Written by: Tim Edison

Updated: January 9, 2024

Why And When Should You Degas Your Wine

Man looking at wine in vineyard

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

I 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.

How to Degas Wine

Wine degassing is a quite simple process but it must be performed correctly if you want to make an excellent wine.

There are three methods for wine degassing.

Below we describe each method, so you will be able to choose your favorite one.

1. Natural Wine Degassing

The most simple and easiest way to degas wine is leaving it to mature in a carboy or barrel for a few months.

The carbon dioxide will slowly come out of the suspension, leaving your wine still and delicious.

This method is used by most wineries, since they usually mature their wines for a really long time, sometimes even for years.

If you choose this method, arm yourself with patience and let the carbon dioxide slowly escape from the wine.

Make sure to rack the wine thoroughly to get rid of all the sediment, and check on your wine regularly throughout the degassing period.

If you notice any accumulated sediment, consider racking the wine again to not alter its taste.

2. Wine Degassing Through Agitation

If you don’t want to wait for a long time before bottling your wine, you can degas it through agitation.

The method is extremely simple, and probably the most popular, but it is essential to perform it correctly.

If you want to degas your wine through agitation, you will need a dedicated tool, called a wine degassing rod (affiliate link). You should receive one of these in any good wine making kit.

The technique is very simple. Following these steps, you will be able to degas your wine efficiently.

  1. 1
    Rack the wine into a carboy.
  2. 2
    Stir the wine vigorously with the degassing rod for about five minutes. You can use a degassing rod that can be attached to an electrical drill. In this way, you will only have to push the on/off button.
  3. 3
    Seal the carboy with the airlock and let it sit for some hours.
  4. 4
    Return and stir the wine again for several minutes, just as you did the first time.
  5. 5
    Seal the carboy again with the airlock and let it sit.
  6. 6
    Repeat this operation for several days, maybe for a week, in order to adequately degas the wine.

As you can see, degassing wine with this method is very simple and doesn't take up too much time.

However, if you decide to use the drill, you should take some precautions.

If the carboy is too full it's probably sensible to empty out a little.

The stirring will create a whirlpool effect and the liquid could easily overflow if you don’t pay attention to this aspect. Also, use the drill on the lowest speed setting.

3. Wine Degassing With a Vacuum

The third method of wine degassing is with the help of vacuum.

There are specially designed vacuum pumps that can be used for this purpose.

The principle of this method is very simple.

Basically, the carbon dioxide will be released because of the negative pressure that is created inside the carboy.

You will have to seal the carboy with a rubber top and use the pump to remove the carbon dioxide. You can see how in the short video above.

The downside of this method is that it is really time-consuming.

The actual degassing time will depend on how much carbon dioxide is present in the wine and on the strength of the vacuum.

Most vacuum pumps available on the market will not create a strong vacuum since there is the risk that the carboy could implode.

How Do You Know When Wine Has Been Properly Degassed?

There are various ways to see if the wine was degassed properly.

Probably the most simple is to stir it and see if there are any “chains” of bubbles rising from the drink or if any foam is formed above the liquid.

If you notice any of these then your wine is not completely degassed.

Another method is to pour some wine into a jar, close it and shake it for about thirty seconds.

Open the jar and listen. If you hear the characteristic sound of the "fizz" of a carbonated drink you need to degas your wine some more. If you hear nothing, you’ve done an excellent job!

The last method is tasting the wine.

In this way, you will be able to feel if the wine is sparkling or not. However, know that an acidic wine might give the impression of carbonation, so be very careful to notice the difference between the two things.

Have you ever degassed wine before? Which is your preferred method and why?

 Leave a comment below with any questions or tips.

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About the Author Tim Edison

Tim started Wine Turtle way back in 2015.
These days he contributes to Wine Turtle (and other renowned wine publications) while continuing his wine education.
Tim's wine of the month is the Coates & Seely Reserve Brut NV (from Hampshire, England).

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