If you are asking that question, you came to the right place! Today, we will answer what wine racking is and so much more.
By the end of this discussion, you might still not be a wine connoisseur, but you will undoubtedly know your way around wine racking! With that, let us not dilly-dally anymore. Let us go!
What Is Wine Racking?
Wine racking is one of the terms new people in the wine scene will likely immediately hear. On the other hand, it is a term seasoned wine lovers will not be able to escape.
In other words, it is a must-know in the wine world. Whether one wants to engage in making wine, selling it, or simply drinking it, it is a term that you want to know. With that, let us get to know what it is.
To rack wine means to move it from one container (e.g., barrels, tanks, and amphoras) to another. As you can see, a little like decanting!
However, the two are different, and wine racking is part of the winemaking process, making it a term you will often hear in such talks. It might sound like a simple process, but as you will see in a bit, there is so much more to wine racking than meets the eye.
The Types of Wine Racking
First, there is the quiet racking. It is often the preferred one, but it is not always possible. With this racking, winemakers need a tool with ends that they can submerge in the wine.
Additionally, as we are talking about racking, it should be able to move the wine from one end to the other end. In this type of racking, the winemaker wants to move the wine in the wine.
To give you a better picture, imagine submerging one end of a running garden hose in a drum with some water and waiting until it fills up. As you can see, while this racking is theoretically easy, it is not always possible as it could be hard to do manually.
On the other hand, there is the splash racking. This one is not always ideal, but generally always doable. Unlike the previous method, tools are not necessary for this one.
With the help of gravity, some elbow grease would be enough for this method. As the name suggests, a winemaker wants some splashing in this racking. Instead of moving wine in the wine, a winemaker should move the wine outside of it.
Let us use the running water hose and drum with some water again to give you a better picture. In this racking, the running water hose would be out and above the water.
The difference might not look all that big. However, there is a difference. To better understand the contrast between the two, let us discuss the reasons to rack.
Reasons to Engage in Wine Racking
There might be two types of wine racking, but it can still seem like a simple procedure. With that, it is no surprise that some wonder what it does and how it helps in the winemaking process.
For one, it helps with clearing the wine. It can help get rid of substances. That is, from solids like grape stems and seeds to finer things like sediments. When and how many times to rack depends on the winemaker. However, whenever and wherever this procedure finds itself, it almost always helps with getting rid of something.
With that, it might look like racking only aids in the visuals. However, it is more than that. The substances affect the wine’s flavor, aroma, and texture, and not always in a good way. As you can see, for this reason alone, racking can help make the overall experience better.
Another reason winemakers engage in wine racking is oxygen exposure. Oxygen can help with controlling the tannins.
Simply put, the more exposed a wine is to oxygen, the less tannic you can expect it to be. In addition, it can also aid with controlling unwanted scents. The more oxygen a wine gets, the more you can expect bad smells to fade.
This reason is where the type of racking comes in. With quiet racking, winemakers lessen the oxygen exposure, which is what you typically want for white wines. On the other hand, the opposite is true for splash racking. Now, that is what you would like for some red wines.
Things to Keep in Mind with Wine Racking
As we have said above, wine racking is a step that is almost always present in the winemaking process. However, there is no one way to do it. Different wines would do well with different types and numbers of racking. Feel free to experiment!
On the other hand, you could rack too much. It is a simple process. However, do not get carried away now! The wine might lose its qualities.
Finally, wine racking can help with clearing the wine. However, it is not always enough. Depending on what you want to achieve (e.g., stopping the fermentation process, clarifying, etc.), you might have to employ some other help (e.g., fining agents) so you do not risk racking too much.
Should You Rack?
After all of that, let us answer if you should rack. Technically, you do not have to engage in wine racking. If you decide to make some wine at home, you can skip this step and still end up with a bottle of wine.
However, we suggest you engage in wine racking, even if only to experiment. This way, you will see the difference and decide for yourself if it is a step you do or do not want to do.
What is wine racking? Well, today, we answered this question and got into the details! However, that is only the start. There is still much more to know about wines and winemaking.
You do not have to worry, though! We are here to help! You can check out our other talks for help with your other wine questions and concerns. We still have more wine knowledge we are eager to share with you! However, for now, that is all from us! Cheers!