How do I know my wine is done fermenting?

The Winemaker’s Think Tank: Vol 38 – “So my wine is done fermenting, when do I rack it?”

What’s the Winemaker’s Think Tank?
Every Thursday we will post about a few frequently asked questions that our winemaker has answered. If you have a winemaking question you would like to have answered, please email us at support@juicegrape.com and we will try to get into next week’s post. Cheers! 🙂

Crushed grape must being pumped into vats.

So my wine is done fermenting, when do I rack it?

After fermentation, the next immediate step is to remove the new wine from its lees, which is the sediment left behind after fermentation.  The lees contain dead yeast cells, grape particulates, and maybe even a few fruit flies that could lead to the development of some unpleasant aromas in the wine if not removed. Hydrogen sulfide can be produced from the lees if left in with the new wine. The first racking should be done within a week after fermentation is complete, the sooner the better. The wine should be racked into a sanitized container, with the wine filling the vessel completely, leaving a very little amount of headspace. In a carboy, the wine should go up to the neck of the carboy. After the first racking, the wine should be stored in a cool place. If the wine has been inoculated with Malo-lactic cultures, secondary fermentation will continue after the racking as the bacteria will travel over with the new wine into the new vessel. If the wine is going through MLF, do not add sulfites until this fermentation has been completed. If the wine is not going through MLF, then add a ¼ tsp of potassium metabisulfite per 5 gallons of wine to help preserve the wine. Rack every two months to continue clarifying and purifying the wine. Be sure to add sulfites each time that you rack.

We hope this information helps with your winemaking. If you have any follow up questions or winemaking questions in general, please email us at support@juicegrape.com.