Wine Word of the Week: Racking

By Kori ~ April 30th, 2009.

Wine Word of the WeekThis week’s Wine Word of the Week is racking.

Official definition from Jancis Robinson’s The Oxford Companion to Wine:
Racking is the wine-making operation of removing clear wine from the settled sediment or lees in the bottom of a container. The verb to rack has been used thus at least since the 14th century.

Racking is usually achieved by pumping or siphoning the wine away from the sediment into an empty container but special large racking tanks are used by some large wineries (and breweries). ….

Racking, or soutirage as it is known in French, forms an important part of the annual cycle of cellar work, or elevage, in the production of most fine wines matured in small barrels. ….

Racking is not only part of the clarification process, it also provides aeration, which, in the case of red wines, is essential to the formation of pigmented tannins and is beneficial to the sensory properties of the wine.

Layman’s terms from Kori:
Racking is the process of moving a wine off its sediment or lees.

Filed under: Wine Word of the Week

Reader's Comments

  1. Bryan | May 5th, 2009 at 11:42 am

    Hi I really enjoyed reading your blog and your sections about wine word of the week and the wine book reviews were fantastic. I love blogs like yours that help novice wine drinkers like myself get a solid understanding of wine going forward

  2. Kori | May 5th, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    Thanks for reading, Bryan. We are so glad to hear that you are enjoying the blog and benefiting from our posts. Your comment helps validate the time and effort that we spend on Wine Peeps. Keep reading and please let us know if you have any questions. Cheers!