Winemaking 101 – Episode 5 – What is a second run wine?

Most people have no idea what a “second run wine” is, so this is a good place for an explanation.

A “second run” or “false” wine is a wine make from the left-over pomace from wine making. In theory, this can be done with the pomace from any fruit, although my experience is only with red grapes. The idea is to start a batch of wine, press the wine out at the end of fermentation, then add water, sugar, tannin, acid, and yeast food to the pomace, making another batch of wine. The second run wine will be lighter in body (the original wine extracted a lot of the color and flavor) and will be roughly half the size of first run, e.g., if the first run made 10 gallons, the second run will be roughly 5 gallons.

First, a few wine making definitions that will help with understanding. I should have done this in my first post.

  • Fruit – Anything from which wine can be made from. In my winemaking posts, this refers to grapes unless I specify otherwise. FYI – wine can be made from every fruit I’ve heard of, and quite a few vegetables as well.
  • Must – Crushed fruit including juice, pulp, and seeds.
  • Pomace – The solid part of the must, although the term is typically used to refer to the solid mass that remains after the juice is pressed out.
  • First Run Wine – most people call this “wine”; in discussion the term may be used to distinguish it from second run wine.
  • Second Run Wine – Sometimes referred to as “false wine”, this is a second wine produced from the pomace (details below).
  • Specific Gravity – Abbreviated “SG”, specific gravity is a measure of the relatively density of a liquid in comparison to water. Water has a reading of 1.000. Must typically has a SG between 1.050 and 1.110, although the sweet spot for most wines is 1.075 to 1.095. SG is measured with a hydrometer — float it in the liquid and read the scale at the water line.

Why make a second run wine?

The best answer is “why not?”.

From 180 lbs of grapes I have ~11 gallons of wine and 40 to 50 lbs of pulp. By adding a few ingredients I can make an additional ~5 gallons of wine. No, it’s not as robust as the first run — the second run is lighter in body and character. But it’s perfectly drinkable, and as my old partner Chris said, “It’s something to drink while the first run is aging.”

The bottom line is that for a modest cost the wine production can be increased by 50%.

Second Run Wine

The Method

  1. Crush/de-stem grapes, inoculate with your favorite yeast, and start fermentation. This is the first run wine.
  2. Ferment must until it’s ready for pressing, when the specific gravity (SG) is between 1.000 and 1.020 (I target the mid-point, 1.010).
  3. Drain the free run wine from the must. Some stop there — I lightly press the must.
  4. For every 2 gallons of free run wine, place the following in a primary fermenter: 1 gallon warm water, 2.25 lbs sugar, 2 tsp acid blend, 1 tsp yeast nutrient, and 1/4 tsp grape tannin.
  5. Mix well until the sugar is dissolved (hot tap water makes this easier), then add the pomace. Stir as best you can and take a specific gravity reading. [In my experience getting a good SG reading is tough.]
  6. Depending on various factors, fermentation will take 4 to 10 days to reach the target SG. If the temperature is fairly consistent and in the upper 60’s to mid-70’s F, 4 to 6 days is typical.
  7. When the SG is in the target zone, drain off the free run wine and lightly press.
  8. I place this in one container (or set of containers), then hard press the pomace. The results of the hard press I place in other containers.
  9. From here, both are wine. They will finish fermenting and clear with time (or with the addition of a fining agent).
  10. The hard press second run wine has more body, color, and flavor, but will be harsher. It can be blended into the first and/or second run wines judiciously to increase the color, body, and change the flavor.
  11. Judicious means draw a sample of the first or second run (base) wine. Add a small, measured amount of the hard press and taste. Repeat until you reach decided the taste is declining. Determine the ratio of hard press to base wine and blend it in. I like to let the wine age in bulk for another month or tenbefore bottling.

There you have it — second run wine in one easy lesson!

Stay tuned for Episode 6, where I detail how this fall’s second run was made.