Getting Your Wine Ready For Bottling

Racking WineI will be bottling my first batch in the next week or so. Planning it out, I would find it much easier to dispense the wine via the spout on the large fermentation container. However the wine is finishing up its process in the 6 gal carboy. The question is, is it safe to move the wine from the carboy to the fermentation container at the moment I am ready to bottle? I would certainly be sure I minimize oxygenation and everything would be sterile. Thanks for your reply.
Name: Larry
State: NJ
Hello Larry,
Actually, it would be preferable for you to move (rack) your wine from the carboy to a bucket fermenter at this stage of the winemaking process.
The #1 reason for this would be to get the wine off the sediment. You should expect to have more sediment at the bottom of the carboy at this point. You need to get this sediment away from the wine.
Before bottling it is recommended that you add a sulfite such as Campden tablets or sodium metabisulfite to the wine. This will help to preserve it while it is aging in the wine bottle. To do this you will need to stir the sulfite into the wine. If the wine has sediment on the bottom you will be stirring this sediment back up into the wine. That’s a bad thing. It’s also awkward to stir a wine while it’s in a carboy unless you have something like a degassing/mixing paddle.
The #2 reason is the reason you stated: as a matter of convenience. Starting a siphon out of a carboy and maintaining that siphon and controlling its flow all at the same time can be difficult. It is much easier to deal with a spigot that has an on and off and does not require a siphon to be maintained.
A Quick Tip
Just as you stated, you do not want to splash the wine around any more than you have to when racking the wine into the carboy. Keeping the air exposure to a minimum is important. This can easily be done with a siphon hose. Start the siphon and make sure that you fill the bucket fermenter from the bottom-up. In other words, make sure that the siphon hose can reach all the way to the bottom of the fermenter you are filling. By doing this you will be eliminating all the splashing and keeping your wine safe from oxidation.
Happy Winemaking,
Ed Kraus
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.