Wine Kit Secondary Fermentation

old carboy and airlock

Once the transfer from the primary fermenter is complete, leave the carboy at 72 to 75°F for 10 days. There may not be further fermentation activity in the carboy and that is ok. There is plenty of activity taking place. The lack of bubbling in the airlock does not mean fermentation is complete. In 10 days, proceed to the next step.

Step 5: stabilizing and clearing

After ten days check the specific gravity with the hydrometer; it should read .0996 or less. If it’s higher, allow the wine to sit for two more days and test again. If there is no change after five days, proceed to next step.

Do NOT rack the wine before stabilizing and fining. Winexpert kits require that you stir the sediment back into the wine. Racking the wine off the sediment prior to fining may prevent clearing. Be sure to stir all of the sediment up from the bottom.

What you need:

• Packet number 2: sulphite

• Packet Number 3: stabilizer

• Packet Number 4: fining agent

Carboy Spoon

• Measuring Cup

Note: Vigorous stirring is required during this stage to release carbon dioxide gas and ensure clearing. Whip the wine until it stops foaming with a carboy spoon or a mix-stir attached to a variable speed drill.

If kit includes an F-PACK, make room for the additional juice by removing 2 cups of wine and reserve it for topping up the carboy later. Shake the F-pack bag and carefully remove the cap. Gently pour the contents into the carboy. Stir vigorously for 60 seconds. The gravity should now read between 0.998 and 1.005 depending on the style of the kit.

Dissolve the contents of package #2 containing metabisulphite and package #3 containing sorbate in ½ cup of cool water. Add this mixture to the wine and stir very vigorously for 2 minutes. Again, be sure to stir up the yeast sediment from the bottom of the carboy.

Tip: Winexpert recommends adding ¼ teaspoon of Potassium Metabisulphite at this time if you intend to age your wine for an extended period. This should be done regardless of ageing. This addition is extra protection against renewed fermentation. Sulphite is a natural byproduct of fermentation and occurs in all wine, this small amount in six gallons is minimal.

Shake package #4 containing chitosan or isinglass clarifier. These are fining agents selected specifically for the type of wine being made. As a rule of thumb, chitosan is used on red wines while isinglass is reserved for whites.

The fining agent works by attracting molecules of silt with the opposite ion charge. The combined molecules then sink. Both chitosan and isinglass are seafood products with the protein removed to avoid allergic reactions.

Carefully cut open the corner of the pouch and pour into the carboy. Stir vigorously for thirty seconds, longer if foaming persists.

Leave the wine to settle for at least one week. If possible, lower the temperature to enhance the performance of the fining agent. As little as five degrees can make a difference.

Once the wine has had a chance to clear you have the option of bottling it or racking it to another carboy for bulk ageing.

If bulk ageing, consider the wine; more concentrated kits can be bulked aged for one or two months while the premium and estate kits bulk age for up to a year. Monitor the water level in the airlock during aging. Evaporation will occur and the seal on the carboy can be lost.

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