the cork from the wine once again. The majority of wines are racked no more than three times and no less than three times. It is recommended that the third racking be accomplished when the wine has entirely cleaned up, and that the final racking be done solely for the purpose of removing sediment and clarifying the wine.
  • Some winemakers may choose to rack wine a second time if the end product must be extremely clean and clear in order to fulfill the style and variety requirements. To obtain the cleanest wine possible, some winemakers may rack the wine numerous additional times. Unless you’re adding sulfites to the wine or intending to filter it before bottling it, you don’t need to rack it much longer.
  • 5 Do not rack every bottle of wine. While red wines are generally racked after fermentation, certain white wines do not require racking and are instead bottled “on the lee,” also known as sur lie aging. The traditional method of bottling Chardonnay, Champagne, and Muscadet is on the lees, which some winemakers believe aids in the alteration and integration of the natural oakiness of the wine.
  • Creating white wine and experimenting with bottling on the lee requires frequent tasting of the batch and bottling of the majority of it when it tastes correct to avoid spoiling
  • However, making red wine and experimenting with bottling on the lee does not require frequent tasting.
  1. Choose fewer rackings than you think you’ll need. Racking wine exposes it to a large amount of oxygen, which speeds up the aging process while also increasing the likelihood of germs and bacteria becoming a problem for the wine. Because the sanitization procedure is a time-consuming operation that is prone to human mistake, it is preferable to rack the wine less often. Less is more in this case. Advertisement
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Create a new question

  • Question It’s not uncommon for me to have wine in my airlock. In fact, it is not typical
  • Question When the wine is in the first carboy, I receive a burp out of the airlock between 5 and 8 minutes after starting the fermentation. Is this usual behavior? Because of the fermentation process, carbon dioxide has been released. Because the yeast is still active, everything is OK. Question After the first racking, the carboy is not quite as full as I had anticipated. To lower the surface area of the wine in the carboy, should the wine be topped off with a similar-flavored wine or with water, if possible. You may also add sterilized marbles, which will help to fill in part of the remaining headspace after racking
  • Question In order to fill the carboy to the neck with airlock, I filled the area with a suitable store-bought wine when I initially started racking. It is important to repeat this procedure when I rack for the second time. According to what I’ve heard, some winemakers utilize glass marbles to use up part of the airspace in their bottles, so avoiding the introduction of undesirable tastes into their wine. Remember to disinfect them first before adding them to your carboy
  • Question Is it necessary to fill the carboy to the brim, or is it acceptable if there is a space between the wine and the cork? When bottling or starting the fermentation process, it’s a good idea to allow some space in the bottle for expansion. It will expand dramatically depending on the temperature, and when fermenting, it will produce a large amount of bubbles
  • It was time for secondary fermentation, and the yeast in my wine was quite active. Because the carboy had been destroyed, I had to move the wine to a new carboy. The yeast had ceased to function. What should I do in this situation? It’s possible that you’re dealing with a stalled fermentation, in which case you should add additional yeast and maybe more yeast nutrition. Question Is it better to rack free flow juice into carboys before pressing the solids, or is it better to pour all of the juice from pressing into carboys then rack a week after that? It is all up to you. Some individuals like to retain the free flow juice separate from the pressed juice, and then blend the two together later for a more flavorful result. The quickest way to get started is generally just to combine everything together while pressing the must
  • This is especially true if you are new to winemaking. Question Is the procedure of manufacturing mead similar enough to that of making wine that it may be used interchangeably? Yes. It all comes down to allowing the yeast to consume the carbohydrates in whatever you’re attempting to ferment. In the case of wine, the grape juice is used, but in the case of mead, the honey sugars are used. Question What is the best way to tell whether I need to rack my wine? If you wait 5-7 days after pitching the yeast, you’ll be able to tell when it’s time to rack your wine.

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  • Carboys must have an airlock installed, else CO 2 will build up and cause the carboy to explode.


Things You’ll Need

Summary of the ArticleXTo rack wine, first sanitize your siphon tube with meta solution. Next, position the carboy on an elevated platform and insert one end of the siphon into the carboy, being careful not to touch any of the sediment on the bottom of the container. Incorporate the other end of your siphon into a clean, empty carboy and allow the wine to pass from the old to the new carboy. Finally, secure an airlock to the newly filled carboy to finish the racking operation. For ideas on when to rack your wine and how often, read on!

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At this point in the fermentation process, there is significantly less activity from the yeast, and they are releasing less CO2, which forms a protective barrier on the surface of the wine. This is why it is common to transfer a wine from a fermenting bucket into a demijohn. By transferring the wine to a demi john, we are able to attach a bung and an airlock. The airlock is a device that is filled with water that allows carbon dioxide to escape from the carboy or demijohn but does not allow any other air to pass through it.

Wine can sit in a carboy or demijohn for several months while the yeast complete their activities and begin to sink to the bottom of the carboy or demijohn, which is called “settling.” As a result of this, we rack the wine into a fresh, clean container for additional clarification.

Even before a glass of hazy wine is placed in front of a guest or a friend’s lips, they will have formed preconceived notions about it.

Racking A Wine

It is common for a large amount of yeast to be suspended in a wine throughout the fermentation process, as well as other debris from the fruit, as well as insoluble salts and chemicals. During the fermenting process, this material contributes to the foggy look of our wine. These yeast cells will begin to die and drop to the bottom of the demijohn or carboy as fermentation slows and eventually comes to a stop. With time, a layer of these particles and dead yeast cells will accumulate at the bottom of the demijohn, covering it completely.

There are no hard and fast regulations when it comes to this racking procedure, which is often done twice throughout the time the wine is in a demijohn.

For the first time, this is an excellent moment to rack the wine; for the second time, it will generally be a month to 45 days later, when another deposit has been left and the wine is largely clear.

Every Wine Is Different

As I previously stated, it is customary to rack a wine twice before bottling; nevertheless, certain wines may be different and take longer to clear for a variety of reasons; as a general guideline, rack a wine twice before bottling. Rack the wine every 2 – 3 months for as long as there is a new layer of sediment on the surface of the wine. Allowing your wine to sit on the lees for more than 3 months increases the likelihood of it acquiring off flavors. Siphon the wine off the sediment if you notice a coating of sediment on the surface.

Achieving a Clear Wine

A wine should be bottled once the wine has entirely clarified and all indications of fermentation have long since vanished. Some winemakers stabilize the wine at this time by adding potassium sorbate, which will prevent any further fermentation from occurring once the wine is bottled. Although it is not necessarily required, it is something that we will consider in the future. Usually, racking the wine into clean demijohns or carboys several times will result in a transparent wine after a few months of fermentation.

A fining agent is a substance that is used to clarify a wine.

If you decide to use a fining agent, there are a variety of options available from your home brewing provider; simply follow the directions on the package.

After then, it’s time to start bottling.

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