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Trubador

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I'm in the middle of my first batch of wine. It's a Winexpert Selection series merlot. I added the sulfites, sorbate and something else I forget offhand on Sunday, I degassed using a mix stir. I also checked hydrometer reading, it was 0.992 at 68 degrees. The original gravity was 1.092 at 70 degrees.

I added about one quart of water to top off; however this did not bring it to within 2 inches of top, I would need another quart to bring it up that high, so I opted not to do it at this time. Next week I will be transferring to another carboy for final "polishing" and I plan to top it up to within 2 inches with a commercial merlot.

Is there anything severely wrong with this? I didn't want to dilute the wine too much with water to top off yet at the risk of oxidation. I figured a quart wouldn't hurt, but two quarts seemed a lot. So it will spend 8 to 10 days like this until I rack to carboy and top off with similar wine.

Any suggestions? or am I doing things ok?
 

smurfe

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You really need to get some cheap commercial Merlot or any cheap red dry wine to use to top up. Once you stabilize and degas you are not producing CO2 that will blanket and protect the wine. Wine Expert Selection kits can take up to one liter of water without diluting the wine but if further topping off is needed, a like wine should be used. It doesn't have to be the same varietal though. When I made my last merlot I used a Cabernet Sauvignon to top with.

Smurfe :)
 

Trubador

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You really need to get some cheap commercial Merlot or any cheap red dry wine to use to top up. Once you stabilize and degas you are not producing CO2 that will blanket and protect the wine. Wine Expert Selection kits can take up to one liter of water without diluting the wine but if further topping off is needed, a like wine should be used. It doesn't have to be the same varietal though. When I made my last merlot I used a Cabernet Sauvignon to top with.

Smurfe :)
so, are you saying that i should top it up now prior to its racking next week?
 

Trubador

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You really need to get some cheap commercial Merlot or any cheap red dry wine to use to top up. Once you stabilize and degas you are not producing CO2 that will blanket and protect the wine. Wine Expert Selection kits can take up to one liter of water without diluting the wine but if further topping off is needed, a like wine should be used. It doesn't have to be the same varietal though. When I made my last merlot I used a Cabernet Sauvignon to top with.

Smurfe :)
Since it has been sitting like this since saturday, do you think i did major damage to the wine?
 

smurfe

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Yes, you need to top up now. You need to top off as soon as you stabilize since there is no CO2 being produced to protect the wine. I doubt you did any severe damage to your wine but the longer it sets to a potential oxygen exposure, the higher the chance of oxidation.

Think of it like this. Have you ever opened a bottle of wine and had a glass and put the cork back in the bottle and then a couple days later pulled the cork again and had another glass and you tasted a mild "wang" in the wine? That is oxidation starting due to the O2 exposure in the bottle. The longer it sits not topped up, the further that taste potential can travel through your wine. A mild bit of oxygenation is preferred right before drinking to open the wine up to its full flavor potential but it will diminish to a vinegar type taste fairly quick.

Smurfe :)
 
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Trubador

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Yes, you need to top up now. You need to top off as soon as you stabilize since there is no CO2 being produced to protect the wine. I doubt you did any severe damage to your wine but the longer it sets to a potential oxygen exposure, the higher the chance of oxidation.


Smurfe :)

Thanks for the info! I will top up tonight when I get home from work. It will have sat 5 days not quite topped up, it probably only needs 1/2 to 3/4 of a bottle of wine to get it there, but given the oxidation potential you mention, I am worried that 5 days sitting like that is too much. I'll just have to wait and see, unfortunately it will be three to four months before I plan to drink the wine, so I won't be able to tell how much damage I did until then. Hopefully the oxygen hasn't pervaded the whole carboy of wine.
 

cpfan

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Thanks for the info! I will top up tonight when I get home from work. It will have sat 5 days not quite topped up, it probably only needs 1/2 to 3/4 of a bottle of wine to get it there, but given the oxidation potential you mention, I am worried that 5 days sitting like that is too much. I'll just have to wait and see, unfortunately it will be three to four months before I plan to drink the wine, so I won't be able to tell how much damage I did until then. Hopefully the oxygen hasn't pervaded the whole carboy of wine.
IMHO, Smurfe exaggerates. You added the sulfite to the wine. It will protect the wine. You have a 'small' amount of air in a carboy with an air lock. That air will bind with the SO2 from the sulfite and the wine won't oxidize.

Personally I do not go overboard topping up wine. And it turns out pretty good in the long run. At least that's what my customers think..I run a Ferment on Premises.

Steve
 

Luc

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Trubador,

First don't panic, take it easy.

Second, do you have any kids ??? If you do go steal their glass marbles, or better go to a dollar shop and buy your own for a few dollars. Sanitise them in a sulphite solution and gently (use a nylon stocking) drop them in. They will raise the wine level without having to dilute the wine. I bought enough to raise the level to an equivalent of 1 liter (about a quarter of a gallon) for about 4 USD in euro's.

Or maybe your local winery has a product called wineprotector. A cannister with CO2 gas or nitrogen gas that will put a protective layer on your wine without letting oxygen in. It is no good for long time aging but will keep your wine protected for a few days until you start bottling.

Luc
 

Trubador

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Thanks for all the advice. I topped it up tonight, it took another 1/2 liter of wine so it was pretty close to topped up anyway.

I'll be racking to another carboy on saturday or sunday and it will sit there for about 3 to 4 weeks prior to bottling.

I'll be posting some additional questions about bottling once it gets a bit closer.

Again, thanks for all the help with this and several previous questions I've had. Great site!

:)
 

smurfe

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IMHO, Smurfe exaggerates. You added the sulfite to the wine. It will protect the wine. You have a 'small' amount of air in a carboy with an air lock. That air will bind with the SO2 from the sulfite and the wine won't oxidize.

Personally I do not go overboard topping up wine. And it turns out pretty good in the long run. At least that's what my customers think..I run a Ferment on Premises.

Steve
You can think what you want but I follow the directions. There is no way I am going to tell someone to not worry about a potential problem. I did not say it was a drastic matter but there IS the potential for oxidation. Since I can not visualize the carboy and see exactly where the level is at to determine the potential liquid surface to air ration, all I can recommend is that they do as the directions state. That IS why the manufacturer gives us a set of directions.

Remember to that the sulfite levels in wine kits is considerably lower than in a commercial wine. If I remember correct it is only 1/3 the level of a commercial wine. I would not count on there being enough sulfite's to adequately protect the wine if there is a large enough surface area exposed to air. Even adding the extra 1/4 tsp will not bring the levels up to that of a commercial wine. If there were adequate sulfite's, would the manufactures stress topping up as soon as the wine is stabilized?

As you know,the manufacturer warranties their product if made following the direction, point blank. I think it would be very irresponsible for me to tell someone to not worry about it, their wine have an issue, they contact their retailer or manufacturer and get told sorry buddy, you didn't follow the directions. Since you are a retailer I presume, I am sure you have no issue with refunding someone their money for a sub par wine from poor winemaking practices. IMHO, not a good business practice but hey, its your reputation on the line, not mine.

As of this week, I operate a commercial vineyard and winery. I was chose for this task due to my knowledge in winemaking and the owner visiting my home process and sampling my wines. He tested my knowledge pretty hard and I didn't have the Internet sitting in front of me to look up an answer. I am darn sure going to continue to follow expected practices in winemaking to make the best product possible and not half a$$ anything in the production process. My product is going to be sitting on the shelves of the local groceries and liquor stores next to other local competitors. It better continue to be good or it won't be sitting there anymore.

Now, to those reading, I am not saying I am an expert. I have made dozens of kits though without a failure. I have made a couple sub par batches by trying to tweak things or by getting lazy and not following the direction to the letter such as waiting too long to rack a wine. These mistakes, although nothing drastic were all my fault. I didn't have anyone tell me not to worry about it, everything will be OK. I made the decisions.

So, I will continue to try to answer questions. You can take the advise or you can ignore it. It is your choice. I am not saying those that throw up the BS flag are wrong either. It is only my advise from documented experience, not from my assumptions. It is all from the book which I base my personal opinion on.

Thank you

Smurfe :)
 

cpfan

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Smurfe:

1) Congrats on becoming a professional winemaker.

2) IMO, the surface area matters only when there is unlimited air access. When there is a 1/2 litre of air in the top of the carboy that is a finite amount of oxygen unless the air lock is dry or is taken out. Once this amount of oxygen is bound to the SO2, there is no more oxidation happening.

3) Yes, you are right to be concerned about oxidation of the wine. I just think that it was not happening in this case.

4) I have been making wine for customers for over 5 years. Repeat customers & referrals from other customers. The wine made in my store has been compared very favourably to wine made in similar stores.

5) BTW, Vineco's instructions do NOT recommend topping up.

Steve
 

Luc

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As of this week, I operate a commercial vineyard and winery.
Smurfe :)
Hey Smurfe that's great news :)

CONGRATULATIONS !!!!!

And please don't be offended, as far as I can see nobody is attacking you. :eek:

Luc
 
C

Caplan

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Not sure why this thread got so heated! I'll agree with Luc though - Just relax guys! :D
 

fun4stuff

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Trubador,

First don't panic, take it easy.

Second, do you have any kids ??? If you do go steal their glass marbles, or better go to a dollar shop and buy your own for a few dollars. Sanitise them in a sulphite solution and gently (use a nylon stocking) drop them in. They will raise the wine level without having to dilute the wine. I bought enough to raise the level to an equivalent of 1 liter (about a quarter of a gallon) for about 4 USD in euro's.

Or maybe your local winery has a product called wineprotector. A cannister with CO2 gas or nitrogen gas that will put a protective layer on your wine without letting oxygen in. It is no good for long time aging but will keep your wine protected for a few days until you start bottling.

Luc
are glass marbles just as good as topping up with a similar wine?
 
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Luc

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IMHO Yes,

Indeed glass marbles are as good for topping up as a similar
wine.

A similar wine is not the same wine. So you will be bringing in
some extra and different ingredients.

Glass marbles bring nothing to your wine (it is an inert material) so they are the safest way to go. But as head space might be big it could take a lot of marbles
so a lot of money :rolleyes:

If that is the case top up with a similar wine.

Luc
 
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