Topping Up

I am making a merlot by brew king. I racked the wine from primary to secondary last night. The directions specifically state that I should NOT top up at this point. Yet everything else I've read on the subject indicates that I should. Can someone shed some light on this?
Thanks, Dave
Reply to
Dave
Because the wine hasn't finished fermenting at this point, you don't need to top up because it might cause the carboy to overflow and there's still plenty of CO2 being given off by the fermentation to protect the wine.
Ed
Reply to
Ed Marks
Thanks. That makes sense. Hopefully you can help me on this followup.
I'm supposed to top up on the next racking. There seems to 4 possible things to do.
1) Rack into a smaller carboy, like a 5 gallon US one. This will waste some wine. 2) Add sterilized marbles to the carboy. Nice idea, but it seems like that will waste even more wine on the next racking in that it must be difficult to siphon the wine out from around the marbles. 3) Add water. This will dilute the wine some. Perhaps not enough to be significant? 4) Add a similar style of wine.
Are there other alternatives? What do you do and why? Let's say the I choose #4. Will I damage anything by slowly pouring wine into the carboy or is it best to siphon the wine from the bottle?
Thanks again for the help.
Dave
Reply to
Dave
Dave,
For what it's worth, my opinion of your possiblities is below:
This works well. Nothing need be wasted, just put the remnants in smaller bottles (e.g. used 1.75 Liter vodka bottle, a .75 L wine bottle - whatever size you can fill up) for topping up later. I used this method the most.
This is a bit of a pain, but useful at times - like if you're working with a wine that's unusual (e.g., an ice wine) and don't want to top it up with something else
I never do this - but certainly if the volume you need is very small relative to the total volume, it wouldn't really hurt.
I do this often - it's easy, just pour it in. If you want, you could also use this method to play with blending (e.g., I did a merlot that through topping up had 10% cabernet added, and made a really good improvement in the taste of the final wine). There's also the side benefit of getting to drink the remainder of the bottle that you didn't need for topping!
No, I think you covered them all.
Good luck,
Ed
Reply to
Ed Marks
If you racked at the SG they recommend, it should still give off enough CO2 to protect the wine (assuming you use an airlock). By not topping up, you prevent the possibility of fermentation continuing to be active enough that it blows some foam or wine up into your airlock.
Cheers, Richard
Reply to
Richard Kovach
The wine will taste best if you rack to 5gal. You will have maybe a bottle left over, maybe less. Put it in the fridge if you want, in preparation for the next racking, and use to top up. Your final product will be better without any water (although that's what the kis says to use).
With practice, you lose less than a bottle's worth every time you rack from now on. Put the carboy in position for racking a day ahead of time, and prop it at an angle if you want. Follow the instructions to beat all the gas out, and you will have the best combination of clarification and yield.
Irene
Reply to
Irene
Dave,
Most experienced winemakers have a large selection of bottles (preferably of clear glass) and rack their wine into the largest container(s) available that still leave a little extra wine. In other words start collecting extra carboys, jugs and bottles of various sizes. This is not difficult and the only criteria necessary is that you can fit them with a drilled bung so you can put a fermentation lock on each of them. You can get bungs of any size you can imagine but it is best if the opening is not too large.
I have dozens and dozens of smaller sizes in addition to my large carboys (27 liters)and barrels. You can make plenty of use of smaller carboys as well as Imperial and U.S. gallon jugs, 2 liter jugs (these are great if you can find them), 1.5 liter bottles even 500 ml, 375 ml (standard half bottles) and 125 ml bottles. The latter are available as most airlines sell these to passengers and use them with meals. Air locks are available to fit all of the above sizes.
I would strongly discourage pouring wine except from the smaller bottles and it is important to maintain your sulfite levels after fermentation is done as it reduces the likelihood of oxygenating your wine. Diluting wine will lessen the quality of your finished product this is a shortcut that is just not worth it.
Keeping wine topped up is a nuisance but not doing so will, at best, reduce the quality of your wine and usually ruins it completely depending on the situation.
I always keep several half bottles of wine by my barrels and they are used for topping up on a weekly or at least bi-weekly throughout the year or two that the wine is aged in them.
Good luck and start collecting small containers.
Glen Duff
Reply to
Glen Duff

I keep a fair selection of bottles around for just that purpose, but the smallest size that I have airlocks fitted for is one gallon. Once the fermentation is finished the wine should be topped up in whatever container(s) it is in and capped tight. I just can't see airlocking a 137ml bottle!
Topping up gives you the opportunity to monitor the progress of the wine's development via regular tasting. I wouldn't call that a _nuisance_. It's part of the payoff for being a winemaker. :^)
Tom S
Reply to
Tom S
the bungs I have are hollow in the middle. I can invert them and stick them OVER the top of a beer bottle or similar...
dave
email: dallyn_spam at yahoo dot com please respond in this NG so others can share your wisdom as well!
Reply to
Dave Allyn
If the wine is still fermenting when you move from primary to secondary, you still need to leave some (not a lot of) headroom. If (and when) the wine is still, top up.
Reply to
Negodki
1) Rack into a smaller carboy, like a 5 gallon US one. This will waste some wine.
Not necessarily. Put the excess in a smaller container. Or drink it.
2) Add sterilized marbles to the carboy. Nice idea, but it seems like that will waste even more wine on the next racking in that it must be difficult to siphon the wine out from around the marbles.
If you use a standard syphoning rod, you can push the marbles aside. No waste. But unnecessary.
3) Add water. This will dilute the wine some. Perhaps not enough to be significant?
Don't add water. To anything. Ever! Fish f*** in water!
4) Add a similar style of wine.
Best idea for topping up --- if you have some handy.
Probably, but I think you've covered them all
anything by slowly pouring wine into the carboy or is it best to siphon the wine from the bottle?
I use different size carboys to avoid topping up (and drink the excess, if any). Or I top up with similar wine, but I have a large cellar of "similar" wines to use. I don't use marbles. Tried it once, and determined it to be more trouble than worth. And I already expressed my strong disdain for water.
To top up, use a plastic funnel (4/$1 at the local dollar store). If you are topping up more than the length of the funnel, attach a length of clear plastic tubing to avoid splashing and oxidation.
Reply to
Negodki

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