When looking at your chart for wine recipes, when you say it makes five gallons, is that five gallons of water plus the fruit and sugar or is it five gallons total with the water, fruit, sugar, etc included? I’m asking this because I want to know if I go over the five gallons, do I need to add more ingredients (yeast nutrient, etc.) according to how much I went over the five gallons?
Thanks for the great question and for giving us a chance to clear some of the confusion surrounding our wine recipes. I would like to add that this issue pretty much comes up with any of the wine recipes you might run across, whether it be from a friend, or in wine making books, or from our website.
Here is the short answer. You should end up with 5 gallons of wine while using no more than what is being called for in the wine recipes. The only variable is the water.
A simple way to approach this is to add water to the batch until the total volume reaches 5 gallons. After the first racking, when all the sediment and pulp is removed, you will then add additional water to bring the batch back up to 5 gallons.
This is known as topping up. On average you might have to add a half gallon of water back to the batch, but this amount can vary wildly depending on the type of wine you are making.
In certain cases where you know you are going to be removing a lot of pulp, you may want to go ahead and start the batch size a little more than 5 gallons. For example, this could be the case with any of the Muscadine wine recipes you might run across.
All in all, how much water you start out with is not too critical. Just be in the ballpark. The important thing is to end up with 5 gallons wine when you are finished. And yes, it is okay to add more water during the fermentation.
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.