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Using Spigot on Primary Fermenter

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raguido

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During the making of wine, one has to rack must from the primary fermenter container into a secondary fermenter container. Typically, this involves siphoning liquid from one to the other. While this does work well most of the time, at times, one ends up siphoning some of the lees which makes the transferred must somewhat cloudy. It also doesn't get as much of the liquid as one would like. An easier way to transfer the liquids is to install a plastic spigot on the primary plastic fermenter bucket (typically a 2-gallon container). Then all one has to do is to attach a plastic tube to the outlet of the spigot and simply turn on the spigot to start the transfer. This technique will leave more of the undesirable solids behind and transfer more of the liquid than siphoning does. Here are some pictures of the setup that I used.

The hole for the spigot in the plastic bucket is centered about 1" about the bottom of the bucket. I used a ¾" spade drill (for wood) with a scrap piece of wood held on the inside of the bucket while drilling. Just clean the hole with an Exacto knife and install the spigot afterwards. There are two gaskets: one for the inside and one for the outside. These are relatively cheap---I purchased a package of 6 for $21.36 (including shipping) at eBay [just search for "Plastic Faucet Spigot (3/4 Inch) BPA"]. Here is a shot of the transfer setup for a 1-gallon jug from the primary fermenter..

Another advantage of having a spigot on the primary fermenter is that one can more easily check for specific gravity (SG) during fermentation after the lid is attached with the airlock. Simply pull out the liquid-filled airlock and open the spigot to take a sample for SG. (You should remove the airlock to prevent sucking any sanitizing solution out of the airlock into the wine.) Then using a small funnel, simply pour the wine back into the fermenter and re-attach the airlock. (You can't use a refractometer to measure SG once fermentation starts, as the alcohol interferes with measurement. It's great, though to use at the start of fermentation when there is no alcohol present. It only takes a drop of must to do the test.). Of course, all the equipment should be sterilized before doing these tests.

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bernardsmith

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Hi raguido - and welcome. Interesting idea but what happens if the height of the lees is above the top of the spigot? Won't you be transferring in all the sediment above the spigot? I certainly prefer to use the spigot when I am bottling and so I am transferring (or racking) only the liquid I want in the bottle.
With a racking cane you can always - always - fix the cane at whatever height you want ABOVE the sediment and so you are not racking the lees. You can buy a very inexpensive device which holds the cane AND which you can attach to the lip of the bucket. The cane will remain above the lees and your hands are free... https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IYVLS8A/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20
 
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raguido

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In making over 30 different batches of wine, I have only had one or two instances where the lees were more than 1/2" thick. Typically, the lees for those wines did not consolidate well. So, this has never been an issue for me.
 
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