A Quick Tip For Racking Wine

Girl Racking WineFirst off, many of you may be wondering, “what does racking wine mean”? So let’s get that out of the way first. In terms of making wine, the definition of racking wine is the process of transferring a wine or must from one fermenter to the next so as to leave the sediment behind.

Racking wine is necessary because you do not want the wine to sit on excessive amounts of sediment over extended periods of time. Doing so, can cause your wine to develop off-flavors.

Many beginning winemakers will often lose too much wine during the racking process. This happens because they try to eliminate all the sediment with each racking at the expense of losing some wine. In other words, they leave behind too much wine because they feel it has too much sediment with it.

Shop Auto SiphonLosses can total up to 3 or 4 bottles in a 5 or 6 gallon batch when using this type of methodology. Losing wine is something I’m not particularly to fond of, and I doubt you are either.

Here’s the tip for racking wine: to minimize losses when racking wine, always try to get as much liquid as possible each time you rack, even if some sediment comes with it. It’s not about leaving all the sediment behind. It’s about leaving the bulk of the sediment behind. Get as much wine as you can. It’s not until you get to your very last racking – usually the racking right before bottling – that you will want to eliminate all of the sediment at the expense of a little wine.

By the time you get to this point in the wine making process, there is usually only a little dusting of sediment to deal with, anyway. So your wine loss will be very minimal – usually it will be less than half a bottle of wine.
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

17 thoughts on “A Quick Tip For Racking Wine

  1. With a greater distance between the source vessel and the receiving vessel the greater the suction, the more likely you will be sucking more Leeds than desired. Lessen this distance and lessen the “vacuum” effect. Yes it will be slower……..with less Leeds.

  2. tie a piece of wire on the end of your hose to keep the hose off the seidment you only need to hold it off about 1/8th of an inch

    • I don’t think 1/8″ is enough. When racking, I will draw the wine down to about 3″ from the bottom. Then I will tip the “upper” carboy and put the end of the siphon hose at the deep end. Most of the lees will slowly flow down and by then you should be done.

  3. the picture of the girl racking the wine has her emptying the wine without the hose submerged in the wine thus exposing the wine to air. I always have it submerged in the wine. Is her way ok? If it is I would run the wine through a paint filter reducing more sediment.

    • Marty, that is a very good catch. You do not want to splash the wine during transfer. To avoid adding too much oxygen into the wine, you always want to siphon from the bottom up.

  4. The girl should rack from the bottom to the bottom. I use the black plastic cap on the bottom of my siphon. Towards the end of the rack I tilt the carboy to get as much wine as I can, leaving as much lees behind as I can. Also she should have an extra carboy to rack into. This eliminates most contact with air and the need to rack back again into the old carboy.

  5. I always have a smaller vessel like a half gallon sanitized jug available and siphon the last remaining wine into that. I place an airlock onto the jug and put it into my refrigerator. It will soon settle out and I use it to top up. Voila! No wine loss!

  6. Kevin try using a tall thin bottle like an ice wine bottle for last ounces.. Once this settles it’s real easy to siphon off the top of this bottle leaving very little behind..

  7. I have been doing just about the same as Kevin above does. I also use a shorter height difference between the two vessels,works for me,does requires a bit more time,but just about no lost wine. yeah,just as I prefere. see ya FV

  8. By the look of the picture was little confused, usually I transfer from primary (bucket) to a carboy. what she doing is exposing the wine to lot of air. Isn’t so?

  9. I use a clean wine bottle to hold all the liquid left after siphoning off the clear liquid must together with some of the lees. The bottle contains most of the lees and a some of the wine must, l let it settle and then decant rhe upper liqiuid leaving very little wine must and most of the lees to discard.

  10. Sir
    I lose no wine during racvking. Alll the dregs fron each racking and sediment in each bottle go into a demijon . After several rackings and several bottles it is racked and filtered; The sediment is super in the compost heap, and with patience and time, the resul;ting blend of wine will taste wonderful. Unfortuinatyely the same taste can never be repeated.

    My Vin Dreg has gained a great reputation with family and friends

  11. I use a stainless steel rod with a screw like attachment at the very bottom. I tilt the vessel rack it all the way the screw like attachment allows to get all the juice leaving behind most of the sediment. I always rack at least 3 times, no matter how many times I rack, if is see a sediment amount that is not acceptable to me I’ll leave it in the vessel another 3 weeks then rack & filter.

    When it comes to topping up, I do not like using water. I will use an inexpensive store bought similar wine to top up. I’ve never had to use much, but it is still better than water. I get many offers to purchase my wine. After 22 years I must be doing something right.

    • It’s been 3 weeks and I have already moved my wine from a sterilized plastic 5 gallon water jug to a sterilized glass carboy, should I rack again before I transferred to wine bottles and how can I clear my wine up and after 3 weeks is my wine done?!

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