If you’ve been following along here, you’ll recall that we began with “Getting Started – Part 1” where we discussed the basic components of what you should look for in a home winemaking starter kit.
Then in “Getting Started – Part 2” we looked at how simple it was to being the winemaking process. The simple steps on Day 1.
Around day 6, you will want to start taking specific gravity readings of your wine. The specific gravity will tell us whether or not there is still some time for the first vigorous fermentation.
What we are planning on doing is “racking” our wine into the secondary glass carboy. But if we do this too early, we could have a bit of a mess on our hands. If the yeast is still working hard, then by transferring the wine into the carboy, we could end up with a lot of foaming, and even the wine coming up into the airlock we’ll discuss in a moment.
Once the specific gravity reaches about 1.010, we can then transfer the wine into the carboy. So what we need to do is make sure our primary fermenter is up high on a table or counter top. Then, we’ll place the secondary fermenter (carboy) on the floor.
This is the fun part – syphoning! Put the syphon tube (the long stiff tube that is attached to the plastic hose, sometimes called a “racking wand”) into the primary, and let it touch the bottom. I like to use an anti-sediment tip attached to the end of the syphon tube. This helps prevent the sediment on the bottom from being sucked up.
Starting the syphon is pretty simply. Be aware you probably will get some liquid in your mouth – and that’s ok! It won’t hurt you – unless you enjoy the taste so much, you decide to keep on sipping instead of transferring.
There should also be a little clamp near the end of the syphon tube. As soon as you bring wine to the end of that syphon tube while sucking on it, close down that clamp, then put the end into the mouth of the carboy.
Release the clamp, and the wine will start transferring from the primary into the glass carboy.
This could take about 15 minutes. Don’t worry if you get a bit of sediment transfer as well. It’s to be expected.
If your carboy did not get filled up to about two inches of the top, then add some water to top it up.
You should have received a bung with your kit – a round item with a hole in the middle, that fits into the hole of the carboy. Put that into the hole. The air lock has three pieces to it – a cap with small holes, an inner piece that fits over the stem that comes up through the middle, and the main body of the air lock.
Fill the main body up about half full of water (I use a sanitizing solution of water and sulphite), put the inner piece inside, and then finally the cap on top.
Place the lower stem of the air lock into the hole of the bunge. This will prevent air getting into the wine, but will allow gas to escape.
Including sanitation, total time for this step is half an hour or less. For much of the time the wine is being racked, you can even just go and do something else for a few minutes, checking in every so often to see how the transfer is going.
And that’s it! Now forget about your wine for another week or so.