Welcome to Pressing News, the monthly newsletter
published by Fine Vine Wines, LLC, designed exclusively to assist
the home vintner in the pursuit of his hobby!
You can keep up with the changes and/or additions
at the web site by visiting the Updates
Page. If you discover anything that does not work properly,
please let me know.
THIS MONTH ON THE VINE!
I would like to thank each one of you for visiting our site. I
hope it was an enjoyable experience and you were able to find
everything for which you were looking. As I indicate on our web
site, we started this business last year, so unlike big business,
we are extremely flexible and nothing we have done so far is “etched
in stone.” As a result, being an early user of our site
and subscriber to our newsletter gives you the ability to influence
the future of our site and company!
We like to hear what you have
to say about our site and/or our service, good or bad. Please
send your comments and/or suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
TIP (from a customer)
Controlling the mess:
One of the things that I have found to be helpful
when bottling wine and trying to control the "mess"
is to bottle the wine over the "open" dishwasher door.
When I fill the bottles, there always seems to be those few drops
that continue to drip from the noozle/fill tube. When I finish,
I just close the dishwasher door and run it through a cycle. No
mess on the floor, no stains.
Our thanks go to Michael Capps of Maryland for
If you have a tip you would like to share, send
it to me. I will include it in the next newsletter and I will
give you a $5.00 off coupon.
For those of you that want to buy something for
a friend or loved one, but don't know what they need or want,
we are here to help. We now have a finevinewines gift certificate,
item #9999. It is listed for $25, but you can make it for as little
or as much as you wish. Just order the item and tell us how much
you want on the gift certificate and if you want the gift certificate
emailed to you or the recipient. If you choose to have the email
sent to the recipient, be sure to give us their email address
and the date you would like it sent. We will copy you on the email,
so you will know when they receive their certificate.
ARTICLE - The Whys and Hows of Racking Your Wine
The process of transferring the wine from one container or vessel
to another is called “Racking” and is necessary if
you want to make a quality wine. This procedure is performed exclusively
to move the wine off of the “lees” (sediment). The
lees primarily consists of dead yeast cells and particles (hydrogen
sulfide compounds) that have fallen out of the wine. You want
these particles to “fall” out of the wine, so you
can have a brilliantly cleared wine. Nobody likes a wine that
has “stuff” floating in it.
Racking should be performed at least 3 times (more if you are
bulk-aging your wine) throughout the winemaking process. It is
very important to rack your wines in a timely manner, as I will
discuss later, in more detail. The following information pertains
primarily to wine kits, as they do not contain any large solids,
like pulp, seeds, flowers, stem or leaves. Obviously, if you are
starting from scratch, you do not want to leave your wine on these
large solids for an extended time. In this case, you would follow
the recipe and perform your first racking accordingly.
For a kit wine, the first racking should normally be performed
on day 6 of the fermentation process. This first racking is necessary
to protect your wine from oxygen and to remove the wine from the
“gross lees” (The sediment that falls out during the
primary fermentation phase is called the “gross lees”,
and this comprises about 80 percent of all of the sedimentation
that will occur) and should be performed on the day specified
in the instructions.
A large open top bucket with a non-sealing lid is normally used
during the primary fermentation phase. During this phase the yeasts
are producing Carbon Dioxide (CO2) along with the alcohol. This
Carbon Dioxide cap protects your wine from oxygen and other airborne
particles, as CO2 is heavier than oxygen. As the fermentation
slows down, the yeasts no longer produce enough CO2 to protect
the wine. Racking your wine enables you to put your wine into
another vessel that you can seal with an airlock. The airlock
keeps all of the bad air out of your wine, while allowing the
CO2 to escape as the pressure builds up. This first racking also
removes the gross lees. It should be noted that some sediment
will aid in giving your wine flavor and body; however, too much
will impart off flavors to your wine.
The second racking is performed when fermentation is complete.
The exact time frame between the first and second racking is dependent
on how long it takes for the yeast to convert all of the sugar.
This is where your hydrometer comes in handy, as you should not
perform this racking until your wine is dry, i.e., all sugar has
been converted and all the yeast cells are dead. The reading on
your hydrometer will be 1.000 or less.
For a kit wine, the time frame is normally 2-3 weeks, after the
first racking, depending which wine kit is used. The Vino Del
Vida kit instructs you to rack on day 20, which is 2 weeks after
the initial racking, while, the Cellar Classic instructs you to
wait until day 28, which is one day over 3 weeks from the first
racking. The manufacturer has determined these time frames are
optimal for the appropriate kit based on years of trials and experiments.
I have not encountered any problems with delaying this racking
by a week, but I would definitely not recommend performing this
racking anytime before the number of minimum days has passed.
For kit wines, the second racking is also the time that you add
all of the stabilizing and clarifying agents. For clarifying your
wine, several agents are used, including bentonite and isinglass.
Both agents are designed to bond to the remaining solids in the
wine so that they become too heavy to remain suspended in the
wine and thereby fall to the bottom of the vessel and become lees.
About one week after adding the clarifying agents, it is necessary
to rack again. Hopefully, the clarifying agents have performed
their duty and all of the remaining solids have fallen out of
the wine. If you are using a clear vessel, like a glass carboy,
you should notice a thin layer of lees on the bottom.
Some of the kit wines, like Cellar Classic, suggest one more
racking before bottling; however, the Vino Del Vida does not require
this additional racking. The reason for the additional racking
for the Cellar Classic is due to the increased amount of solids
present in this kit. The Vino Del Vida kit is 100% concentrate
while the Cellar Classic contains fresh juice and concentrate.
I won’t go into all of the details, but the bottom line
is that the concentration process unfortunately removes some of
the solids. As a result, this wine does not require the additional
If you choose to bulk-age your wine, you will probably want to
rack your wine every 3-6 months depending upon the amount of lees
occurring during this process. During this period, additional
sediment may fall to the bottom of the wine. If you notice this
additional sediment, you will need it rack. If no sediment occurs,
you can wait up to one year before racking again. I do recommend
that if you are bulk aging for more than a year, you should rack
your wine at least once a year.
It should be pointed out that you do not want to “over
rack” your wine. The main drawback to extra rackings is
the increased exposure to oxygen. As I have pointed out in my
article about oxygen, a little oxygen is good, but a lot is bad.
Every time you rack your wine, you expose it to oxygen. Too many
rackings, too much oxygen; end of story!
There are several ways to rack your wine, but keep in mind the
objective of racking, i.e., to get rid of the lees. You can pour
it, drain it, siphon it or a pump it; however, I strongly suggest
against pouring, as you will disturb the sediment and you will
transfer more of the lees that you intended to leave behind.
Draining and siphoning can be easily performed if the vessel
containing the wine is about 2-3 feet higher than the vessel receiving
the wine. Considering that 6 gallons of wine weighs about 55 pounds,
elevating a full bucket or carboy may be too heavy for you to
lift. Instead of elevating the vessel, electric pumps are available
to enable to transfer from one vessel to another without having
to elevate the wine.
Draining works extremely well from the fermenting bucket to the
carboy. The fermenting bucket has a spigot located about ¾”
above the bottom and since the lees are less than ¼”
thick, you can attach a tube to the spigot and drain the wine
into the carboy and leave the sediment behind. Be sure to gently
tilt the bucket to get as much of the wine as possible.
To transfer wine from a carboy, demijohn or similar device, I
recommend creating a siphon. To create this siphon you can use
a piece of plastic tubing by itself or attach it to a racking
cane or automatic siphon. This tubing MUST be made of food-grade
material. In addition, when working with 6-gallon vessels, the
minimum length of the tube should be five feet. When using an
automatic siphon like the FermTech Auto-Siphon, a little longer
tube is better, due to the pumping action required to start the
In order to start the siphon when using a tube
or a tube with a racking
cane, fill the sanitized tube with water or wine. Put one
end into the wine first and then lower the other end into the
empty vessel. Your wine will start flowing into the sanitized
receiving vessel. You have to be careful as the hose has a tendency
to move around in both vessels, so be sure to hold onto both ends
or use a clamp to hold the hose in place. It is wise to practice
this technique with water first, as it is one thing to have water
all over the place and a totally different problem, if you have
wine all over floors, walls, ceiling, yourself, etc.
You also have to be careful as you finish the siphon, so as to
not transfer any more sediment than is absolutely necessary. A
racking cane can greatly reduce this problem as it is rigid and
has a cap on the end that keeps the open end of the cane away
from the sediment.
Another alternative is the FermTech
Auto-Siphon. It is a racking cane inside of a long tube and
like the cane; it has a cap at the bottom of the tube to keep
the sediment out. On the end of the racking cane portion that
fits inside the tube is a rubber grommet that creates a seal.
To start the siphon, all you have to do is pump the racking cane
up and down several times and you have a siphon!
In closing, I would like to remind you of the objective, “leave
the sediment behind”, but I would also like to add that
you don’t want to get carried away and leave too much wine
behind. If you leave too much wine behind, you will have to use
more water or wine to top off your carboys, which could adversely
affect your wine. Carrying forward some sediment is fine; you
just don’t want to carry too much.
---If you would like to offer your comments and/or
suggestions, please send them to email@example.com
For those of you that want to try home wine making,
but don't want to spend $175.00 to find out if you like it, I
have 2 new kits. They are the Beginner's Red Wine Kit for $119.99
(#2000) and the Beginner's White Wine Kit for $109.99 (#2001).
Both kits include all of the basic equipment you need to make
your first batch of wine (30 bottles), including a VDV or GC kit
of your choice. The difference between the complete kits and these
kits are the bottles and bottle cleaning equipment, which I will
offer as a Bottling Kit by the end of this month.
These kits give you the ability to try this hobby
for as little as $4.00 per bottle plus shipping. If you enjoy
wine making and the wine you make, you can always get the Bottling
Kit later to make the process of cleaning and sanitizing your
bottles much easier.
I have also added the Plastic Test Jar and 3
feet of tubing to the Complete Scratch Kit. I added the test jar
as the 1.5 gallon plastic bucket is not deep enough for the hydrometer
to work properly and the tubing to help you rack your wine.
In addition, I have greatly increased the number
of products that I keep in stock. In fact, I am trying to keep
at least one of each wine kit variety on hand at all times. If
you have wanted to try a new variety, but did not want wait a
month for it to arrive, now is the time.
I am still waiting on my new corks to arrive.
Hopefully they will be in shortly.
This month we are offering a special discount
on shipping costs. All orders placed during the month of February
2004, will receive the following shipping discount, depending
on the size of the order:
- Orders over $25, but less than $100 will receive a 10% discount
on shipping costs.
- Orders over $100 will receive a 20% discount on shipping
In addition, for all of you lucky people that
received a wine kit from us for Christmas, finevinewines.com will
give you a $10 off coupon on your first order with us. In the
order comments, just tell us that you received a kit from us for
Christmas and who ordered the kit for you. We will do the rest.
Remember, as soon as you register, you get a
coupon good for $5.00 off. This coupon can be used immediately
and it can be used in conjuction with any other discounts.
For those of you in the FVW
Growers Club, all monthly discounts are always in addition
to your 5% permanent discount.
I have added an option to the ordering system
that allows you to request a shipping quote without placing an
order. Upon receiving your request, I will send you an email with
the estimated shipping costs. You can then decide if you want
to place the order or not. You can learn more about our shipping
policy on our Shipping Information
If you have any questions about our products,
our service and/or wine making, please call us. We are not Corporate
America! We are here to serve you. I bring this up, because a
number of my callers apologize for bothering me or using my toll-free
line. You are definately not bothering me and I have a toll-free
line so you WILL call me. By the way, my long distance rate is
4 cents a minute, so even if we talk for 1 full hour, it only
costs me $2.40. If I can help you, it is worth every penny.
Sometimes, I am unable to answer the phone. If
you get the voice mail, please leave your name, number, brief
message and a best time to call. I will return your call as soon
as I can. By the way, the best time to reach me is between 4-10pm
If you don't want to call, just send me an email.
I usually answer my email daily. In addition, your emails and/or
calls do not have to relate to wine. I will discuss any topic
you like, so please remember, I am your resource and I am here
Starting June 1, 2003, we have created the FVW
Growers Club. You can get all of the details on our website,
but the bottom line is we want to buy your loyalty! Once you spend
$1,000 with us, you get a 5% discount on everything you buy from
us. Find out more on the website.
We appreciate all of your comments, whether good
or bad. To demonstrate our committment to outstanding customer
service, I have created a web page with your feedback. As we receive
emails that comment about our service, I will post them on this
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