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Skip Secondary?


I purchased a Master Vintner Small Batch Cabernet Kit and started the fermentation process as per directions. I had a SG reading of 1.094 at the start. Well today is Step 2 day! After sanitizing all of the necessary equipment I took a SG reading, I was shocked that my reading was 0.994 (which is below the threshold to start step 3).

So my question is, is it recommended to skip step 2 and go straight to degassing? Or wait the extra 12 days? I know it’s purpose is to further ferment and allow more sediment to settle. But I was concerned that it may “turn to vinegar” in the 12 days it recommends. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

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I wouldn’t worry about vinegar. To form acetic acid, you need acetobacter (or a yeast that forms acetic acid), temperatures above 70F or so, and a supply of oxygen. Assuming you’ve practiced decent sanitation, you shouldn’t have the necessary infection to create acetic acid, and assuming it’s under an airlock, you shouldn’t have oxygen in your fermenter.

But I would let it sit as long as you can. There is still a lot of biological activity going on in there, there’s off-gassing of unpleasant flavor compounds, and settling of sediment. Rushing isn’t going to make it turn out any better.


Thanks for the quick response and information! I will be sure to follow the instructions, I can definitely say it is still very cloudy. A few drops fell on a towel I had under the primary while taking the reading and the smell reminded me of a video review of a sommelier looking at Francis Coppola Cabernet. It currently has a strong Rubber smell to it.

Those kits certainly let you rush a batch of wine to the bottle, but in my opinion it doesn’t make for the best wine. I do those kits a couple times per year just to play around with it, but a lot of the “extra” ingredients are not necessary. You’ll certainly want to keep a minimum amount of sulfite in the wine, but I’m sure the kit came with a packet of clarifying agent, some sorbate, and maybe some other chemicals. Do a little bit of research about what those ingredients do, and you’ll be able to decide for yourself if you want to use them.

My suggestion, once primary fermentation is complete, rack it to a secondary fermenter and let it sit. It’ll drop sediment for a long time, which might be sped up by something like super-kleer KC, but there will be lots of tannins and other harsh compounds that might take some time. When you rack it, make sure you top up to within an inch or so of the stopper so you don’t have more oxygen than necessary in the headspace. A similar wine can be used, or in a pinch, distilled water. Wait until you can shine a flashlight through it without any cloudiness, and rack it again to sit longer or to bottle. If you bottle from a container with some sediment, it’ll be really tough to keep it out of the bottle. Every other racking, or right before bottling, you’ll want to add more sulfite if you choose to use it.

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