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WineXpert topping off carboy with wine

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Lukaswine

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I am making two kits, one is Diablo red (4 week kit) and I am 10 days in to the clearing timeline and forgot to top of the carboy with wine. there is a head space that would take at least three bottles of wine. Is it ok, to add the wine now and a continue my days of clearing, which ends on 10/5th? Of course if it is perfectly clear then I rack again.

2nd question: I did the same thing with Luna Rossa (no skins 6 week kit) I can't multitask :rolleyes: This kit doesn't say to top off with wine but there is head space for 2-3 bottles of wine. I am not sure what to do. It rack time ends on 10/11.
 

Johnd

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Top off you carboys with as similar a wine as you can find. It’s ok to top off during clearing, just try to add the wine gently so you don’t stir up the sediment.
 

Lukaswine

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Top off you carboys with as similar a wine as you can find. It’s ok to top off during clearing, just try to add the wine gently so you don’t stir up the sediment.
Okay, can I used boxed wines...it's cheaper?
 

Lukaswine

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Top off you carboys with as similar a wine as you can find. It’s ok to top off during clearing, just try to add the wine gently so you don’t stir up the sediment.
Thank you ! :)
 

winemaker81

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@Lukaswine, are you using a 6 gallon/23 liter carboy? If so, I recommend getting a 5 gallon/19 liter carboy, and put the excess in smaller containers.
 

Lukaswine

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Good idea. I have two six gallon. I had to purchased a 7 gallon fermentation because the kits instructions recommended. But I still has to add one entire box wine to fill to the neck of the carboy.
 

winemaker81

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The kit instructions are brain dead in some respect, but to be fair, they are designed so that a beginner with absolutely no knowledge can be successful each time.
 

bstnh1

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The new Winexpert instructions say that topping up during the clearing process is unnecessary. Maybe so, but I get nervous about leaving a lot of head space sitting there for up to 6 weeks. I top up with some of my own stock.
 

winemaker81

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The new Winexpert instructions say that topping up during the clearing process is unnecessary. Maybe so, but I get nervous about leaving a lot of head space sitting there for up to 6 weeks. I top up with some of my own stock.
I've got 2 WE kits going ... didn't more than glance at the instructions as I've made so many. I will read them through.

While I leave head space if there is active fermentation (I first rack at ~1.010), once fermentation is done, I want minimal head space. Yeah, I'm very untrusting of leaving head space for weeks.
 

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Over the past 18 months I have EMed a handful of WE kits and when doing so I have left the wine in the 6.5 gal primary fermentation bucket. The longest time according to my notes was 41 days. I sealed the bucket and used an air lock after the primary slowed. I did this to get the benefit of EM but I had no other means to leave it on the skins. One of the kits is aging in bottles and the others are still bulk aging so final results are pending. My question is, if I have suffered some oxygenation how would it express itself? The few samples I have swiped have been good and I have kept them topped up since being in carboys.
 

winemaker81

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The longest time according to my notes was 41 days.
I'd be concerned for 3 reasons: 1) reaction with the plastic fermenter; 2) oxidation; and 3) off flavors from the lees.

#1 may not be an issue with modern food grade plastics. My concerns on that may be old fashioned and out of date.

#2 may also be less of an issue, as the fermentation was active when the the bucket was sealed, and the heavier CO2 will push out all other gases. I'm a bit paranoid about oxidation, but again, my concern may be overblown.

One check for oxidation is to look at the color. Pour a wine glass 1/3 full and tilt so the wine goes almost to the rim, and hold up to the light. Do you see a brown tinge? Also, the wine will have an off flavor.

#3? This (IMO) is the big issue. The gross lees is mostly grape solids, and it will start to rot when it forms a layer. I've read different opinions on how long this takes, anywhere from a day (which my personal experience says is wrong) to several weeks. I have left wine too long on the gross lees and it developed an off flavor. The best I can describe it is the wine tasted musty.

If the lees affected the flavor, you'll taste something that isn't right. Taste side-by-side with a similar wine, and look for off flavors.

If the wine is tasting good now? I'd say your experiment is a success. I can't say if the method simply works, or if Dionysus favored you.
 

Johnd

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As for topping off with box wine... you will never make good wine better by using a lesser grade. Use the good stuff and put what is left over in a glass. BONUS!
You’ll also never make a good wine any better by using great wine to top off with, you’ll just waste some great wine. Drink the high quality stuff, top off with the most “like” wine you can find.
 

winemaker81

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I concur. When I need commercial topup wine, I typically buy a (IMO) reasonably priced varietal or blend that I like better than my own wine. For the cost of that 1 bottle, I'm protecting my investment in the entire carboy, not just money but my time and love.

That said, protecting the investment is the primary factor. Rather than leave a large head space, top up the carboy with whatever you can. Or add clean glass marbles or move to a smaller container.
 

Lukaswine

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As for topping off with box wine... you will never make good wine better by using a lesser grade. Use the good stuff and put what is left over in a glass. BONUS!
Ok, good advice.
 

joeswine

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Just my thoughts 🤔, you'll never make a good wine of your own if you add someone else's finished product to yours, make sense?
Rack down, that's the correct action to take.
 

BMac

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I have a completely different view on things. While many people, especially people just starting out WILL top up with water (I have done this) and truthfully, I have little problem with this, as kits are intended to be 23 L, if it is low, it most likely had not been topped up properly to begin with.
I live in Canada, where there is no such thing as cheap wine, so I personally don't feel like using a "cheap" $15 bottle of wine as top up is reasonable value.
My suggestion would be (at least starting out) would be make a cheap kit (10L grand cru for example; or even Costco kits) of neutral wine (Merlot for red, Pinot Grigio for white perhaps) then save a few bottles specifically for top-up. That way, it is still getting topped up with wine instead of water at a very minimal cost.
 

joeswine

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The bottom portion of your comments makes better sense , that your not doing your first kits with a large out lay of cash and you can learn from the norm,
even still the contras can be very different ,take it from a guy who's made a lot of cheaper wine kits, ( Tweaking cheap wine kits) their the kind of kits to experiment with and get to know the tools of the craft and the do's and don't.

Racking down gives the wine maker a truer sense of what is actually happening to their product in actual time.
 
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