Additional Transfers/Controlled Oxygen Exposure
Depending on how much sediment is in the wine, it may need to be racked a few times during its maturation. In addition to helping clear the wine, racking can also be used as a way to insert a small, beneficial amount of oxygen. If the wine is a little edgy when you first taste a sample, but opens up after being in the glass for a while (from being exposed to the oxygen in the air), you may want to rack it without any inert gas. However, if the wine tastes great right out of the thief or sample valve, consider taking steps to prevent it from picking up any more oxygen on the transfer preserving its original character. In this case we recommend purging the transfer lines and receiving vessel with inert gas before making the transfer.
The following basic check list should be gone over before any racking:
Test your free SO2 level. Make sure you have at least a portion of your free level in the wine before you make your transfer. This will serve as an internal protection during the transfer in case of oxygen exposure or potential spoilage organisms. Once the transfer is complete make sure to bring the free SO2 up to the required level before closing the wine up for the next 4-6 weeks.
If you made any acid adjustments, it would be a good idea to test the TA and see if it needs more. However, don‟t just go by the numbers alone, taste the wine and see what you think it needs, if anything it at all.
Check the amount of oak/tannin integration. Oak compounds are continuously being released from the wood into the wine throughout the aging/storage process. It is important to monitor their integration into the wine during this period so that the oak character does not become too strong, overpowering the wine. In general, if you use the recommended level of oak in your wines (1.5 - 2 oz. of oak cubes per 5 gallon carboy, or actual barrels themselves), and taste/monitor the progress every 4-6 weeks, you will be able to avoid accidentally over-oaking your wine.
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