topping up?

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May 12, 2009
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Hudson Valley, NYS
I'm a little confused about when to top up. I'm making a chardonnay kit. I racked from the plastic primary pail to a secondary carboy a couple of days ago. I used an Italian 6 gallon carboy, which means there's some headspace. I have to rack again in a couple of weeks to another carboy. I'll use my Mexican 6-gallon, which means there won't be much headspace at all. Am I correct that it's okay to have some headspace in the first racking, and that I really don't have to top up until I rack again? The instructions don't mention topping up until the second racking.
You are correct. As long as active fermentation is going on there is enough gas to protect the wine. After activity stops you want to limit head space and the air in there so your wine doesn't turn on ya.
Okay, here's the problem though...........with this kit, I was supposed to rack in 6-8 days, once the SG got to 1.020 or lower. Well, on day 6, when I first checked it in the primary, the SG was actually at .998! So I racked it right away. The level of the wine in the carboy is at the shoulder. There was some bubbling at a slow rate for a day after I racked it. Maybe CO2?

Am I still okay?

You are fine. The reason they say to top it after 2nd racking is to leave room to degass. This is an important step. Best to get a degasser that attaches to a drill. When degassing you will need the extra space. Just degas before adding the finnings then top off
Sounds like you are going good. You are correct. The first racking is mearly going from primary to secondary for fermentation. The though of going to the carboy is to help protect the wine if fermentation ends and you don't get it racked in an appropriate time. Just a little insurance factor. Keep the questions coming. BTW, which kit (brand, level) is this? The reason I ask is that different manufacturers give different time frames in their directions. It sounds like a Wine Expert kit but just thought I'd ask.