Keep Extra Carboys Empty to Rack or Just Fill'em all?

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Nov 2, 2007
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Few questions, hope this is the correct forum:

What do most people do: keep a same-sized carboy empty and rack into that, or use all carboys and rack into a primary fermentor (or similar) and then rack back into the carboy it just came from? Re-racking is an extra step and could possibly oxidize more, but is that really that much of a concern?

I've heard that regular plastic water bottles are not good because oxygen can penetrate. But aren't barrels "breathing" all the time? I'm not talking storing for more than a month or two in the plastic water bottle, but how much of a concern should it be to use one?

I have a mix of 5gal and 6gal carboys, and I have one extra plain old water bottle (5 gal) and one extra glass 6 gal. Instead of keeping them empty for racking, was considering making another batch or two while I'm on a roll. Just not sure if keeping them empty is a better way to go versus maxing out what I already have. (no room to store any more, so prefer not to purchase add'l ones right now)
Any comments or discussion welcome! Thanks.
I rack from one carboy to another. Why add the extra step of transferring into something else, like you said. I never tried using plastic 5 gal water bottles. I have read in other forums that there is no evidence showing enough air penetrates the plastic to oxidize the wine. Plus, if you are not bulk aging the wine in the plastic I can't see what it would hurt. The downside is that you have to figure a way to put an airlock on the bottle since the plastic water bottles have a larger hole.
The water jugs need a larger bung. I believe that some take a number 10, others a smaller one (9?). Sorry, I don't recall details. When I ran a store I asked people toi bring their jug into the store so that we could fit it.

Personally I don't like the idea of using the water bottles. They are designed to hold water not wine. There are plastic products designed as carboys (eg Better Bottle) that would be a good choice.

Some people do the carboy->primary->carboy thing especially when adding something to the wine because it is easier to stir. Personally I like to have a spare carboy, so that there is one less step.


I've been using plastic water bottles for many years and have never had a problem with them. Normally I don't bulk age more than 3-4months in them however.
Steve, I have heard about the Better Bottle in other forums but I am not familiar with them. I'll have to do some searches. I have been using glass for many years for smaller batches. I have at least 20 carboys and they do get heavy to move around. For larger batches I have some ss variable tanks.
Thanks all. I am using both Better Bottles (2) and glass (3). Don't have too much more room right now unless I start taking over new space to store supplies. Maybe I'll pick up one or two more better bottles just to be safe. Thanks again.

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