I am not to this point yet, but was thinking about the second fermenting stage after you transfer your must to the carboy. Since I have never done this before I don't know what to expect as far as liquid volume. I am trying to make crabapple wine. I am using a 5 gallon primary fermenter. I am on my second day after adding the yeast. So far things are progressing. The apples are loose inside the fermenter. I push them down and stir a few times a day. I'm sure after extracting the fruit to strain the volume level will be reduced.
What happens if the liquid level in the second fermenter is less. Should you top off to a certain level? If so, what do you top it off with? I have read that too much air space in the carboy is not good creating too much oxygen. I would appreciate any feed back.
Lilrob, I think it is the same as with other wines and you can top it up with water...
As long as you are keeping close eye on the specific gravity level you are ok. Rack the wine at 1.10 to the secondary, don't worry about topping off till you get below 1.0, all you have to do is keep an eye on the ferm until it is not super violent so it doesn't foam over. Then top it up to about two inches below the top of the carboy or an inch or so below the stopper with the airlock in it. I don't know how long ago you started this project but add some pectic enzyme if you have a decent hydrometer reading so as to convert the starch to sugar, it will reduce the haze.
The point in topping off the carboy is to reduce the surface area of the wine so that there is less exposure to oxygen. The reason you do this is because after the spec grav drops below 1.10 there really is not a lot of CO2 produced which normally protects the wine, and after the initial stages of fermentation (when you actually need oxygen for the yeast to grow) you don't really have any use for it.
This is pretty decent advice for your current batch provided you made this from a recipe that was for 5 gallons. If it was for 3 or something do not top it to 5, get a smaller carboy or something like a reliance fermenter, which is kinda like those old water carriers they used to use for camping, plastic and compressible.
DGreene, thank you so much for this explicit information. I hope Lilrob will read this soon and tell us how he gets on with his crabapple wine
Thanks again for the advice. I have already added enzyme to the initial stage of the must. The liquid is currently a very pink opaque. I have read that this isn't unusual at this stage so I wasn't too concerned, but if you think adding more would help clarify it a bit I will add some more when I add it to the carboy. How much more would you add to a 5 gal. container of liquid. I didn't know if too much would affect the taste.
You don't need to add more enzyme, what it had to do it already did.
We will talk about clearing when it comes time for that. Let the stuff settle out naturally works well, for about 3 months, then rack and add bentonite.
I am reading here and following it. I am learning as well (and I thought I knew pretty much about it already... boy was I wrong )
Top it off with clean glass marbles sterilized in a camden solution.
What a great idea Cory! Thank you!
A new way to top up carboy without water or marbles.
Please search keywords "Wine Better-Topup" on youtube and amazon.com.