Topping off - Head Room

Winemaking Talk - Winemaking Forum

Help Support Winemaking Talk - Winemaking Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Jun 22, 2009
Reaction score
I've tried looking for an answer to this, but I'm still not quite sure about my situation. Against my LBS's advice, I'm racking my 6 gal wine kits from the fermenter into 6 gal carboys. They suggested buying a 5 gal and then smaller jugs for the remained to avoid topping off with other wine.. My uncle did his that way, and I didn't like all the multiple sized jugs to store, siphoning into multiple containers, etc. Not to mention my uncle is storing all of his containers here!

Anyways! So here is my Cellar Classic RJ Barolo Bianco - tasted amazing when I racked it, by the way. I used one bottle of a like wine to top off, but it's still this low! Is this OK or should I grab another bottle? That head of bubbles is just about gone now, and the wine is sitting maybe a half an inch higher than you see there. Also, I never bulk age, I go right into bottles on day 42/ish. I'm not sure if that makes a difference on whether or not I top off since there'll be less time in the carboy.

Please see attachment for image. Thanks in advance!!!

Last edited:
quite honestly you should be safe...usually enough co2 in there for your short term storage...however you could go get something like straight glass marbles...sterilize and add in so that the air space is reduced
I agree with Al as thats not much headroom on that one especially for very short term storage. No problem at all.
OK, thanks. Here's an updated picture from this morning with the bubbles down. You think i'd be better off leaving it, rather than buying another bottle of like wine to top off?? I'd mind less if I were adding a wine I made. Do you think I made a bad choice in not heeding my LBS's advice??

I think at that level you are fine and adding a bottle to get it up to that level was smart. If you went to a smaller vessel you wouldnt have had to go out and add a commercial bottle to it but even then youll get that bottle back. I prefer the smaller vessel way myself so I dont have to add something different to my wines and I know that having another vessel in my cellar will always come in handy down the line.
Short term is okay and if in doubt keep it cool. I personally always get mine around an inch from the bung. I do bulk age a year though.
thanks for all the great information guys. Steve, I didn't know temperature had an effect on oxidation, bad or good. If so, it is sitting in my cellar at around 60-62 deg F. That OK?

Again, thanks all. I can't wait until this one's done. It has some serious potential--tasted it upon racking from fermentation and tastes amazing!
Temp plays a role and I will tell you that those temps will make your wine hold in C02 and doing that will not let a wine clear properly. To degas your wine good you need to get the temps up to about 75. Also even if you do get it degassed, the fining agent wont work that well at those temps either. You should really get the temps up for all these things to fall into place.
I didn't know this. Well, the degassing part, the wine was about 75, as it came right out of my primary which was brew belt'ed. But it has since dropped in temp since then. The instructions state that after moving to the glass carboy, to keep it in an elevated place 59-66 degrees. My last batch, I kept it around 63 and cleared wonderfully. However, I had an issue with CO2, which cleared up after a few days of VacuVin pumping.

Sorry, i'm a newb, and I was told to stick to the directions. But, by all means, you guys probably know more, so let me know when to stray away from the directions.
Ive had way too many problems withn wines clearing at those temps but only when using a fining agent. Those temps are actually better for clearing a wine if not using a fining agent. I would feel inclined to say that most of the problems with a wine not clearing is because lots of people dont degas their wines good enough especially when not using a drill mounted stirrer and attemting this process by spoon.
When I degassed, i used a drill mounted whip. Per the instructions, I degassed for over 10 minutes. Isn't Bentonite a fining agent? I used that in the primary fermentation, but left it behind. Does that matter?
It is a fining agent but using in the beginning is mainly just to help drop out the main solids in the wije and make sureb there is no protein haze to contend with.
ok i understand.. so since it was left behind, i don't have them to worry about this time around, thus having difficulty with clearing?
removing the heavy solids prevents the lees in there now from spoiling like leaving a fruit in a wine too long can. Also removing the proteins that can cause a haze early can prevent what is much harder to remove later.

Latest posts