> What do you use to top off your carboys on successive rackings? Can I use
> similar wine, like add some zinfandel. If I do that, what is the chance
> re-starting a fermentation as the new wine likely has some additional
> If I do that, will I then get a re-growth of yeast, resulting in wine that
> have to re-rack? I'm reluctant to just top off with water each time, as
> sure I'm diluting the flavor.
1.Top up with the same wine. Some wine is lost each time wine is racked, so
10 to 15 percent
of extra wine should be made specifically for topping up containers. Store
the extra wine in 5-gallon,
1-gallon or 1.5-liter containers, and use the wine from the smaller
2. Add any available DRY wine to fill the headspace. Most red wines are not
significantly affected by
small additions of other wines. Even white wine can be used, and sometimes
a small white wine addition
will actually improve the red color. Of course, red wines cannot be used to
top up white wines, so keep
the Cabernet out of the Chardonnay.
3. Top up with a DRY commercial wine of the same type. A bottle or two will
often eliminate the
headspace, and small additions of commercial wine often improves homemade
wine. The major
disadvantage here is the cost of the commercial wine.
4. Use inert gases such as nitrogen or argon to fill the head space. This
technique works well with
large stainless steel tanks, but it is more difficult to apply to some small
containers. Carbon dioxide gas
must be used with care because it is quickly absorbed into the wine and
produces effervescence. A little
spritz in white wine may be fine, but it is seldom appreciated in red table
wines. The cost of the storage
container, regulator and gas is often prohibitive for small producers.
5. Add clean, sanitized, glass marbles to the storage container to bring up
the wine level. This
method is easy to apply, but it has disadvantages. If the containers are
moved, the marbles roll around
and dislodge sediment. Sediment becomes trapped under the marbles, and the
trapped sediment makes
racking more difficult.
6. Add water. The disadvantages here are a small change in acidity and some
However, small additions of water may not be noticeable, and water is always
7. Add enough food-grade mineral oil to produce a six***th inch thick layer
on top of the wine.
Oil is not very suitable for long term storage, but it can prevent wine
oxidation for several weeks. Olive
oil has been used for this purpose for hundreds of years, so it is the
traditional material. But, olive oil
may leave some residual smell, and it is expensive. Oil should be
considered an emergency treatment.
It makes a big mess in wine containers, and cleaning up the residue requires
Professionals use the first method, and they always make extra wine just for
"topping up" their wine storage containers. They acquire a large
assortment of different size carboys, jugs and bottles so the right size
wine storage container is always
available. Most home winemakers prefer a combination of the first two
methods, but in an emergency,
any method should be considered because any reasonable way of eliminating
headspace is preferable to