Last Saturday we started our wine making classes back up at Porter House Brew Shop. We made Elderberry wine. (Just follow the link for the recipe we used.) We had a good time learning about how to make home made wine.
One of the questions I had was how much air to leave in the top of the carboy. I like to keep my carboy’s filled up above the shoulder. I top off with spring water, others have used wine must or juice from what wine they are making at the time. Another option is boiled tap water. Any of these are fine to top off a carboy.
All that being said, I’ve had carboys that have been filled slightly below the shoulder with no ill effects yet. Air in a carboy will increase the risk of contamination and oxidation of the wine. Contamination can occur from wild yeast or organisms getting into the wine and causing spoilage. Oxidation will give the wine a slight brown tint, and possibly some off flavors or odors. These conditions can be reduced if you add sulfite (Campden Tablets) at the beginning of the wine making process.
I use campden tablets in all my wine. I use them at the beginning of the process and I also add them after the wine is finished prior to sweetening my wine. This helps the wine keep from spoiling or oxidizing. If you don’t use sulfites in your wine, it is best to keep your carboys filled to the neck to minimize exposure to oxygen.
That is all I have today. We will be running wine making classes once a month on the second Saturday of the month at the Porter House Brew Shop. Please preregister so we know how many people are coming. I hope to see you there.