Winemaking can be a satisfying process especially for people who love making their own home brews. However, if you have had to deal with the pesky fizz of leftover carbon dioxide then you know just how important degassing your wine properly is. During the fermentation process, one of the by-products produced is carbon dioxide.
While some drinks will not be affected too much by the presence of carbon dioxide, wine is not one of them. The clarity, flavor and feel of wine are all impacted negatively by excess carbon dioxide so it is important to know how to degas wine.
How to Degas Wine?
Degassing wine does not have to be a complex process. If you are an amateur winemaker or even a seasoned brewer looking for a simple technique for degassing wine, here are some effective techniques that you can use.
Degassing Through Agitation
One of the most common degassing methods used in winemaking is agitation. Agitation involves stirring the wine vigorously enough to cause the carbon dioxide to fizz out. You can accomplish this using any of the following tools.
- Long-handled spoon – One of the easiest ways to agitate your wine is using a spoon. When degassing wine with a spoon you need to stir the wine for approximately 10 minutes. During this process, the carbon dioxide should fizz out leaving your wine free of gas. You can also use a brewing paddle to stir your wine instead of a spoon.
- Wine whip – A wine whip is a power drill agitator that comes with a stirring rod attached to a drill. When degassing using a wine whip you will need to first run the drill in one direction for approximately 30 seconds, then switch to the other direction for a further 30 seconds. A wine whip will agitate faster than a spoon or a brewing paddle so most kits recommend stirring for approximately 6 minutes. However, you can always check your wine whip for the recommended degassing period.
Degassing With a Vacuum Pump
Another effective way of degassing wine is by creating a vacuum in the carboy. A vacuum creates negative pressure that will force the carbon dioxide gas to rise to the surface. To completely degas your wine, you will need to create a negative pressure of approximately -18 PSI and hold it for about 3 minutes.
This is how to degas wine in a carboy.
- Start with the vacuum pump off and then slowly let it run for 2 to 3 minutes until it reaches 10″
- If the foam approaching the carboy cap, stop the vacuum pump and allow the foam to go back down before starting it up again.
- Once your pump gets up to 18-20″ your wine should be done degassing. You can also check whether the process is complete by observing the size and frequency of the bubbles. When you start degassing you will notice that there are many small bubbles but as you get towards the end of the process the bubbles become larger and fewer.
- After degassing always turn the vacuum pump off and allow it to get to 0.
- To avoid implosion during this process, It is important to note that when degassing with a vacuum pump you should only use a glass carboy and the carboy should be filled to the shoulder level.
If you want to degas your wine naturally, allowing it to age is the simplest way to do it. With time, the carbon dioxide in the wine slowly dissipates and after approximately 6 months, your wine should be completely degassed. Wineries typically use the aging process to degas their wines.
However, to use this process you need to rack off any sediment that accumulates in the wine. This will ensure that the flavors of the decomposing yeast in the sediment do not affect the taste of your wine.
How to Know When Your Wine is Properly Degassed?
If you are new to winemaking, there are a couple of techniques you can use to check whether your wine is done degassing.
One of the telltale signs that your wine is not properly degassed is if it still fizzes after stirring. To check whether your wine is properly degassed, take a spoon or stirring rod and stir your wine. If you notice foam or a string of bubbles rising to the surface, your wine is not completely degassed.
Take a sample of your wine and place it in a jar. Cork the jar and then shake it for about 30 seconds. Open the jar and listen for a pop sound. If there is no sound, your wine is completely degassed. However, if you notice a pop sound or the sound you observe when you open a carbonated drink it means your wine still has carbon dioxide in it.
In most cases, your palette will tell you if something is off with your wine. Simply taste the wine and notice how it tastes and feels in your mouth. If it feels fizzy or has an off taste it may not be completely degassed.
What Happens If You do Not Degas Wine?
Degassing is an important part of the winemaking process and the final product will ultimately be affected by how well you degas your wine. If you skip the degassing process or do it wrong, here are some of the things that could go wrong with your wine.
One of the effects of carbon dioxide on your wine is that it will react with the wine and prevent it from clearing. This means that your finished product will not have the clarity you need for a good quality of wine.
Carbon dioxide is the gas that causes fizziness in carbonated drinks. This means that if carbon dioxide is not properly removed from your wine, it will cause your wine to fizz which will not only affect the feel of the wine but also its flavor.
Excess carbon dioxide can make your wine too acidic. This will alter the taste of the finished product and may make it unpalatable. Degassing is therefore important in ensuring that you get a nice rich flavor of wine without overly acidic undertones.
When Should You Degas Your Wine?
If you are a newbie to winemaking, it is important to know not just how to degas wine but also when to do it. The key process involved in making wine is fermentation. It is during this process that alcohol and carbon dioxide are produced. The end product that you want is alcohol without carbon dioxide. Therefore, you should only degas your wine once the fermentation process is complete.
Once the fermentation process is done you can remove the spent yeast and then degas your wine. It is recommended that you degas your wine at temperatures above 70°F or 24 °C.
You should never degas your wine with the yeast sediment still in it. The yeast will change the taste profile of your wine so make sure you rack off the sediment after the fermentation process is complete.
Once you have removed any yeast sediment you can then proceed to degas your wine using any of the methods discussed. It is recommended that you degas your wine only once.
After degassing your wine, you can then add your fining agent to the wine.
How to Taste Your Wine Properly?
If you are brewing your wine at home, the simplest way to know that the degassing has been done properly is to taste the wine. Wine tasting is not as straightforward as it seems since wines typically have several characteristics that signify quality. So, to taste your wine properly, here are the key aspects you need to pay attention to.
One of the things you can use to check the quality of your wine even before you taste it is its appearance. Is it cloudy or clear? Is it fizzy or flat? Is it dull or bright? A properly brewed wine will be clear and bright.
Aroma is an important aspect of your wine. To check that your wine has a nice aroma, pour a small amount into your wine glass. Swirl the wine carefully in the glass so that it coats the inner walls of your glass. This will allow the aroma to escape and you can get a clear sense of what the wine’s aroma is like.
Taste and Texture
One of the telltale signs that your wine is not properly degassed is how it feels in your mouth. This means when tasting wine, you should hold it in your mouth briefly. This will allow you to feel the texture of the wine and identify any off-taste. If the wine bubbles or fizzes in your mouth it is probably not properly degassed.
Wine is a great addition to the dinner table or any occasion for that matter. Brewing your own wine at home can be a very rewarding process provided you do it right. The degassing process will always have a big impact on how your wine turns out so it is important to do it properly.
Allowing the wine to age is the simplest way to degas but since the natural aging process can take up to 6 months, faster methods like vacuum degassing and agitation degassing also come in handy. Whichever method you use, always ensure that your wine is properly degassed to preserve its clarity, flavor, and texture.