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Degassing Homemade Wine

CO2 GasAt the very center of wine making is the process of fermentation. Fermentation occurs because the yeast want to consume the sugars in a wine must. As a result the sugars are converted into both alcohol and CO2 gas by the fermentation. Normally as winemakers, we are concerned about the alcohol, but in this post we are going to change directions and talk a little about the gas.

Almost all of the CO2 produced during a fermentation dissipates into the air and goes away very quickly, but not all of it. Any liquid, wine included, has the ability to hold some CO2 gas for a period of time. This CO2 gas is the same stuff that puts the fizzy in soda pop, beer and even the sparkle in champagne, but when it comes to wine we don't want CO2 gas to do anything but be gone.

A Little Degassing Background
When I first started making wine, degassing was not even a word in the winemaker's vocabulary. Finished homemade wines always sat around long enough in bulk glass jugs before bottling, that they degassed themselves naturally. Wines back then needed extra time to clear, and along with this time the wine was able to release all the CO2 gas it contained.

But things changed when 28 day and 6 week wine kits came onto the scene. These kits allowed the home winemaker to bottle their wines in just 28 days. This is not enough time for the CO2 gas to escape on its own. Because of this, the wine kit producers added the extra step of degassing in their homemade wine instructions.

How Do You Degas A Wine?
A portion of the CO2 gas can stay saturated in a wine indefinitely because the gas molecules will lightly bond with the wine, but by agitating the wine with something as simple as a stirring spoon, the gas molecules will start to release and float to the surface. If you stir the wine long enough, all but an untraceable amount of the CO2 gas will release. This may take a little stirring or a lot, depending on the amount of gas.

One way to speed up the process is to use a degassing/mixing paddle. The paddle attaches to a hand drill just like a drill bit would. This significantly reduces the amount of labor and time needed to degas a wine.

Another one of our, lesser known, wine making tips is to use a wine preserving vacuum pump, like our Vacuvin Wine Saver or any other hand-held wine preservation system to degas the wine. By putting the vacuum pump directly over the air-lock hole of a rubber stopper, you can literally pump the CO2 gas out of a glass jugs or plastic fermenters.
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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.

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Comments (22)

Name: John Thomas
Time: Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I've been stirring my wine for 4 days now, 4 to 5 times a day for about a minute and I still have foam or bubbles. Do I just keep this process up until there are no bubbles or did I screw up somewhere?

Name: Customer Service
Time: Wednesday, December 7, 2011

There is not reason to wait between degassing periods. Just keep stirring until no more bubbles are releasing. It is important to understand that if you splash the wine while stirring, you will saturate some air into the wine. This will cause bubbling/foaming as well. So I would look closely to see if this is now the cause of the bubbles. Something else that is not mentioned in the above article is that the colder the liquid the tighter the bond between the CO2 and the wine. If your wine is very cold the could be the reason that your wine is reluctantly giving up the CO2. Temporarily warm the wine up ito 70F if this is the case.

Name: Mindy
Time: Wednesday, March 28, 2012

how would you recommend warming it up? Ours it taking hours..and I'm pretty sure its because the temp of the wine is much lower than when we started. I dont know any room in our house that is 72 or higher.

Name: Customer Service
Time: Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Please don't misunderstand our previous comment about temperature. You do not want the wine warm or hot. You just don't want it cold.

Name: Tom
Time: Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Does it help to pour the wine from one container to another to degas it?Thnxx

Name: Customer Service
Time: Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tom, this is a great question. You could pour the wine back and forth and it would release the CO2 from the wine, but it would also introduce excessive oxygen into the wine. This will cause the wine to eventually oxidize. If you have done this already, I would recommend adding a dose of metabisulfite to the wine to help drive out some of the oxygen. The goal with degassing is to agitate the wine without splashing. It is the splashing that allows air to saturate into the wine.

Name: Ray Hammond
Time: Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Hello, I use your kits however am in no hurry to bottle preferring at least six months of age time. After initial fermentation in a six gallon plastic bucket, I transfer to glass carbouys. I then pour into a fresh carbouy at about a month to get the wine off the sediment. How can I transfer off the sediment again at three months and degas without adding oxygen? And why is oxygen so bad? What are the effects to the wine? My prefernece is not to add sulfites. Please advise. Thank you.
Ray Hammond

Name: Customer Service
Time: Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Ray, the reason oxygen is so bad is because it oxidizes the wine. Like an apple that's been bit will turn brown, a wine will turn brown as well. I would suggest getting a degassing/mixing paddle. This will allow you to degas without getting too much air into the wine. I understand that you do not want to use sulfites in your wine. Please realize that not doing so will shorten the life of your wine. You might want to take a look at the article "Controlling Oxidation When Making Wine" that is listed on this blog: http://blog.eckraus.com/blog/wine-making-tricks-and-tips/controlling-oxidation-making-wine

Name: matty
Time: Monday, November 26, 2012

I have made wine from fresh grapes about 500lb,this past spring (california grapes),and now I am at the scond fermantations .for some reason in one of the 5gal, bottle there is a white residue on the top of the wine. can you tell me what could it be? thank you, Matty.

Name: Customer Service
Time: Monday, November 26, 2012

Matty, it's hard to know for sure without seeing it, but most likely it is a bacterial infection of some kind. This can easily be stopped by a dosing of sulfites. If you have not add sulfites to your other vessels, I would recommend that as well.

Name: hans
Time: Monday, December 17, 2012

Dear Ed,
As you said the process of degassing is not necessary in "normal" wine making. Can this step be avoided by using another yeast?
I found that even after 9 months the CO2 is still in the wine so I am wondering what is causing this.
Best regards,
Hans

Name: Customer Service
Time: Monday, December 17, 2012

Hans, regardless of the wine yeast you use the CO2 given off will be just about identical. The variation is only 2% or 3% with these yeast.

Name: Hans
Time: Monday, December 17, 2012

Dear Ed,
Perhaps I should rephrase my question. I do not understand why the CO2 does not leave the wine by itself even after a long time. Is that related to the concentrated juice or is it related to the yeast?
I am hoping that by using a different yeast the CO2 will leave the wine as in normal wine making. I do not need a yeast that can ferment 5 gallons in 6 days. I can wait a bit longer.
Thank you.
Best regards,
Hans

Name: Customer Service
Time: Monday, December 17, 2012

Hans, the CO2 that remains in your wine has nothing to do with which yeast you use or concentrate verses fresh juice. Not all CO2 wants to leave wine naturally. Some of it will stay if left alone. 'How much' depends on temperature of the liquid. The cooler your wine is the more CO2 gas will want to stay in the wine. This is true of any liquid.

Name: michael baluch
Time: Thursday, December 20, 2012

Dear Ed,

In the middle of October I started twenty-five gallons of concord wine from juice. The only thing I added was one pound of sugar per gal. and 1 tsp. of nutrient per gal. Two months later it still looks like it's going through its secondary, (natural) fermentation. My question is, should I now end the MLF by sulfiting and racking the wine or should I just wait it out?

Name: Customer Service
Time: Friday, December 21, 2012

If the wine is sitting on any sediment I would rack it off of it into a clean fermenter, but other than that your best off to leave the wine be.

Name: Farmboy
Time: Monday, February 4, 2013

I have been making wine off and on for 30 years and have never degassed . I just let my wine age in the carboy 4 to 6 months before bottling . Also , the only additive in the kit I use is the yeast , and sometimes the sulpate if I intend to keep the wine more than a year or two. All the other stuff is unnecessary if you age your wine properly.
I find the wine has a sweeter,purer taste without the sulphate.

Name: Tom Johansson
Time: Sunday, November 17, 2013

Thanks Ed. Probably just what I needed to know. Very informative. I have a beery wine that wont stop "gasing". have stired it several times with is drill and wisk and use a Vaccum pump in the mean time but the gas just keep producing. Temp has perhaps been a bit cold, about 19-20 C and I will ad a pinch Metabisulphite. Any other suggestions will be greatly appreciated. //tj

Name: Customer Service
Time: Monday, November 18, 2013

Tom, before adding the sulfite, I would check the wine with a hydrometer to see if the fermentation ever finished with the sugars. You could have a lingering fermentation. If this is not the case, it is possible that the case is the result of a bacterial infection. In which case the addition of sulfites will remedy very easily and quickly.

Name: Tom Johansson
Time: Friday, November 22, 2013

Thanks. I actually had done what you suggested and found the fermentation slowly restarting. A small decreace in the sp.gr. I also added a heating pad and some sulphite. It is still gasing, perhaps a bit less. Bacterial infection, i suppose it will eventually kill the batch..
It is a 23 l batch, how much sulphite do you suggest I should add?

Name: Customer Service
Time: Saturday, November 23, 2013

Tom, we recommend 1/16 teaspoon to each U.S. Gallon, That comes out to three 1/8th teaspoons to 23 liters.

Name: Tom Johansson
Time: Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thanks again Ed. I think that should be 3/8's tsp. 23l = 6 US gall. which is about what I added.
I racked it again before adding the sulphite but it is still gassing pretty good. I dont want to loose this batch, it's nice hand picked Saskatoon's. You may call them bearberries, Juneberries??

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