Winemakers degas wine to better ensure its good final quality.
The only issue is that some budding winemakers don’t know how to do it right, leading to notorious metallic taste and mild bubbling or a slight prickling on your tongue. There is a light taste that tells you there’s a little carbon dioxide on your palate.
While it may disappear after a few minutes as you pour it out, it will not escape a sensitive tongue, with fizz or not.
It’s not something to worry about if you’re an experienced winemaker who may already know the various tricks for reducing carbon dioxide to unnoticeable levels in wine. But, what if you’re not?
For those who are new to winemaking, in this article, we will teach you everything you need to know about degassing wine. We will also provide the step by step process to produce soft and smooth-tasting wine.
Why Degas Wine?
The quality of your wine would be compromised if you leave carbon dioxide in it.
- It makes the wine carbonated. Red wines must be still, and even sparkling wines are still wines first, and must not contain carbon dioxide.
- Carbon dioxide increases the acid taste in wine. The least that you’d like to do is to increase its sour and tart taste, especially if you’re trying to win someone over.
- It won’t clear even by fining. Red wines shouldn’t sparkle. While white wines usually have a very slight fizzy taste, you won’t want a wine which doesn’t properly clear because of suspended carbon dioxide. It can have a haze to it when improperly degassed.
Wine Degassing Step-by-Step
Wine degassing is a simple yet effective process of removing carbon dioxide which is a by-product of the wine’s fermentation process.
Degassing simply means, you are removing the gas which did not escape during fermentation. You may still see gas suspended in your wine, as fizzy bubbles appear when you put some into a glass. It could also have an ‘off ‘flavor to it, which won’t escape a sensitive palate.
Here are the different methods to degas wine:
You might say, but most commercial wineries don’t degas their wines. The truth is they do—using a natural method.
If you have lots of patience you can simply bulk age the wine long enough in a barrel or carboy until carbon dioxide gradually comes off. Most wineries mature their wines for several months or years.
It would save you money on degassing equipment and you’ll spare yourself from the trouble of doing it. You have to rack the wine thoroughly every now and then to remove sediment.
But, if you want to save time and you’re not keen on serving wine with bubbly surface and harsh taste, using degassing equipment is a key step in producing a top quality wine.
It is the most popular and the simplest way to degas wine before bottling it. But, it is important to do it correctly. You need to buy a “de-gasser” or a degassing rod that you will use to stir the wine.
After racking the wine into a barrel or a carboy, use the rod to stir the wine for around 5 minutes. You can do it manually or you can plug it into an electric drill for your convenience.
Next, use an airlock to seal the carboy or barrel. Let it sit for a few hours and stir again. Repeat this process for a week or less to completely remove the carbon dioxide from the wine.
This is a simple yet time-consuming process. You will need vacuum pumps to do this.
Seal the wine barrel or carboy with a rubber lid and use a vacuum to apply negative pressure on the wine so the carbon dioxide bubbles will appear. There will still be a little amount of gas that will remain saturated in your wine, but they will be at a significantly unnoticeable level.
How to Tell if the Wine Has Been Degassed Properly
After doing any of the abovementioned wine degassing methods, the next question is how do you know you did it right?
Here are simple tricks to determine that you have degassed the wine sufficiently.
- Stir the wine and check if there’s foam or bubbles coming up from the liquid. If yes, you didn’t degas your wine completely.
- Pour a small amount of wine into a jar. You have to close it before shaking it for half a minute. Open the jar or bottle and there’s a fizzing sound, like that of a carbonated drink-you need to degas it again. If you don’t hear anything—congrats, you did a great job!
- Taste the wine for an “off” taste. If it’s acidic, fizzy or it has certain “off” taste that indicates carbonation, you need to do the degassing all over again.
Did you find some great degassing tips of your own in this post? What are the practical tips you can share to shorten the degassing time? Let us know in the comments below.