How to Degas Wine: 3 Simple Approaches
One of the key steps of home-made wine production is wine degassing.
Gas, namely carbon dioxide, forms into the wine during the fermentation process, as a result of the action of yeast.
You shouldn’t worry too much about degassing in the case of other home-made beverages, such as cider or beer, but in wine, and especially in still wine, the carbon dioxide affects the quality and taste of the drink, so you must get rid of it.
If you make wine according to the traditional methods and leave the wine to mature for quite a while in a carboy or barrel, then wine degassing is not a big issue, since the carbon dioxide will dissipate along with time.
Instead, if you’re expecting to bottle the drink in a couple of months after the production, then you should probably learn how to degas wine.
Importance of Wine Degassing
Although it might not seem an important issue, wine degassing is essential if you want to make a high-quality drink. Carbon dioxide can have various negative effects on your wine.
First of all, the carbon dioxide will prevent the proper clearing of the wine. This might not be so visible in the case of red wines, but it will definitely affect the clearness of the whites.
Secondly, carbon dioxide makes the drink carbonated.
Now, this is not a major inconvenience in the case of white wines, which can be produced as sparkling wines, but it will affect the quality of red wines, which should generally be still.
Thirdly, carbon dioxide has an unpleasant impact on the taste of the wine, giving it an unpleasant acidic flavor.
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.
The technique is very simple. Following these steps, you will be able to degas your wine efficiently.
- 1Rack the wine into a carboy.
- 2Stir 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.
- 3Seal the carboy with the airlock and let it sit for some hours.
- 4Return and stir the wine again for several minutes, just as you did the first time.
- 5Seal the carboy again with the airlock and let it sit.
- 6Repeat 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.