4 Tips For Losing Less Wine When Siphoning

Carboy of WineI generally wait until the stuff has settled out of the wine, and then I very slowly siphon my wine. I have set my wine outside when it is below 0 degrees and that clarifies it. I know there is a chemical I can use but I don’t like doing that. My biggest problem is the waste that occurs when I siphon. Is there a filtering method to save this wine? Thanks!

Name: Roger M.
State: WI
Hello Roger,

Thanks for asking such a question about racking your homemade wine. Losing too much wine when racking is something that is concerning to many home winemakers.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to decrease the amount of wine you lose when racking (siphoning) your wine. These are simple little techniques that will allow you lose less wine. I’ll go over them one-by-one:

  1. Use An Actual Wine Yeast
    By using a wine yeast verses baker’s yeast, you will be able to get more wine with less sediment. Wine yeast is bred to pack more firmly to the bottom of the fermenter. This creates a sharper line between the wine and the sediment. This makes it easier for you to get all the wine.
  1. Tilt The Fermenter
    By tilting the fermenter towards the end of the siphoning you can cause the wine to roll off the yeast, into the corner, giving you a deeper area to siphon from. This is very helpful. Again, an actual wine yeast will help in this regard. If the yeast doesn’t pack firmly, this method is not nearly as effective.
  1. Save The Murky Stuff
    If you are in a situation where there is a lot of cloudy wine towards the bottom, save it in a separate container, like gallon jugs. Give it more time to clear up on its own. Then siphon off the sediment.
  1. Rack (Siphon) The Wine More Than Once
    Rack the wine right after the fermentation has completed. Wait a few weeks and then rack the wine again, right before bottling. And here’s the secret part. When you do the first racking, get as much of the wine as you can, even it if comes with some sediment. But when you get to the final racking, before bottling, do whatever it takes to leave all the sediment behind. What you will find by doing this is that you will have very little sediment at the last wine racking, maybe a dusting, causing you to loose hardly any wine at all.

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Additional Thoughts:
You mentioned that you did not want to add chemicals to your wine, but I would ask you to consider adding bentonite to your wine to help clear it out faster and pack more firmly on the bottom. Bentonite is a natural clay that attracts particles such as the wine yeast and fruit fiber, and drags it to the bottom. We sell it in a food-grade form. It does not permanently mix with the wine and does not affect the wine in any way other than to clear it. The bentonite settles out and is left behind, just like the particles. This will help you quite a bit.

I hope these tips on racking your wine helps you out. Another blog post that you might want to take a peek at is How Do I Get The Wine From The Sediment? This blog post may give you some clearer ideas on racking your wine.

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.

22 thoughts on “4 Tips For Losing Less Wine When Siphoning

  1. In regards to clarifying wine I purchased a used refrigerator into which i can put two five gallon carboys until I decide to bottle then. Doing this will cold stabilize them and will cause the sediment to fall to the bottom of the carboys and become a solid coating thus clearing the wine and making it easier to siphon almost all of it.

  2. My pet peeve: All kits say they make 6 gallons (30 bottles of wine). They are also consistent in saying not to top up after racking. I usually rack three or four times between primary and bottling and net about 28 bottles. I don’t consider losing 2 bottles of wine in racking a big loss but I wish they wouldn’t say it makes 30 bottles of wine!

  3. When siphoning wine rack by tilting the 5 gallon fermenter then top up to the 5 gallon mark with water.

  4. Les, by using the methods in the above blog post, you should be able to get your loses down to 1/2 a bottle.

  5. Thanks for the info on racking in today’s newsletter. I’m just about to rack my 3rd and 4th wine kits (I’m new at it)- a California and a Shiraz. That’s great information on keeping as much wine as possible, thanks again.

  6. If I am fortunate enough to balance the carboy and not stir up the sediment, I put the last couple liters in bottles for ‘home use’. A dear friend bought me a very simple bottle-siphoning device that works quite well. If I am not so fortunate, I still retain the final bottles – sediment and all – and either put them in the fridge to settle and/or retain them for the next “top up”. We NEVER waste wine!!

  7. I use a15liter wine kit and make it in a 6-1/2 gallon carboy and top it up to get 31to 32 bottles. The wine is still great. I run it through a gravity filter and put a stainless steel wingnut around the tube so i can drop it to just above the sediment and lose almost nothing. I do tilt the carboy quite a bit after the last racking and when I filter it I carefully tilt it the other way so I can drop the tube to the bottom. If you use an 8 liter kit it may not be as goid


  9. I hate losing any wine! I figure with 6 gallons of wine, losing a qt. is quit a bit So what I do is have several smaller jars handy. First time i rack, I save the cloudy bottom in a 1 gal. container. When that is settled out I can add it to my regular wine, In siphoning the gal container usually save the remaining cloudy wine in a Qt mason jar. When that little bit clear up I add it to the regular wine. If you really want to save cloudy wine you could go to a smaller jar and save the remnants of the qt jar in that. So I uaually lose about one cup or less when it is all finished settling out.

  10. The last bit of wine that is usually murky I rack into an ice wine bottle. These bottles are usually tall and thin. This will allow you to siphon off more of this wine after it has settled in the bottle.

  11. I have found that if I move the carboy into the location it will be when siphoning (usually the counter top), place a couple of books or pieces of 2 x 4 under one side of the bottom and let it sit for a few days, the sediment will resettle before siphoning. I rack all wine through a coffee filter in a funnel. Like Carol, I also separate the last gallon or so into a different container at bottling. It seems like common sense but I will mention it anyway just in case: start siphoning with your suction tube just a few inches below the top of the wine and work your way down as you go. The more of a safe zone from the sediment the better, at least until you get to the bottom !

    • Doesn’t running your wine through a coffee filter take a long time, and also cause it to aerate too much? Just curious.

  12. hi ed
    i am interested in using bentonite to clear my wine but wouldnt a pint of water to a gallon of wine affect the strength & taste ?

    • Michael, you are not adding a pint of water to the wine when using bentonite. You mix the pint of water with the bentonite as directed and it makes a slurry or a clay like substance. Then you add the clay like substance to the wine and the clay collects and drags particles to the bottom.

  13. I find that Pectic Enyme is the best ingredient for making a good tight sediment. However, it does not work on every fruit. I live in the Philippines and our favorite fruit here for wine making is the Black Plum. We do not remove the pitt, just mash the fruit with a potato masher. I use a one gallon bucket for the must, covering it with boiling water, leave it 48 hours only, then strain the must into the fermentation jug.

    My preferred fermentation jug is a 5 liter plastic drinking water bottle, I make 4 1/2 liters of wine in this bottle. I put a small plastic bag on the spout with a rubber band for a trap. I never rack. When the fermentation is complete, I pour the wine carefully into a clean container, getting 99% of it without any sediment. The wine is very clear and good to drink immediately. You can let the wine rest (be sure your container is full, no air) for 6 months to one year and get just a very small sediment sometimes.

  14. I have several dispensers of different sizes that I use for my last racking . I allow the wine to settle
    until it looks like all the sediment has fallen to the bottom. Then I attach a bottle filler to the spout and bottle .Then I pour the last with the sediment in it into a small dispenser and allow it to settle out and bottle that the same way .

  15. After I siphon my wine from my carboy, leaving behind the lees and a bit of wine, I siphon the watery lees into a 3 foot X 2in section of food grade hose. I put in a cork and bubbler, in a month I have another pint of good wine that can be pulled off.

  16. I make my wine with grape and used natural yeast.
    I learn that the degree below 5 Centigrade is not good for wine as manic and tartaric acid sediment.
    From my knowledge I appreciate all your advise .

  17. I make my wine with grape and used natural yeast.
    I learn that the degree below 5 Centigrade is not good for wine as malic and tartaric acid sediment.
    From my knowledge I appreciate all your advise .

  18. Using a racking cane will greatly reduce the amount of wine lost and with the cup tip it sucks in from the top of the cup not the bottom of your hose. My carboys are all in wooden crates for anti-breakage and they also can be tilted with small blocks under the back legs when racking. I use 4 pieces under the back legs adding them one at a time to gradually tilt the carboy.

  19. Any advice on racking watermelon wine? This is my first time (making AND racking). I have two one gallon carboys and they each have about an inch of sediment in the bottom. I purchased a mini auto siphon.

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