Racking The Merlot And Cherry Wine

I made good use of my new 3-gallon (11 liter) carboys this weekend. Three 1-gallon (3.785 liter) jugs, plus one wine bottle, of cherry wine fit perfectly into the carboy. Eight gallons (30 liters) of Merlot filled a 5-gallon (19 liter) and a 3-gallon carboy with a little left over in a wine bottle.

Higher yield from red wine?

I’m still surprised by the yield from my Merlot grapes. I bought 100 lb (45.45 kg) in October, and I was expecting about 5-gallons of wine, which is about what I’m getting from the 100 lb of Chardonnay grapes I bought at the same time. I think I know what happened. I treated the Merlot with pectic enzyme, then fermented it like any red wine, so the skin and pulp were soaking in a water-turning-to-alcohol mixture for a week. This, to say nothing the fermenting yeast, broke down cell walls and membranes making it a lot easier to squeeze liquid out of the pulp. The Chardonnay, on the other hand, were pressed immediately after crushing. The result: more Merlot wine from the same amount of grapes. I’ll have to make a note of this for next year to see if the extra yield from red wine is real or if this year’s experience was just a fluke.

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4 thoughts on “Racking The Merlot And Cherry Wine

  1. Rick Cramer

    Where did you get your 11 liter carboy? I’ve been looking for a 2.8 gallon, but it looks like they aren’t available. At least an 11 liter is a little less than 3 gallons.

  2. Erroll Post author

    Hi Rick,

    It was a 3-gallon carboy, the “11 liters” in parenthesis was for those who are more comfortable with metric measures, and I bought it at a nearby homebrew shop. I suppose I should have said “11.355 liters,” but the variance in capacity between one carboy and another makes that false precision.


  3. Terra

    I racked my wine from primary to secondary fermentor and there is quite a bit of wine leftover in the primary that will not fit in the carboy, a few bottle worth at least. Can you suggest an alternative to the carboy? It would be a shame to just dump the extra down the drain….

  4. Erroll Post author

    Hello Terra,

    A half-gallon jug will hold about 2.5 standard sized wine bottles, a magnum (1.5 liter) bottle will hold 2 standard wine bottles, and a 1-gallon jug will hold about 5 wine bottles. I like to keep clean empty containers like this around for just this situation. In fact I’ve got 12 oz beer bottles, 8 oz coke bottles, 375 ml half-bottles that I’ve collected over the years.

    You can buy some of these, new clean and empty, from a homebrew shop. That’s probably your best bet for solving your immediate problem, but start saving apple juice jugs, wine bottles, and the like so you’re prepared for the next time.

    What kind of wine are you making?


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