about to clear- should I fill carboy past shoulders?

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16bradbury

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On our 2nd batch of wine- a WE Argentin Malbec.

I'm about to start the clearing process. Before I do so, I have a couple of questions:

The level in the carboy is just at the bottom of the shoulder, where it begins to taper in. It's like this because our starting SG needed to be at 1.09. So we added the appropriate amount of water until is was.

As a result, the level is a bit low.

Before I go further I wanted to know if I should keep it at this level as I move to clearing, or should I fill up with a similar wine? I don't want to add more water because that would dilute the wine. If the answer is to fill it up with a similar wine, is a normal commercial Malbec acceptable?

Thanks everyone.
 

Wade E

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I would add the sulfite and sorbate, degas your wine, add the fining agent and get that all mixed in well and then top up with a similiar wine at that point because stirring all that other stuff in and especially degassing will need some headspace so as not to over flow. but yes you will want to top it up a little better and water in my opinion is not the way to go even though W.E. says its designed to be able to do just so.
 

summersolstice

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I agree with Wade. Though the directions say you can use water to top, I use a similar wine. Just get a bottle or two of Barefoot, or a similar inexpensive big red, and top all the way into the neck. Use water if you will, but certainly top it up.
 

djrockinsteve

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I hate using water unless it's just a few drops. I preferred to use a similar cheaper wine to top off. I will top mine off to around a half inch of the cork if possible.

Now that I've been doing this awhile I've had time to get various sizes of carboys. Less topping off.
 

skiboarder72

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So what is the point of topping it back off? Will the extra space at the top cause problems, or do you just want to yield more wine at the end?
 

Lurker

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The extra space will be full of O2 which will oxidize your wine, in other words, the wine will be ruined. So yes, you must top it off. I use sanitized marbles but its your choice, wine, water, etc.
 

djrockinsteve

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The extra space makes a welcome place for bacteria to possibly grow.
 

gregmg

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An active fermentation protects a must/wine in two ways; 1) by providing a blanket of CO2 that protects wine from oxidation, and 2) by providing a micro-environment that is dominated by yeast (no other microbes stand a chance).

You can get away with having a lot of headspace or ullage when fermentation is going fast and furious, but after it settles, you need to reduce this airspace to an inch or less. It's better to top off with a wine of a similar type; using water may thin it out a bit. You can also sterilize some marbles and add them to the carboy to bring the level up to the top.

Greg G.
 

Wade E

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Another option is to use a gas like bottled C02 or Argon gas to displace the 02. They sell this preserver in small cans at lots of wine stores to protect a bottle after its been opened of if your keg your own brew then you most likely have a 5 lb tank or bigger right at your disposal. As far as the C02 being compressed back into your wine dont worry about that as its much harder to get a gas into a beverage then out. You would have to have it under gret pressure for it to dissolve into your wine.
 

skiboarder72

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Doesn't the sulfite slowly release So2 to fight off oxidation and alternative yeasts from invading? Also when racking the wine over it's exposed to a lot of oxygen, why doesn't that spoil it?
 

Wade E

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Sulfite release is very minimal whie sitting stagnant, its the fact that its in the wine thats protecting it but if sitting there with 02 also trapped in your carboy in excessive volumes it can deteroriate the S02 fast. The sulfite doesnt keep the yeasts and microbes from invading, it just keeps them in check but if the sulfite levels get low they can take over. If you rack your wine properly by using a racking hose and by keeping your racking hose in the carboy being filled under the wine there is little 02 exposure but yes there will be some. Some 02 into your wine is actually good hence the reason why wines are barrel aged as the barrels actually breath some and some water actually evaporates leaving you in the need to top up barrels of wine much more often (Angels Share) and this micro oxygenation enahnces the wine. We also dont keep the sulfite levels as high as typical commercial wines are which can also let our wine oxidize much easier.
 

gregmg

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Doesn't the sulfite slowly release So2 to fight off oxidation and alternative yeasts from invading? Also when racking the wine over it's exposed to a lot of oxygen, why doesn't that spoil it?
SO2 helps, but it only goes so far. Racking does introduce some oxygen to the must/wine, but the exposure is only brief. Long term aging with too much headspace is just asking for trouble. Many times in various wine making forums I've seen posts from people asking what's growing in their carboys; the pictures they post often show excessive ullage with mold growing on top.
 
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