Not enough juice in carboy?

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Feb 15, 2009
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I'm to the clarifying stage of my first batch and am again at a loss. Directions say to top of carboy to within two inches of bung with water to prevent spoilege. The problem is, I would have to add around 2 gallons of water! Is this normal? I have only lost a little of the original through not transfering the oat sediment. Also the directions say you can use a similar wine to top off. This is actually preffered.
Should I just add water or can I use store wine (first batch so have no similar homemade). Or should I use a mix of both?
Sorry I don't have an answer, but I was just about to ask the SAME question! Don't want to hijack your thread, but I hope some of the more experienced can help us out.
We added a whole bottle of wine & are still not 2" from bottom of bung. Looks like that would put it at over 6 gallons. (My 1st batch also).
Please help the newbies!
Jim & Jan
This is a real toughy. Many carboys are larger than their stated size. The Italian 23 litre carboys are probably more like 24 litres.

So what do you do? Well, I own six glass Mexican carboys (a truer 23 litres) and NO Italian carboys, so less of a problem. However, the Mexican ones are no longer being made.

Also, I do not top up like my life depended on it. My carboys are often 3-4" (vertically) from the bung.

What are you making and what is the nominal size of your carboy? It sounds like you left a LOT behind when racking. You may need to get a 19 litre (5 US gallon) carboy.

Low carboy level

cpfan, When I racked off the wine I only left what the siphon tube would not get. Around a half inch in bottom of primary fermentor, this had a lot of the oak chips in it. The wine I'm attempting is Chianti. Would you suggest adding say a gallon of "store" Chianti to top off and not worrying too much about the 2 inch suggestion in directions?
Sprit0: Where are you now? You have stabilized and cleared or are coming up to it?

I have never had this happen to me, and don't really know what to recommend. Are you sure that you made 6 US gallons in the primary? If you only started with 5 US gallons, I would add a gallon of water.

Regardless you have to add something, and a gallon of water is too much to be adding if you started with 6 US gallons. So yeah, store-bought Chianti. That might cost almost as much as the kit.

Where were you sg wise on this kit when you started, you should have been in a specific range and if you were way higher then stated then you were most likely not at the 6 gallon mark. I cant see how you could be this low unless you started off lower then 6 gallons and have a 6 1/2 gallon carboy. Topping off your wine with that much water is no good unless you had started way to low, topping off with that much wine is goung to change your flavor profile of what you made unless you use exactly what you are making and even then they usually taste different. Please fill us in on how you lost this much or if you had a strange starting sg.
Just the SG facts

Primary fermenting bucket is marked with 6 gallon line, I trusted this, maybe shouldn't have. As for my beggining SG it was right where directions said it should be. I've been happily married for almost 20 years so am good at following directions:) I ended up topping off with store chianti. My original estimate of 2 gallons was off, only needed 1. That also left enough for me to sample a glass.
I am now at the brightening/finishing stage.
Thanks to all who posted responses especially cpfan and wade
While we are on the subject, do you top up after each racking as I presume you loose some at each racking?

I saw a suggestion to keep some wine aside for racking, so would you bottle some specifically for that? I can imagine racking every 3 months woul remove a fair amount of base.
Sprit, CP and Wade have taught me more and have spent so much of their time teaching me I could never repay them. There are other members on here who have spent equal amount of time teaching all of us. Let's thank them all. Glad to have you amongst us.
You just have to try and keep the wine 2-3" below the bung, try not to get any lower then that. This is why you really need to make more then you are going to make. I always make 6 1/2 gallons when Im going for a 6 gallon batch and keep the rest under airlock in a smaller bottle such as a 1500 ml bottle or 3 luter bottle.
Ok will do, thanks for that. Think ill top up with some shop brought something for now and when I go back to the home brew shop (Can only get there on saturdays at present!) Ill buy an airlock and bung for a smaller bottle.

Theres so much I need and I thought i had everything! lol:D
I would buy an assortment of bungs like a few #3's, a few #8's and a few airlocks. they are cheap enough and if you are going to make fruit wines you will need them alot. A few yeast packets are good to have on hand in the fridge too. I basically only use Cotes Des Blanc, Pastuer Red, and Montrachet but do keep 1 Premier Cuvee on hand in case of a stuck fermentation. You just never know but Ive never had 1.
  • #2 bungs fit cork finish wine bottles
  • #3 bungs fit plastic PET bottles (ie soda pop bottles)
  • #6 or #8 fit gallon jugs depending on the specific jug
  • #10 fits the Better Bottle
  • #6 1/2 is standard for glass carboys, but 11 litre Mexican carboys are best with a #7, and I had one glass carboy that needed a #6

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Cheers for that.

When I first started (two weks ago!) I took a list of what I had to the home brew shop and asked if I had everything I needed!:rolleyes: was told yes, but have been finding out I need more stuff every week! Which is fine by me, but would be easier if the shop was closer to get them! Have added all those to my list, premier cuvee yeast, extra airlocks in various sizes as I have the rest so far.

I brought a bottle filler yesterday and a couple new 1 gallon carboys (I get the bungs and airlocks at the same time to save hassles!) and a few other bits and pieces.

This is certainly an interesting and fun hobby. Really appreciate the help though as I feel very naive at this stage.

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