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Winemaking Tutorial - Lesson Five

Secondary Fermentation

Now that primary fermentation - demarked by the vigorous bubbling - is over and the manufacturer's target specific gravity (SG) has been reached, it's time to rack the wine from the plastic food-grade fermenting bucket to the glass carboy.

  1. Start by cleaning, sanitizing, and rinsing the following pieces of equipment:
    • Carboy
    • Siphon rod (also called a "racking cane" because of the curved tubing at the tip) or AutoSiphon, as applicable
    • Siphon hose (vinyl tubing)
    • Bung (drilled rubber stopper)
    • Airlock
  2. Make sure that the plastic fermentation bucket is in an elevated position relative to the floor, such as on a table or work bench. To work, siphoning depends upon air pressure and gravity. If you need to move the bucket to a higher position, be careful not to disturb the sediment at the bottom.
  3. Remove any elderberries or other dried fruit, if present.
  4. Remove any oak wood chips, if present. Place them in a sanitized sieve, and rinse well with clear water. Set aside to drain. Once the wine has been racked to the carboy, we'll put the oak chips back in.
  5. Use the siphon hose and siphon rod/AutoSiphon and gently rack the wine from the elevated plastic bucket to the glass carboy. Be careful not to disturb the sediment on the bottom of the plastic bucket!
  6. Discard the sediment left behind in the bottom of the bucket.
  7. If you have oak chips and desire more oak flavor, put them in the carboy with the wine.
  8. Place the carboy in an elevated area. Remember to lift the carboy with your legs (holding it close to your body), and not your back. You certainly would never want to admit to your neighbors that you hurt your back while making wine! Well... either that, or hope that your chiropractor accepts wine for payment of services.
  9. Fill the airlock half-way with water.
  10. Attach the airlock in the bung (rubber stopper).
  11. Place the bung snugly in the mouth of the carboy for an airtight seal.
  12. Compare the level of liquid in the carboy to the bottom of the bung, and determine the amount of air space in between (this air space is also referred to as ullage). If the difference is about 2 inches, great! Otherwise, you may need to add a bit of cooled, boiled water to bring the wine to the correct level. If you prefer not to "water down" your wine to top off the carboy, you may also pour in a quantity of like wine (i.e. use Merlot to top off Merlot) until the desired level is reached.
  13. Walk away and let nature take its course! Your wine will continue to ferment. You may even notice little bubbles in your airlock as the CO2 escapes, but if not, don't worry.
  14. After about a week (somewhere between 5-10 days), take another specific gravity reading. Be sure to sanitize the wine thief, hydrometer and test jar!
  15. If the SG is 0.998 or more, wait a few more days and try again.
    NOTE: For makers of Cellar Classic Barolo, Shiraz, and Bella Bianco kits only - Your wine will have a final SG between 0.999 and 1.004. This is normal. If within this range, proceed to the next lesson.
  16. If the SG is lower than 0.998, proceed to the next lesson.

 

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