Half full demijohn, will it cause issues in secondary fermentation?

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Ring Many

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Hi everyone,

I've been making some Plum wine. I've reached the secondary fermentation stage, so I've moved my wines into two, 1 gallon demijohns. There's less liquid than I thought there would be, so I wasn't able to fill the demijohn all the way.

Here's a photo showing them both:



So both are around 3/5 full. I've been reading up online about whether the demijohn not being full is going to cause issues, such as oxidisation etc.

It's a plum wine with Nottingham Danstar yeast, currently brewing at 18 degrees. If I move all of the liquid into one demijohn, then the remaining one only has 1/4 full, so I felt it was best to try and make them as equally filled as possible. I can hear one of them still bubbling ever so slightly.

I don't want to simply fill 1 one of them, because then I'll waste quite a bit, and I can't fill it with much else because it will dilute it.

Do you believe this is going to cause issues for me? It needs to remain like this for at least 2 weeks, then 3 weeks in another demijohn once racked. Any suggestions how to improve this setup, as I'm getting mixed signals as to whether this is going to cause oxidation.

Thanks.
 

bernardsmith

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Hi Ring Many - and welcome. Here's the thing: when wine is exposed to air there is certainty that it will oxidize. It's the same process as naked iron and water - rust. It may take a while and if your volume is small then you may finish the wine before the oxidized flavors predominate but predominate they will.
OK - so your approach is if you cannot save the whole batch then save nothing... But you could fill one container and that container will be protected so you will have what ? 1/5 of a container that will be exposed... isn't half a loaf better than no loaf? But you can save the plum wine in the second container if you look around for a mason jar* or a wine bottle or some other smaller bottle. Your local home brew store will sell drilled bungs that fit wine bottles or soda bottles and you can buy caps for mason jars that you can drill to fit a rubber grommet that will hold an airlock...
* Mason jars would not be my first choice as the surface area across the top is quite large compared to the surface area of say, wine inside a wine bottle where the wine reaches up into the neck.
 

CatawbaCat

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Fill up one container, and the rest should fit into a wine bottle. There are drilled bungs you can turn upside down that fit perfectly over a bottle top. I have a couple “leftovers” airlocked myself :)
 
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Ring Many

Ring Many

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Thanks for the replies everyone,

I decided to buy a smaller demijohn and transfer the wine contents across to be safe. There's a lot less headspace now:




I wanted it to be a little closer to the top, but sadly there wasn't enough. I didn't want to dilute with water or add plum juice from the store in case something was contaminated.

It's been in my room at 18 degrees for another 24 hours, sadly I haven't seen / heard any bubbling from either of them. Hopefully it isn't stuck in the secondary fermentation. I took a gravity reading at the start and after I transferred:

Starting: 1.074
Transfer to demijohn: 1.020

I'm using the Nottingham Danstar ale yeast to speed up the process, so it won't be as high ABV as regular wine, but it will brew faster.

I'll give it some more time and hopefully the secondary fermentation kicks in. Do you think that head space is enough, or does it need to be filled in more? Cheers.
 
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Ring Many

Ring Many

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the one on the right has too much headspace, although they both have too much for my liking.
Hi,
Thanks for the reply,

There isn't enough wine left over to fill it. Plus I don't have a smaller demijohn, it's only 1 gallon. Anything else I can top it up with? I'm worried the water will dilute it.
 
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Ring Many

Ring Many

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A white wine?
I was just reading online about topping up:

http://eckraus.com/wine-making-topping-up/

One suggestion is to add a combination of water and vodka, to ensure that the alcohol content isn't diluted. I can't add pure water as I'd estimate it needs at least 450ml of water to top up. Which is recommends only adding 1 pint (568ml) per 5 gallon. As this is only 1 gallon, I need to potentially add vodka.

It also recommends adding a similar wine. I do have some home-brewed California cabernet sauvignon, which is quite a dry, red wine so I doubt it's compatible.

How does that sound?
 

Yooper

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I was just reading online about topping up:

http://eckraus.com/wine-making-topping-up/

One suggestion is to add a combination of water and vodka, to ensure that the alcohol content isn't diluted. I can't add pure water as I'd estimate it needs at least 450ml of water to top up. Which is recommends only adding 1 pint (568ml) per 5 gallon. As this is only 1 gallon, I need to potentially add vodka.

It also recommends adding a similar wine. I do have some home-brewed California cabernet sauvignon, which is quite a dry, red wine so I doubt it's compatible.

How does that sound?
I would do a white wine, even a cheap "jug" wine. Or top up the bigger jug with more of the plum, and then find a smaller wine bottle or something for the smaller jug of wine. I use growlers, wine bottles, and even a grolsch beer bottle to store the excess wine that doesn't fit in the carboy, and then use that for topping up. They make stoppers for all of those size bottles, and an airlock fits in those.
 

AkTom

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Top up the glass from the plastic. Squeeze the plastic till the wine is up close to the top and tie a piece of rope around it to keep the level up. Or not.
Cheers
 
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