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how important is minimal headspace?

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Movinfr8

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Made 2 batches 4 gallon of "wine" with concord and wit grapes, and just read in an unrelated post that headspace needs to kept to a minimum, so since they are 4 gallon batches in 5 gallon carboys and they are a month and a half old, are they messed up? and if not what is the fix? I looked at wally world for a 4 gallon container to no avail. even thought about a polyethelene water bag, but I figgure that would flavor it unpleasantly.
 

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Can you rack to a 5 gallon carboy and a 3 gallon carboy (if they are the same wine)?

Minimal headspace is crucial and I keep my wines topped up to within an inch or two of the top once fermentation has stopped. Early in fermentation, there is co2 being produced and a little headspace is ok, but once it slows down you want to have a very minimal area to o2 transfer. Those carboys naturally get thin at the neck, and that is way- to protect your wine from oxidation.
 
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Movinfr8

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yuck, one is white and one is red, but since fermentation is over, do I need a airlock? maybe I can find something in one or two gallons....
 

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Well, airlocks are like $.89 cents, and so are the stoppers, so use whatever containers you have. Carlo Rossi wine jugs work well, and use a #6 stopper. You're going to be aging for a while, so I wouldn't use a plastic water jug. You could buy two 3 gallon carboys (they use #7 size stoppers) and two 1 gallon jugs, and be all set.
 
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Movinfr8

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not finding bottle, but how about adding a gallon more juice ath this late stage? It's been 2 months since I started the wine. Would it re-ferment? would this really mess things up?
 

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Movinfr8 said:
not finding bottle, but how about adding a gallon more juice ath this late stage? It's been 2 months since I started the wine. Would it re-ferment? would this really mess things up?
Just roll down to the local brew shop or wine store. The should have all kinds of different sizes and air locks.


In the future I suggest starting a batch about 1 gallon larger than your biggest carboy. I ferment 7 gallon batches then transfer to 6 gallon carboys. I then use half gallon and wine bottles to store the excess. As I rack I use the extra to keep my 6 gallon carboy full.

You wine should still be ok but you need to address this issue.
 
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Movinfr8

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just didn't know anything about wine, and tossed some grape juice in a carboy, but now with 2 months in, I hate to give up on the project. I really don't want to get even MORE equipment (In june I told SWMBO that "It'll all fit in this 5 gallon bucket, really!") that was before the kegerator, kegs etc. so if I can avoid more glassware, It'd be a good thing.
What if I primary ferment a gallon each more of the grape juice seperatly, then add it to the original in the carboys?
 
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Movinfr8

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will go on a quest for a recycling center, as we're not as into that down here, and that way I can use and re-recycle them!
 
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Movinfr8

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There aren't many recycling centers around here. I suppose that adding juice will not work, and I'm really not into 8 bottles in my bedroom anyway. last thought is. what about (don't laugh) sanitizing and adding marbles to fill the space? I can't see a problem with the plastic carboy, but the glass one would make me kinda nervous...
 

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Yes, I've used sanitized marbles. But you would need maybe 10 pounds of them! They don't reduce the headspace as much as you'd think. I used a whole container of them (a kid's playset size) in a one gallon jug and I think the level came up an inch or so.

Make sure you don't get marbles made in China- they may have lead in them.
 

karbinator

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lady at the wine shop today was talking about oxidizing (sp?)
wine when there is headspace........assuming the headspace to be colse
to the stopper...she said to top it off with more water.
would that hurt ?
 

karbinator

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Yooper....good idea / to use a complementary wine for topping off

I just started my Zinf concentrate batch today, and directions say the primary should hold 8 gallons, but to only bring it up to 6 gallons. So there's the headspace in my bucket of at least 3-4" , although it's only for 5-7 days, and
then off to the carboy topped off completely.

I wonder what a month like that would do to the wine?hmmm
 

karbinator

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Not to sidetrack the topic too much, ( i do apologize )
but my kit instructions didn't call for an airlock on the primary fermenter......but my only lid on the bucket has a hole, so I put an airlock on for sealing. Does this stuff really need to breathe room air to multiply yeast? I just read different instructions from another website that (conflict with kit instructions) say the primary must not be airlocked, or the yeast will not multiply rapidly within the 7 day primary stage. Any thoughts on this.....the batch was started about 7 hours ago.
 

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I don't airlock my primary at all when I make wine. The yeast need that oxygen. Unless the instructions call for it specifically to be airlocked, I use a clean towel to cover the primary.
 

karbinator

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YooperBrew said:
I don't airlock my primary at all when I make wine. The yeast need that oxygen. Unless the instructions call for it specifically to be airlocked, I use a clean towel to cover the primary.
Thanks Yooper !!!
 
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Movinfr8

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Ok. I just added 4 liters each of Carlo Rossi Paisano, and Rhine to my carboys, and found that I'm still about a fifth each short. Any suggestions for a wine to add?
 

brewbaker312

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i Noticed you are making concord. if it is welchs make some more juice and top off with that
 

yaeyama

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I used marbles for a 6 gallon batch. You wouldn't BELIEVE how many marbles I had to buy. And in Japan, marbles are really expensive. I think I spent the equivalent of about $100 on marbles. :-D

Mind you, I use them all the time now, so I guess it was worth it.
 

yaeyama

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Please, for the love of god, don't top up with commercial wine. You are making your OWN wine, right?

Imagine telling all your friends, "How do you like the wine I made? Well, actually, I didn't REALLY make it, it has 4 litres of Lonesome Charlie mixed in it". :p
 
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Movinfr8

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yaeyama said:
Please, for the love of god, don't top up with commercial wine. You are making your OWN wine, right?

Imagine telling all your friends, "How do you like the wine I made? Well, actually, I didn't REALLY make it, it has 4 litres of Lonesome Charlie mixed in it". :p
Well, If i had stomped grapes to do this I might agree, but I just threw juice in a (too large) carboy, then found out later, that it needed to be topped up. Next time (now that I have 4 liter bottles) I can adjust the size of the batch...


Speaking of which, how do I know when it is time to bottle?? and how long will it last? As in will it be good years from now? or is there a point where I'll open a bottle and not like what I pour out? I don't drink much wine myself, may give some as Christmas presents next year.
 
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