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First timer, recipe question on pear wine

hi folks,

been making beer for about a decade and just made my first must yesterday from the asian pears i picked from the tree in my yard. i used this recipe from jack keller, doubling it because i had 12 pounds of pears:

my question is, he is vague on this “topping up” thing. several times after racking, he tells you to “top up”. top up to what exactly? i don’t want to overly dilute the wine.


Some people use uncoated glass beads, or like wines. Argon gas is another option.

but i had inferred “topping up” meant to add water? elsewhere on his site he said that’s why he adds so much sugar in the recipes, to account for the h2o added later.

nevermind, i found it - the answer was hidden elsewhere on his site.

"As for topping up, you have to decide on your own strategy. Some recipes initially make a little more than a gallon (and I mean an American gallon, or 3.7854 liters). I often say to crush the fruit, add the sugar and other ingredients, and then add one gallon of water. Obviously, when the sugar is dissolved and the juice is pressed or squeezed from the fruit, you’ll have more than a U.S. gallon. When you transfer from primary to secondary, it would be nice if you had a jug that would take all of the liquid without overflowing and with exactly an inch of ullage (airspace between the top of the wine and the bottom of the bung) – a 4-liter, 4.5-liter (British gallon), or 5-liter jug, for example, might work perfectly. Then, when you rack later and lose some of the volume, you can rack into a smaller jug – for example, from a 4.5-liter jug into a 4-liter one, or from a 4-liter jug into a U.S. gallon jug. But, if you don’t have a variety of jugs such as described here, then just fill a gallon jug and put the excess into a smaller wine bottle of an appropriate size (750-mL, 500-mL 375-mL, 250-mL, 187-mL, or 125-mL). A #2 or #3 bung will fit these various wine bottle sizes to accept an airlock. You then use this excess wine to top up the gallon jug after racking.

Larger batches require different strategies. For a 6-gallon batch, for example, I would divide the 6 gallons into a 5-gallon carboy and a 1-gallon jug, ferment them side-by-side, and use the 1-gallon batch to top up the 5-gallon carboy. After using some of the 1-gallon batch, I would rack the remainder of it into a 3-liter jug. After topping up during the second racking, I would rack the remaining smaller batch into a 2-liter or half-gallon jug, etc. I have a variety of jugs and bottles that I use for “down-sizing” after using some wine for topping up a larger batch. These include 3-liter, 2.5-liter, 2-liter, 1.9-liter (1/2 U.S. gallon), 1.5-liter, 1-liter, 750-ml, etc.

You can also top up with a finished wine of the same kind or very similar to what you are making. However, if you don’t have a wine anywhere close to what you are making (nothing is quite like pumpkin wine, for example), any similarly colored and somewhat neutral-tasting wine will do.

You can also top up with bottled spring water or boiled and cooled water. Many of the recipes use a bit more sugar than necessary just so when you top up with water the alcohol still ends up at around 12% even after being diluted with the water. If you top up with wine the final alcohol content would differ.

Finally, many people simply use glass marbles or glass decorative pebbles to displace the volume of wine lost to racking. I myself have about 3 quarts of glass marbles I use for this purpose with some of my batches.

Yep, downsizing your vessel is the easiest way. I guess I was assuming you were looking for ways using the same size vessel.

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