Racking, Topping Up, And That Extra Little Bit

When I rack a wine or mead, I try to have empty containers of various sizes ready. The idea is to end up with the smallest number of full containers and the least amount of waste. I use 1-gallon jugs, half-gallon jugs, wine bottles (half, standard, and magnum), beer bottles, and even 8 oz (240 ml) coke bottles. That usually works out pretty well, but I was caught short when I racked my mead the other day.

A 1-gallon jug half-filled with mead.

All that headspace is dangerous, and I really could’ve used a half-gallon jug. What can you do when you just don’t have the right sized containers handy? First I reached for the sulfite. I normally go by the rule of thumb of adding a 1-campden-tablet equivalent every other time I rack. If I added sulfite at the first racking, for example, I would skip it the second time. This was one of the times I skipped the sulfite, so the 5-gallon carboy with the oak did not get any. But I sulfited this 1-gallon jug, and at double the normal rate. That doesn’t make it ok, but it might buy me a little time. Part 2 of my plan is to rack other wines and meads in the next day or two and combine this mead with them. I might use it to top some of them up, or combine extras from many different batches, including this one, into one container.

So work with what you have, but then put a “plan B” into action right away.

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