Before wine is ready to be dispatched to the market, it goes through a series of steps. One of the final stages of wine making process is its degassing.
This is a process of removing all the elements of carbon dioxide that are suspended in the wine after fermentation. In other soft drinks, this gas is always retained, but due to various factors that we are going to highlight here, it just has to be removed.
The process is quite involving and requires your full attention accompanied by some skills. In this article, we are going to highlight all the important facts that you need to know about degassing.
Importance of wine degassing
Before we go into deep details about the process, let’s first look at the main reasons why degassing is important and why it should always be incorporated into every wine making process.
The main goal of degassing is to get rid of carbon dioxide, which improves the wine’s taste and longevity. We can easily conclude that this gas has several adverse effects on the final drink. Here are the main reasons why you should do all that it takes to get rid of this gas:
- It causes carbonation,
- Carbon dioxide makes it taste acidic,
- The gas prevents wine from clearing properly.
Let’s talk about them in more details.
A) It causes carbonation
It is okay to have carbonated drinks, but when it comes to wine, it is a little bit different case. You would like your favorite wine to remain still.
Whites can have some fizzy sensation, but that is not acceptable with red types. You don’t even want to imagine taking a glass of fizzy and carbonated Zinfandel.
B) Carbon dioxide makes it taste acidic
Even though your favorite wine may be free from all acidic elements, the presence of carbon dioxide can make things to be different. If it exceeds some certain limits, it can cause some acidic sensation in the wine.
C) The gas prevents wine from clearing properly
Some wines are quite sensitive and they easily react with any suspended carbon dioxide. If they are not degassed, or the process is carried out clumsily, they will lack a seamless or fine clearing.
Even with all of these reasons, you may still want your drink to retain some carbon dioxide. A little bit of the gas can make wine to be lovelier and less boring. On the other hand, you should take note that even the sparkling ones that you see are free of carbon dioxide. So, let’s look at how you can go about it with the process.
Basic methods of wine degassing
There are three main methods that one can use to get rid of carbon dioxide:
- Natural wine degassing,
- Degassing using agitation method,
- Vacuum degassing.
Natural wine degassing
In this method, your wine will get rid of all the carbon dioxide by itself or in a natural way. Yours is to be patient and wait for the results. With time, all the elements of suspended carbon dioxide will find their way out. This will leave you with a tasty and gas-free drink.
Most commercial wineries deploy natural degassing methods. It is a suitable method for them because they usually leaving their wine to age before releasing it to the final consumers. To them, getting rid of carbon dioxide is not an issue because they will still achieve this goal without putting much effort.
Do not be misled into thinking that natural method of degassing means throwing caution to the wind. You still need to be careful with how you handle the process.
First, avoid storing your wine on the lees. Collect all the sediments then allow the gas to escape. Leaving these remnants can leave your drink with some unfamiliar flavor.
Degassing using agitation method
Another effective method of removing CO2 is known as agitation. The method is carried out using a stirring rod that is usually attached to a power drill.
During the process, you are supposed to run this drill towards one direction for at least
30 seconds then abruptly switch to the opposite direction also for half a minute. Ensure that all the directions are affected by the process as this will guarantee an even result in the whole wine.
While agitating your wine, take precaution not to dwell too much on its surface as this can expose it to too much oxygen. The
good news is that this issue is well taken care of by most agitation kits come with the recommended degassing period that ranges between 2 to 6 minutes.
In this method, you will be required to create a tight sealing at the top carboy. The air inside will escape leaving a vacuum. Some of this air include carbon dioxide and it will come out in the form of visible bubbles that will be seen floating on the carboy.
The process can be quite long especially if the wine was not fully fermented as some CO2 gas will still be released even while degassing is underway.
One factor that can affect the effectiveness of vacuum degassing is the strength of the vacuum created. Most wine preservation tools in the market will limit you on the vacuum intensity though you can still get ones that can produce strong vacuums.
Here’s a very nice video that talks about some things in more details. If you like to learn more interactively, go ahead and play the video below.
How do you know when the wine has been properly degassed?
Whichever method that you used to eliminate CO2, it will be only wise if you know whether your efforts have yielded any meaningful results. There are two common methods of knowing determining if the degassing process has been successful:
- Shaking a sample of the degassed wine,
- Tasting the wine manually.
The first and probably the simplest one is to shake a sample of the degassed wine. Fill your test jar with this sample then put a bung plug or even your bare hand on the open side of the jar. Shake it for 20-30 seconds then open it.
If you hear some sound of gas escaping from the jar, know that there’s still some work to be done. The downside of this method is that some gas bubbles may still exist even after you have done a thorough job.
Another method is to taste the wine manually. If you feel some presence of bubbles, know that it still has some elements of carbon dioxide.
Although these two methods are not 100% accurate, they can still give you an impression of what to expect from a degassed wine.