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Old 09-01-2007, 11:16 AM   #1
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Default Second racking: topping up

Hi, I just did my 2nd racking after a 10 day sit on the lees, as recommended by my recipe book. HOWEVER, there was a *lot* of sediment, and I ended up having to compensate for about 3 litres of wine (3/4 of a gallon!). Mind you, my original wine level when going from primary to secondary was lower than I would have liked, but I was worried about blowing foam, so I gave it a bit of head room.

I compensated by adding several bags of marbles (which, surprisingly, didn't really seem to do much for me ) followed by a full 2 litres of water. I was really tempted to draw over some of the lees to avoid throwing so much away. But, I stopped myself.

My starting gravity when I made the must was between 1.110 and 1.120 (I was supposed to shoot for 1.100, but I had a hell of a time using my hydrometer on my first go of it), and prior to reracking earlier it was between 0.960 and 0.970. (By the way, is that about 16% ABV?) I didn't take another reading after adding all that water, so I assume it is down about 1% point after topping up.

My recipe book mentions that the recipes therein were designed to specifically allow for topping up with cold water, and so I shouldn't be worried about dilution. Plus, the recipes allow me to top up at every racking, but I didn't need to do so when I went from primary to secondary. So, even though I have added 2 litres this time around, some of that is a "freebie" since I didn't do it last time.

The thing that I am worried about though is, the book doesn't mention how much I would be expected to top up. I was hoping for 1/2 litre or so, not almost a gallon!! The wine is still a rich, dark peachy colour so perhaps I haven't overly diluted it yet.

My next racking is planned for 3 weeks from now. Next time I will have to be very careful when I re-rack. If possible, I do NOT want to top up next time around. However, I don't think I will be able to afford the truckload or so of marbles that I would need to avoid it.

Your thoughts, advice would be appreciated.

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Old 09-01-2007, 12:07 PM   #2
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If your recipe specifies topping up with water, the "dilution" is probably figured into it, especially if the ABV was 16%! Topping up with water will help to make the wine less "hot" and probably didn't dilute the flavor much.

Usually after the first racking, I use a similar wine to top up (either commerical or homemade). For example, for my dandelion wine, I used pinot grigio. For my valpolicella kit, I used a commercial valpollicella. This way you aren't watering down your wine. I've used marbles, too, if there is only a tiny bit of headspace to fill.
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