Why rack after 5 days in primary?

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Pendragon524

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Question about methodology: some wine recipe books I have call for discarding fruit and racking into secondary after only 3-5 days in primary. They make a distinction between the first 70% of sugar consumption that happens in the first 5 days, and the second 30% that ought to happen over the next several weeks in secondary, where the wine will slowly ferment to dryness. Why would anyone ever follow that method? It seems to me that there are only downsides to racking before the alcoholic fermentation is actually finished. However, I’ve seen this practice mentioned often enough that I wonder if I’m missing something.
 

lumpher

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After a few days the wine starts picking up flavors and aromas from the lees. The reason some rack after 5 days is to prevent autolysis. This is where live yeast is eating the massive amounts of dead yeast at the bottom and digesting that instead of the fruit. I'm not trying to start a discussion of whether autolysis is real or not; that's been a debate for decades, but yeast should digest and process fruit for wine, not other yeast.
 

D the Catastrophist

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Honestly, I think racking before you reach dry (1.0 or less), is a waste and that the impact from oxygenation outweighs that from any flavor from the lees.

I tend to ferment cold so it takes longer, generally at least 2 weeks at minimum to reach that level. Racking after 5 to 7 days really wouldn't accomplish anything. If you put the fruit is a brew bag you can pull that as needed if you are worried about the fruit adding off flavors.
 
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