Question on "topping off"

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Brittydagal

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Hi.

So I'm going through my wine kit and I have just degased and stabilized. My wine kit informs me to make sure my wine is about 2 inches from the airlock in my fermenter, which I am not at. So the question I was hoping to get an answer to is- Is being within two inches really important? I understand that I can go buy a similar wine and "top off" but I went with a very different wine this time- an orange sangria- and would worry a bit that putting another sangria in might affect the taste of this specific blend. What would you recommend?
 

Boatboy24

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What you need there is maybe just a little more than 1 bottle. That's not going to impact the wine materially, provided you use something not too dissimilar. I'd go with a Sangiovese, or store bought sangria.
 

AZMDTed

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If you are going to bottle it in the next 4 weeks then I think you will probably be okay. But if it's going to stay in there any longer then it is really important to fill it up with the closest wine you can find. It's all about volume and surface area of oxygen touching your wine. The less exposure to oxygen the better now.
 

Arne

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Do you have a 3 gal carboy? If so put it in the 3 gal. one and the rest in a 1 gal. one. There will probably be a little bit more leftover so use a 750 ml. bottle or a split. they make stops so you can airlock all the different sizes. Then next time you rack you can use the smaller bottles to top up. Arne.
 

Vinobeau

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At this point, it doesn't make a BIT of difference. You have an active fermentation and you're filling the space with carbon dioxide, not oxygen. On your next racking, you could take steps to reduce the air space, you could add some sugar water now or add some wine later. The marbles are a great idea, too. Start to make some second run wines that will be fairly blah that can be used to top off.
 

Brittydagal

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Thank you everyone for your replies- they're exactly why I come to this site for help. I went ahead and topped off with store bought sangria. Next time I have this issue I may be interested in buying one of those so I'm not changing the wine at all but I think this will work for now and I appreciate everyone letting me double check before I decided what to do. Have a great day and thanks again!
 

drainsurgeon

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I agree with Ted. I have made kits for years and don't really worry about topping off. Never had a problem. You're in the bottle in a couple of weeks and I don't think oxidation happens that fast.
 

JohnT

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I agree with Ted. I have made kits for years and don't really worry about topping off. Never had a problem. You're in the bottle in a couple of weeks and I don't think oxidation happens that fast.
It all depends! If you plan on bulk aging, then headspace is VERY important. If you are have varied weather (fluctuations in barometric pressure) the headspace is VERY important.

If you plan on just aging a week or two, then you just might get away with it, but I would advise that it is never worth the risk.

In the OP's case, adding a store bought wine to top off is WAY better than running the risk of oxidation.
 

Johnd

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@JohnT is spot on. For short periods of time you may get away with it, perhaps even for longer periods if you keep your sulfite levels up where they need to be, proper temps, and not a lot of opening / closing and letting fresh air in.

But to me as well, it's just not worth the risk of oxidation (which I'm hypersensitive to) or contamination of a large quantity of wine. I always top off my vessels.

About a year ago, I purchased a midrange WE Merlot kit, made it and bottled it, no labels, just a piece of freezer tape with an "M" on each bottle. I use these bottles, when needed, to do all of my topping up of wines other than those from grapes. Couple bucks a bottle for topping up is way better than the store bought prices and merlot works out fine with most anything red...........
 

wineforfun

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Thank you everyone for your replies- they're exactly why I come to this site for help. I went ahead and topped off with store bought sangria. Next time I have this issue I may be interested in buying one of those so I'm not changing the wine at all but I think this will work for now and I appreciate everyone letting me double check before I decided what to do. Have a great day and thanks again!
Also, as Arne mentioned with smaller carboys, look at investing in a 5 gal., 3 gal., 1 gal., 1/2 gal. etc. That way you could have racked down and not worried about topping off.
 

spar35

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Top off with CO2?

Would it be a problem if I pump in Carbondioxide in the empty space? (Not bubbling it in the wine itself) Ideal would be nitrogen which is widely used in the food industry but that would be expensive.
 

cozmogeek

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Would it be a problem if I pump in Carbondioxide in the empty space? (Not bubbling it in the wine itself) Ideal would be nitrogen which is widely used in the food industry but that would be expensive.
Yes, people do this all the time. I wish I had the equipment to be able to do so.

I do have a 3 gallon batch of mead with one of the allinone wine pump headspace eliminators and it seems to be working well.
 

jburtner

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I've got a couple handful's of the headspace eliminators and maybe up to a bottle or so of headspace.... No probs yet and some of them are up to about 9 or 10 months of bulk age....

Need to get serious about coordinating my space better though so I can get a couple more carboy's going long-term..

Cheers!
-jb
 

Cowboy77

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Brittydagal - I know this is nothing to do with your question on topping, but curious as to whether that thing in the top of your carboy is a wine theif or an air lock? If airlock, I've never seen one like that. What kind is it? Thanks!
 

drainsurgeon

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It all depends! If you plan on bulk aging, then headspace is VERY important. If you are have varied weather (fluctuations in barometric pressure) the headspace is VERY important.

If you plan on just aging a week or two, then you just might get away with it, but I would advise that it is never worth the risk.

In the OP's case, adding a store bought wine to top off is WAY better than running the risk of oxidation.
I don't disagree that topping off is a good idea. I merely wanted to point out that with kits, you can usually bottle within 4-6 weeks of starting the kits and topping off really doesn't matter. I have made over 80 kits over 8 years and never had a problem with oxidation. My fruit wines that age any where from 3 to 12 months is a different story. I DO keep them topped off properly. Kits not so much. To clarify; it never hurts to top off, but with kits that are going to be bottled in a coupe of weeks, its really not necessary.
 

cintipam

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Cowboy77, it looks to me like she left a long handled spoon in the carboy, and the pic is taken with the convex side of the spoon facing towards the camera. Threw me for a moment too,

Pam in cinti
 

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