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Sep 17, 2009
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I'm making two wines right now and completed the fourth step last night. This is the step where you rack, add metabisulphite, top up, and let sit for 2 weeks before bottling. These are my 4th and 5th kits and in all previous kits, I topped up with water as I didn't have any wine available then. With my quest for a fuller bodied wine, though, I decided to top up these two kits (a shiraz and melbac) with a previous wine. The wine I topped with wasn't either of those two styles (it was a sirah), but I think it'll be much better than adding over 750 mL of water.

My question is how important do people think it is to add the same style of wine to top up (perhaps requiring you to go out and buy a bottle or two) or do most people feel that most any old same-color wine will do? I doubt I'll notice any flavor difference from having 1/30 of the final product be a different style, but just want to see the lengths others go to.
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aren't shiraz and sirah the same wine just spelled different in different areas ?
I've read that WE kits allow water to be added. They apparently make them stronger initially, knowing that water is added to top up.

Personally, I top up with a similar wine.
In the US and France and some other countries we use Syrah. In Australia (very popular varietal there) they call it Shiraz.

I learned this when I first started, Syrah was the first kit I ever made.

I would def. top off each of these, even the yummy Malbec with what you have. Much better than water in my opinion.
Most people say top up any dry red with another dry red and don't worry whether a cab is the perfect companion to a malbec. I'm not smart enough to argue with them, so I do it. Haven't been disappointed yet.

Only thing I do is think blend. (Maybe this merlot will help soften the tannins of this cab.)

aren't shiraz and sirah the same wine just spelled different in different areas ?

Yes, they are from the same grape, but as I understand it, the growing conditions, climate etc, in Australia result in some minor? differences between the Shiraz and the Syrah - I have never taste tested one against the other so don't know how prominent the differences are.
I suppose these nuances are true of many grapes e.g. a Sauv Blanc from Australia vs one from California - so perhaps the difference in the Syrah/Shiraz grape is more than minor.
Cheers .. Doug
If you are just topping up a 6 gallon carboy with a bottle or 2 it wont change the wine profile at all but if yiou start needing more then that then I would get a wine that matches but if yiu are needing more then that thne you are doing something very wrong and need to change yor practice, i never need to use more then 1 bottle ever and most of the time dont need any. EWhen adding a fining agent or settin it aside to clear, tip the carboy to 1 side with a wedge as all the sediment will fall to one side then you tip it back the other way gently and rack off the side with little or no lees. You get more wine this way and less lees transfer.
OK - Last night I racked (WE Pino Noir Sel. Orig 0623609 0331) and was left with about 1125 mL (bottle and a half) of space to top off. Felt this was better than watering down the wine.

Long story short, my wife basically called me out on this (who knew she was such a purest...j/k) and I guess I am left with 2 Questions:

1. Is this amount of topping off space normal, after reading this thread it appears so?
2. In the future (WE Brunello kit coming in April) I do not want to be topping off with 50.00 bottles of Brunello, so I guess I could either rack to a 5 gallon carboy or could drop something in the 6 Gallon to increase the volume, thus limiting the air space.

Curious what everyone does in this situation, and if there are any recommendations on what to use to increase volume.


you dont need to top a brunello with a brunello. quite a few commercial wines out there are not 100% varietal. even when it says Carbernet Sauvignon on the label, often it really means it is at least 75% cabernet sauvignon... the minimum percentages differ from region to region and country to country but you get the idea.

any dry red will be fine for topping off up to 1.5L or so. more than that and id be looking for similar wines... but even with a brunello, you can get less expensive montepulcianos and rossos that would work...

as you get more homemade wine in your inventory this becomes less of an issue as you can use one of your own bottles.

as to increasing volume without adding liquid, some use sterilized marbles... but personally i find this too much effort and would prefer the additional bottles at the end over reduced yield and a bunch of marbles.
Like Wade said - 1-2 bottles in a 6 gallon carboy won't effect the flavor that much. I would use your Pinot as a top up wine. I've recently used my WE Pinot to top up my Cab. I'm not a purist, the Pinot hasn't imparted any bad flavors on the Cab. In fact I'm going to continue to use the Pinot as a topping wine.
The grape in a Brunello is 100% Sangiovese. I just opened an $18 bottle of Italian Sangiovese last night and enjoyed it. The major difference between the two wines is the control placed upon the Brunello. I must be oak aged for two years minimum and bottle aged for a minimum of four months. I am no wine making expert. However, after 31 years of harmonious matrimony, I might defer to the spouse if she thinks this is important. :)
Adding Pot Sorbate when topping off

Recently, I racked most of my wine that is ageing in carboys - some for the 2nd time and others for the 3rd time. In most cases I had to top off the carboys, and, with some I used a wine similar to the wine in the carboy and with others I used a simple sugar water solution. Whenever I added anything to top off the jug, I made sure that I added pot sorbate and pot met to the jug to prevent further fermentation. My question is..... When I add pot sorbate to the carboy, say on the 2nd racking, is the addition of sorbate still effective for the 3rd racking, or do I have to again add sorbate if I top off during future rackings? Thanks alot for any replies to this.
There is no reason to add more k-meta and sorbate when "topping off". Who told you to do so? Rule of thumb.. Once wine is stabilized with k-meta and sorbate add 1/8-1/4tsp of k-meta every 90 days. No reason ta add more sorbate.
You wine may be oversulfited. Whats the timing you have from when you stabilized to the last time you added the chemicals?
Thanks for the reply, Tom. In the past, I have always just added the sorbate once during my initial topping off, but I was starting to wonder if this was sufficient for the remaining ageing process. All of my wines originate from fruit, raw grapes, or from raw juice that I purchase from vineyards. The wine is ageing in the carboys from anywhere to 6 months to 10 months after the primary fermentation, depending on how soon it clears and stabilizes. During this time, I will rack it 3-4 times at which I test for pot met level and adjust accordingly. Everytime I rack I do not necessarily add more pot met - only when the test dictates it.
Thanks for your reply about the sorbate - I was starting to wonder about this.
I make alot of fruit wines. When I know I will add f-pac and/or backsweeten I will add a little more sorbate when stabilizing. Other than that I follow the 90 day rule. I too age some wines upwards of a year or more in the carboy.
I add another 1/2 tsp more Sorbate in a 6 gal batch so.. total of 3 1/2 for 6 gal

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