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Gerry Congleton

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I have read opposing view on topping up after siphoning from primary fermentation to secondary fermentation. Should I top up or not? If I do, with what, wine or water?
 

cmason1957

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Gosh I hate the word secondary fermentation, I blame kit manufacturers for calling racking to a carboy a different fermentation. There is only one fermentation. You are just racking to let fermentation finish. Okay, off my soapbox. I know I won't win that.

So to top off or not, my vote is not at the time you rack from your primary fermentation vessel to your secondary fermentation vessel. You have your wine now contained in a smaller space, with a limited amount of air content, plus you are still producing a reasonable amount of CO2 to fill that space up and push out the oxygen. In addition, you generally leave it in that state for 3-5 days, which isn't enough time to cause major problems if your fermentation is just almost complete. Once you rack it again to get it off the gross lees and add Kmeta, then yes, you should top it up, very little CO2 being generated any longer, so less protection, you top up to decrease the surface area that the air can interact with.
 

Gerry Congleton

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cmason1957 - Helpful information, Thanks! This only my 2nd attempt with a 6 gal. bucket. I wasn't sure about the amount of must so I may has left too much wine in that 1st step when racking to a glass carboy. That was the cause of my concern.
With my first attempt last year I gave most of it away and asked for opinions as to taste. Everyone thought it was a good tasting wine which made me come back for more.
 

cmason1957

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With regard to that first racking and how much to get, my opinion is get as much as you can. I often will site it somewhat right before I rack. I want to get all the yeasty i can to make sure it doesn't slow down and have issues finishing the ferment.
 

Gerry Congleton

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That may be a problem for me. It is still working, but very slowly.
Also, I do not plan on bottling when the process is completed. I want to leave it to age in a carboy, closed and wrapped to keep the light out (which would not be much). How important is temperature management at this stage?
 
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Hi and thanks for input. It's my first read of every morning. Am I missing something fundamental? Why rack or call it a Secondary? I just keep it in the bucket till the SG is below 1.0 and has not dropped for 3 days. Then rack. 30 days and rack again.
 

cmason1957

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Hi and thanks for input. It's my first read of every morning. Am I missing something fundamental? Why rack or call it a Secondary? I just keep it in the bucket till the SG is below 1.0 and has not dropped for 3 days. Then rack. 30 days and rack again.
Kit instructions indicate that a rack of the wine should be done around 1.020 or so from out of the primary bucket into a carboy. The reasoning is that the bucket has larger surface area or maybe the carboy has less to protect. Either way works just fine, do what you are comfortable with. For me with red wines, I leave it in my trash can until the cap stops being pushed up, which is when it is done or nearly done fermenting. For white, I tend to rack a bit sooner to prevent oxidation.
 

JohnT

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Like others have said, leave some room until fermentation is complete.

When topping off, remember the 100 rules...
1) never use water
2) never use water
3) never use water
4 never use water.....

{you get the idea}

water will only throw off your PH and dilute the wine. If you need something to top off with (and you do not have any reserved for topping off) use some good quality store bought wine. With any luck, you may have some store bought wine to sip when finished.
 

Rice_Guy

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rule one) don’t top off with something which will reactivate the yeast
When topping off, remember the 100 rules... 1) never use water . . .
3) never use water.....{you get the idea} water will only dilute the wine. . .
* as a fruit wine maker I will calculate what I want the finished carboy to be and hold back some water which is then used IF needed for topping off, and yes some wine is 13% alcohol when finished
* oxygen is the enemy of ethyl alcohol not to mention that it is needed for acetobacter growth, rule two) keep the contact with oxygen to a minimum, Craig had excellent answers since CO2 will not react with alcohol
 

JohnT

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If your so2 and acid levels are where they should be, o2 at racking is only a minor concern.

Agree with sg. I depends on how much water you add. Still, I would top off with wine just the same.
 

Gerry Congleton

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I don't have a reply, but I have a question. I don't want to bottle now and I would like to leave the wine in the carboy to age and I don't have a definite idea how long I will do that.
I am assuming I can close it up and not have to be concerned about the bung popping off. Right????
 

Scooter68

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IF you plan ahead you can use water to top off within reasonable limits. (not a quart per gallon but a few ounces is not a huge issue. Now if you want as an high ABV as possible that will limit you but as for pH. Unless you start at the high end (Above 3.5) you should not have an issue - It all comes down to planning ahead instead of just letting things happen. Add extra fruit, make sure the pH is at 3.4 or even lower if possible, and of course if you want an ending ABV of 12% start out with 13% or even more. Again if you do a little planning ahead you can even have some extra wine in smaller containers top off with. THAT is the best way. Start with 5.75 gallons if you want a 5 gallon batch (Assuming that you are using juice not whole fruit.
Kit wines... another story and one reason I prefer to not use them.
 

Gerry Congleton

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I am using a kit. As I mentioned, I am assuming I can siphon into a carboy and close it up for aging. Will that be safe? If I need to top off a little I will use another red wine. The kit says the SG should be 0.990 or less. Sound right?
 

Scooter68

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Instructions should say .998 or less. .990 is the lowest you will ever see on any accurate hydrometer with a wine ferment.
 

Gerry Congleton

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My mistake. The kit says to reach .996. I find it very difficult to stop the hydrometer from sticking to the side of the tube holding the wine (name escapes me). That must be a rookie concern.
 

Rice_Guy

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General procedures;
..some folks will siphon much of the gunk (lees) into the carboy with the thought that it settles out anyway, or with a plastic bucket you can’t accurately stop
..at 0.996 gravity the fermentation should be finished so I wouldn’t expect to pop a bung, on a fresh fermentation there should be quite a bit of CO2 in the wine which will be trapped if “close it up“ means a solid bung. I put an air lock or silicone bung on for at least six months.
..lots of kits have a preservative potassium sorbate to keep bottles from exploding (after back sweetening
..a wine whip is low tech and will help get the gas out so you can bottle early, the stories about explosions are rare but it does happen
..our consensus is top it off, many of us dump the gunk (lees) in a tallish jar in the fridge to let it settle and collect more liquid, the general consensus is an inch or less headspace every time you rack. Your original post was at the end of dec which is longer than we like with a big head space.
good luck! The first few batches are trial by fire to figure out how to do it with the tools available, and it gets easier!
 

Gerry Congleton

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General procedures;
..some folks will siphon much of the gunk (lees) into the carboy with the thought that it settles out anyway, or with a plastic bucket you can’t accurately stop
..at 0.996 gravity the fermentation should be finished so I wouldn’t expect to pop a bung, on a fresh fermentation there should be quite a bit of CO2 in the wine which will be trapped if “close it up“ means a solid bung. I put an air lock or silicone bung on for at least six months.
..lots of kits have a preservative potassium sorbate to keep bottles from exploding (after back sweetening
..a wine whip is low tech and will help get the gas out so you can bottle early, the stories about explosions are rare but it does happen
..our consensus is top it off, many of us dump the gunk (lees) in a tallish jar in the fridge to let it settle and collect more liquid, the general consensus is an inch or less headspace every time you rack. Your original post was at the end of dec which is longer than we like with a big head space.
good luck! The first few batches are trial by fire to figure out how to do it with the tools available, and it gets easier!
I appreciate all the good information. You are right, trial by error I guess. Earlier tasting it tasted a little light, not nearly full bodied. I hope aging will help.
 

dmw_chef

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..at 0.996 gravity the fermentation should be finished so I wouldn’t expect to pop a bung, on a fresh fermentation there should be quite a bit of CO2 in the wine which will be trapped if “close it up“ means a solid bung. I put an air lock or silicone bung on for at least six months.
I've had wines in bulk for as much as 6 months pop solid bungs.

Personally, I think people wring their hands too much about headspace. Keep up with your k-meta additions as you rack, and go buy a bicycle tire inflator and a box of food safe co2 cartridges. $25 all in. Anytime you need to open the carboy, purge the headspace real good before closing it back up.
 

Justintime

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I have read opposing view on topping up after siphoning from primary fermentation to secondary fermentation. Should I top up or not? If I do, with what, wine or water?
I have a can of glass marbles that I sterilize and add to take up lost volume. It eliminates the whole diluting the wine or changing the ph problem. I am sure someone will have a problem with this, someone always does. It has worked for me.
 

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