It’s inexpensive, easy to use, and easy to neglect. The cost of neglecting it, however, is all the wine your making. So what is this little savior of wine? The airlock.
Why Are Airlocks So Critical?
First, they keep out all of the undesirable micro-organisms that seek to ruin your wine. Vinegar bacteria, lactic bacteria, and weak wild yeasts are all kept at bay with a properly maintained airlock.
Second, airlocks prevent oxygen from entering your wine. Not only does this prevent oxidation it makes the production of alcohol possible.
As I mentioned in my post about the yeast fermentation process, yeasts only produce alcohol when it consumes sugar. This is only possible once they’ve run out of oxygen. Thus it is critical that a properly set up airlock is used to starve the yeast of oxygen so they’ll produce alcohol.
Now that I’ve shown you how important it is to properly setting up an airlock let’s get into how to set one up.
Why do Winemakers Neglect Airlocks?
Airlocks are put in place when the wine needs to sit for a while. Generally they’ll be in place for as little as a couple of weeks or up to a few months or more. Many winemakers will “set it and forget it”.
The hard part is done and now it’s time to give our wine a little time to itself to ferment or age. Many will just walk away and trust that it’s functioning properly and nothing will happen to it.
However there airlocks can fail. All it takes is an overly active fermentation, an improperly seated plug, or a cat to make unseat an airlock and let int oxygen and some nasty micro-organisms. When that happens all that wine will have to go down the drain.
How To Use an Airlock
In the following four minute video I’ll walk you through the entire process of setting up your three piece airlock. These are not the only type of airlock on the market, however, they’re the ones with the most moving parts.
Watch this video to make sure you set up your airlock properly. If you follow these steps you’ll be well on your way to making the best possible wine with whatever raw materials you started with. The price for not following these steps so is just too high.
Pretty easy right? Yes, BUT, don’t take these little devices for granted! They may be simple but they’re our guardians against spoiled grape juice.
Remember These Tips
- Clean and sanitize every part of the airlock and plug.
- Fill airlocks with only clean water.
- Check on your airlock every day!
Here’s a link to the same three piece airlock I use to make my wine. This is an affiliate link so if you use it you will be helping to support Winemaker’s Academy.