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Wine Making & Grape Growing Forum > Wine Making > Beginners Wine Making Forum > Primary fermentation: Airlock or no airlock?

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Old 02-02-2010, 09:48 PM   #1
Slyder73
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Hi all.
Have enjoyed the information everyone is sharing with everyone on this forum. For a beginner I"ve learned a lot very quickly.

I have my 2nd and 3rd batches a few days into primary fermentation. However, in reading here and on several other wine sites as well as youtube videos I am a bit confused about something.

When starting a kit wine, the primary fermentation, should there be an airlock or should it be open to the oxygen (covered with a cloth)? Many sites suggest no airlock as the yeast need oxygen in the first few days. Many sites and many here airlock as well. I've had my first batch turn out great and my two current batches, one in a glass carboy are bubbling up a storm and the yeast in no way seems compromised.

Is there a concensus on airlock for primary fermentation? Personal preference? Is it different for yeast cultured for wine kits? Has anyone found a difference between both methods?

Thanks.

 
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Old 02-02-2010, 09:55 PM   #2
AlFulchino
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what sites are showing an air lock on a primary???

the primary ferment needs O2...the wider the top surface area the better
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Old 02-02-2010, 10:01 PM   #3
Wade E
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Almost all kit manufacturers state to use a airlock. I myself use an aorlock but aerate my must at least once every day. I have a cat that lives in my basement and can get into things so Ive always used the airlock and have never ha a problem yet with any problems over many years. If you have good conditions then by all means leave it to get more 02 but just make sure no bugs can get in there.
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Old 02-02-2010, 10:06 PM   #4
AlFulchino
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wow Wade...i dont do the kits like you do....but i have never used an airlock in primary...i suppose a cat would be an issue, especially if they stood by the primary and a fly was cavorting above the primary
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Old 02-02-2010, 10:12 PM   #5
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Actually my cat loves to sit on everything so if the lid was on loose he would probably flip it over and go for a swim or just spaz and leave my wine open to anything.
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Old 02-02-2010, 10:27 PM   #6
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I'm also like Al. I rarely add an airlock to the primary. Now I dont do that many kits BUTT, I do a $___ load of fresh juice and fruit. I also rack before its dry like around 1.015.
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Old 02-02-2010, 10:47 PM   #7
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For kits.. I add an airlock.

For homemade recipes I stir daily for the recipe requirements. Add airlock usually after 4 days minimum ( 6 maximum)

never had an issue with either requirements.

Allie

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Bottling;Cider

 
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Old 02-03-2010, 12:11 AM   #8
Slyder73
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Thanks for the replies all.

What I'm curious about is the mechanics of it all. Given that the CO2 produced is heavier, and in essence creating a CO2 blanket on the surface of the wine, if there is no airlock, how does O2 (being lighter), get down through that layer of CO2 and into the wine solution? Especially when the CO2 is constantly "pushing" upwards against the lighter O2. This would be even more pronounced if fermenting primary in a carboy, I can't see how it's even possible for Oxygen to travel down against the heavier Carbon Dioxide and into the narrow neck and enter the solution where the yeast can make use of it.

What seems to be making sense from the comments here and the reading I"m doing is there is a difference between Kit wine and fresh grape/fruit wines. The kits by my reading are designed to have the essential nutrients for the yeast without needing initial reproduction level oxygen? THe fresh ingredients need the oxygenation to help the yeast reproduce in the first few days?

As of now, with my kits I have the airlocks on, one in carboy, one in bucket and this discussion is more for interest sake at this point, but I can see in the future already wanting to move on to fresh ingredients and I think this might be an important point.

Then again, perhaps I'm reading too much into it....never in all the research I've done heard of anyone having a destroyed wine by either method...so maybe both are good?

 
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Old 02-03-2010, 12:46 AM   #9
St Allie
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Temperature, nutrients, acidity,and oxygen all play a part in the fermentation.

I don't know which sites or kits recommend an airlock on a primary fruit fermentation ( compared to a kit)

Oxygen is a big need for the yeast initially, starve the must and the ferment ceases. once the yeast is up and running.. as long as it has nutrient and sugars.. it keeps going.

I have given up on kits.. I was keen on them however,my homemade fruit wines are more complex and interesting a year down the track.

have planted my own vines now.. so unlikely to keep attempting kits.

you'll all have to cope with me posting
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Primary;Grapefruit
Secondary;Merlot
Bulk stored;grapefruit, strawberry guava, cider, apple
Bottling;Cider

 
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Old 02-03-2010, 04:17 AM   #10
MBRA
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Cant say for kit wines, never done one and probaly never will. The oxygen that desovles in your must when crushing the grapes is most of the times enough for the yeast. Only add O2 if ferm starts to lag. Also dep1ends on the style of wine making, like chardonnay(oxidative) can turn out awesome with a bit of O2, but forget about a citrusy one then. Sauv. Blanc you keap it as far away as possible and make the wine as reductive as you can.

And the previos Qeustion on how does O2 get past the CO2 layer, google Bhor's Gas law, that plus a light breeze.

 
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