Why And When Should You Degas Your Wine
Winemaking is uncomplicated but many enthusiasts who approach this craft for the first time are confused about wine degassing. In fact, some of the most frequent questions we receive are related to wine degassing. More precisely, newbie winemakers want to know why degassing wine is important, when and how to do it.
Let’s see why this step is important and when to degas wine if you want to achieve a high-quality beverage.
Why Should You Degas Wine
To answer all your doubts, let’s start with the first question. And the answer is very simple. You should degas wine because carbon dioxide has a negative impact on the characteristics of your wine.
Carbon dioxide forms in wine, and in all fermented beverages, as a matter of fact, as a natural consequence of the action of the yeasts. If you’ve done homemade beer or cider before getting your hands into winemaking, you probably never worried about carbon dioxide too much, as some bubbles are more than welcome in these drinks. However, things are different in the case of wine, especially if you’re making a still variety.
As far as winemaking is concerned, carbon dioxide actually dissipates by itself with the time, therefore there is no need to degas wine if you are following a traditional winemaking method and are planning to leave your beverage to age in a barrel for a few long months before bottling.
Nevertheless, since most enthusiasts are eager to see their beverage in the bottle as soon as possible, wine degassing can allow you to bottle the wine even after six weeks from the production.
By now, you might be wondering why wine degassing is important. There are various reasons why you should degas wine if you’re not planning to leave it to mature in a barrel. The most important is because carbon dioxide changes both the flavor and the aroma of the wine, most of the times in a negative way. The only reason why you should want carbon dioxide in your beverage is if you are specifically making a sparkling white or rosé.
However, if your purpose is that of making a still wine, carbon dioxide will not only cause it to be somehow fizzy, but it will also give the wine a metallic and slightly acid taste. Regarding the aroma, it will also suffer and you won’t be able to smell the true bouquet of your wine.
Apart from that, the carbonated effect is highly undesirable in almost all wines, and especially in red wines.
Moreover, the carbon dioxide also prevents the proper clearing of your beverage. This might be less visible and annoying in the case of red wines, but your white will most likely stay blur instead of clear, which is a major mistake.
When To Degas Wine
If by now is clear why wine degassing is important, you’re probably wondering when to degas the wine. Some inexpert winemakers suggest degassing both in the middle of the fermentation process and when fermentation is over. However, we advise against this practice. Moreover, we don’t recommend degassing wine more than one time.
As explained above, degassing occurs naturally when the wine is left for a sufficient time to age in a barrel, or even in a carboy, before bottling. Apart from this method, you can degas wine either through agitation or with a vacuum pump.
A vacuum pump will not expose the beverage to oxygen, but the device is expensive and most occasional winemakers choose not to invest in one. Degassing through agitation, on the other hand, might expose wine to oxygen. This can cause the oxidation of wine, which has a negative impact above all on reds.
For this reason, it is recommended to degas wine only one time, when the fermentation ended.
Regardless of the degassing method, you are going to use, there are also a few other variables to account for if you want degassing to be effective.
One of them is the sediment in the wine. As you should know by now, it is essential racking the wine before bottling, but it is also essential to do it before degassing. The process will agitate the liquid, and subsequently the sediment inside it. To avoid bottling yeast and must residues, rack the wine before degassing.
The temperature is also crucial. A wine that is cooler than 70°F can be difficult to degas and you might have to repeat the process. To make sure that you’ll not have to turn back and degas a second time, keep the wine in a slightly warmer place for a day or two before degassing.
The wine should have a temperature of or above 70°F when degassing. Ideally, its temperature should be 75°F.
Lastly, a word about clarifiers. If you are making wine from a kit or planning to add clarifier, make sure you add it after degassing. Most winemaking kits manufacturers recommend adding the clarifier before degassing, but this might cause the clarifier to lose its effectiveness.
We hope this article answered your questions and you now know why and when to degas wine. Now, get your hands dirty and make that batch of wine!