How to Degas Wine

How to Degas Wine

Degassing your wine is a key step in the final stages of the wine making process. Simply put it’s the process of removing suspended carbon dioxide left over from fermentation. Before we talk about how to degas your wine let’s take a minute to talk about why it’s so important to get it done right. Why Degassing is Important It doesn’t seem like it should make a big difference, but leaving carbon dioxide in your wine can have three negative effects on your wine. 1. It leaves what should be a still wine carbonated. While white wines often have a bit of fizz to them reds generally shouldn’t. Fizzy Zinfandel is not cool. 2. Suspended carbon dioxide prevents wine from properly clearing. White wines are especially sensitive to the amount of suspended carbon dioxide. An improperly degassed white wine can have a haze to it that won’t clear through fining. 3. Carbon dioxide increases the sensation of acidity in wine. While the acid isn’t really there it tastes like it is. Despite all these reasons to remove the carbon dioxide you don’t want to remove absolutely all of it. This can leave a wine tasting flabby and boring. For the amateur winemaker, however, this is rarely a problem. Even sparkling wine is first made as a still wine and must be free of carbon dioxide prior to making a sparkling wine. Usually not being able to remove enough carbon dioxide to avoid the three negative effects listed above is what gets us in trouble. So, let’s look at the best ways to degas your wine. How to Degas Wine Carbon dioxide can be removed from wine through three main methods: agitation, creating a vacuum, and time. Let’s look at each of these in turn. Degassing Through Agitation Usually this is done with a type of stirring rod that attaches to a power drill. One of the more common degassing tools is the Fermtech Wine Whip (affiliate link). Run the drill in one direction for 20-30 seconds and then abruptly reverse the direction of the drill so that you’re agitating in the other direction. Switch directions every 20-30 seconds Be careful not to agitate the surface of the wine too much. Doing this can expose your wine to too much oxygen. Most kits recommend a total of about 2-6 minutes of degassing when using a power drill agitator. However, it has been my experience (and that of many winemakers I know) that it can take up to 30 or 40 minutes of agitating to completely degas a wine. To see a wine whip in action click here. Create a Vacuum A vacuum can be created by sealing off the top of your carboy and removing the air that is in there. This creates the vacuum. When there’s negative pressure in the carboy the carbon dioxide will come out of suspension (form bubbles) and float to the top of the carboy. Thus you’ll have to have a way to maintain a vacuum so that all the carbon dioxide is removed. I degassed a single bottle of wine using this method. I took...

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Bottling Your Kit Wine

The final step in the wine making process is to bottle your wine and insert a cork. You’re ready for this step once you wine has been stabilized and is clear. If your wine has not been properly clarified or degassed you shouldn’t move on to bottling.  Sediment and trapped carbon dioxide cannot leave the bottle and will remain suspended in the wine until you open it. So be completely sure you’re ready for this step. In this video you’ll see the steps involved to take wine from a carboy to the bottle including an extra step required for long term bottle aging. That’s it! This concludes the first series on kit winemaking! Please let me know your thoughts or questions in the comments. I’m here to...

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Checking the Specific Gravity and Racking

After the primary fermentation has slowed down (after about 7 days) it’s time to check the specific gravity. What this tells us is how the density of the wine compares to that of water. Grape juice is more dense than water. Thus before we fermented the grape juice the specific gravity was over 1.0. As the yeast converted the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide during fermentation, the density of the wine has been decreasing. A specific gravity less than 0.990 tells us that the primary fermentation has slowed down enough that we need to rack. Our main concern is leaving the wine on the dead yeast, or lees, for too long. Wine is sometimes left on the decomposing yeast to impart a nutty flavor, however, you really need to know how to time this right. Left too long and the wine will start to taste like rotting yeast. Check out this video to see all the steps involved in this part of the wine making process. The racking cane can be a bit tricky to get going so I’ve created a separate video all about how to use a racking cane. Hint, you don’t want to use your mouth to get this going! If you found this video helpful please leave your thoughts in the comments...

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Pitch the Yeast and Make Some Wine!

Let’s make wine! Now that we’ve covered wine kits and what equipment required to make wine it’s time to hydrate the grape juice and pitch the yeast. In this video I’ll show you everything it takes to get your wine kit happily fermenting.   This part of the process is probably the most labor intensive step until it comes to bottling. The most time consuming part was cleaning all the equipment and reading the directions over and over again. One word of caution, watch your water temperature. My must was a little too warm. When I hydrated the grape juice concentrate I should have measured the temperature of the water I was adding. Because I didn’t I wound up with a must around 90 degrees (F)! That’s really not all that bad except that for the yeast to get going the must needed to be between 72 and 75 degrees (F). It took nearly six hours for the must to cool off after re-hydration. Lesson: montor the temperature of the water you’re adding to the must as well as the ambient room temperature. My Shiraz began fermenting within 24 hours of pitching the yeast and it smelled like heaven! For about two days… After a couple days it began to smell like old beer and grape juice; kind of rowdy. Up next, racking off the lees and into the...

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Equipment Required for Making Wine from a Kit

Once you’ve decided on what wine kit you’d like to make we now move onto what equipment you’ll need to get started. In this video I outline the minimum amount of equipment required to get going. You can always add more gadgets but this is an affordable place to start. In summary, you’ll need: a primary fermenter a carboy a hydrometer test jar racking cane with tubing wine thief corks a corker wine bottles bottle filler carboy brush bottle brush sanitizer Here are links* to most of the equipment shown in the video: Winemaking Equipment Kit Carboy Brush Wine Thief Test Jar (very similar to mine) The testing equipment I showed is not necessary with a kit, however, it doesn’t hurt to get an early start to understanding the chemistry of wine. *These are affiliate links. By clicking on these links you will be helping support Winemaker’s...

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