Aging wine in corny kegs

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May 22, 2022
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I am an avid beermaker and have quite a few kegs. The convenience of kegging is what got me hooked on winemaking because I have refrigerator storage. Something has confused me. More than once I have read that wine cannot be aged in a keg, meaning there will be no benefit over time - recommendations have been for bulk aging in glass carboys. Is the basis for this claim that aging requires a tiny amount of exposure to oxygen which is what happens from the oxygen in the neck of a bottle or carboy, whereas the oxygen in a corny keg has been completely purged (in my case, replaced with argon). I can fit 4 corny kegs in my converted chest freezer but I can only fit a single 6 gallon glass carboy. Nonetheless I plan to proceed with kegging for the bulk of aging but I would appreciate any advice or clarification on this topic.
Thanks in advance!
Welcome to WMT!

I have not aged in a keg, but I doubt that there will be "no benefit over time." Changes will be occuring whether oxygen is present (in small quantities) or not. Others may chime in with better info...
I routinely store wine in Sanke kegs for bulk aging. Many of the local wineries here do too. They work great after you remove the spear. I treat them like stainless tanks. Cornelius kegs should work OK too. Just remember wine tends to drop sediment over time and racking from keg to keg a few times helps clear it up. But having a white wine on tap for the summer months would be pretty nice! Just don't use CO2 or it will carbonate your wine. Though the disadvantage of wine in kegs, is that it would be easy to drink too much of it!

Regarding O2 exposure, with home wine making practices, O2 exposure is common and plenty sufficient especially in our small vintages. In fact, O2 is basically enemy #1 after fermentation is complete.

Anyway, food grade stainless is an excellent place to store wine. Just look at any winery. This is a quick picture of my wine closet!CE69E2F9-6642-41FE-8293-5ABD1AF0CF2D.jpeg
I've used my corny kegs to bulk age a few wines. They do seem to age, and it is convenient.
I use sanke 5 gallon, half barrel and 50L for stainless aging. I'm sure you keep the kegs clean of beer stone so no problem. I like the sanke better since I can fill to the neck better than the corny. You can top with CO2; commercial wineries do that. If you just fill the headspace with CO2 it won't carb; don't leave the gas on. I'll be doing just that if I need to use a corny for storage.
I appreciate the feedback and love how you can pile sanke kegs into your keezer. The better seal has me intrigued. My corny kegs are all used so the seals are not perfect, even with softer gaskets and keg lube. No way I can leave an open gas connection. Have heard the sanke kegs can be tough to clean since you can't get your hand inside. I have an argon tank from when I used to use a preservation system for opened wine bottles. Curious if anyway experiments with letting in a tiny amount of oxygen to micro oxygenate their kegged wine. In addition to adding tannins and a little more flavor, I am thinking that the use of charred oak spirals could also function to micro oxygenate the wine.
I like the sanke better since I can fill to the neck better than the corny. You can top with CO2; commercial wineries do that.

This is one of the things I like about Sanke kegs too. It's very easy to minimize headspace.

Cleaning Sanke kegs can be a bit of a pain, but an overnight soak with hot PBW has never failed me, and once clean, they tend to stay pretty clean.

Back in my brewing days, I had trouble sealing the big main seal on the top of corny kegs without pressure. But a new gasket and food grade silicone grease might work.

Report back how this works out. I have this idea that a well sealed Cornelius keg, with an argon supply, would make an ideal vessel for topping other vessels of wine storage.
Yes, cleaning a sanke is not bad with PBW. I also will use milk stone cleaner if I see some residue that is possibly beer stone. I bought a dozen 50L for $20 each and scored two half barrels and three sixels for free. Getting the spears out can be tricky and the 50L are/were the European style not D sanke. They were an even bigger pain to remove.

Also new racetrack gasket and the food safe silicone will do the trick for sealing.

CDrew, what are the clamps and seals you have there? I've been using #10.5 or #11 stoppers and airlocks.
CDrew, what are the clamps and seals you have there? I've been using #10.5 or #11 stoppers and airlocks.

The tops of the sanke kegs, including the threaded Euro 50L kegs are directly compatible with 2 inch tri-clamp fittings. So I use a 2 in to 1.5 inch reducer fitting and a tri-clamp gasket that is flat on one side. Tri-clamp (sometimes called tri-clover) fittings are great for making connections and I use different tri-clamp fittings in all aspects of winemaking. It gives you a sanitary positive seal for every connection. Highly recommended.

For the airlocks, Catylist Mfg sells the silicone waterless airlocks that fit 1.5 inch size. But you can use the tri-calmp system to make any kind of connection you want. I just find the 1.5 inch size is great for almost everything.

I don't want to clog up the OP's thread too much, but if you have other questions or want photos of how it works just send me a PM.

I did edit and added 2 pictures for clarity.

If interested, here is some reading material:
I use corny kegs for bulk aging after oaking them in a Carboy and use my AIO vacuum pump to fill them. The way I sanitize them after washing practically removes all air from them. Since I generally use 6 gallon Carboys I keep the pickup tube several inches from the bottom and rack clear wine. Once filled I pressure seal with argon. Works great for me, I have a bunch of sanke kegs that I will probably use in time too
I was gifted a bunch of pin-locks years ago, and they have become my wine kegs (ball locks are my beer kegs, not that it makes any difference). You'll have a hard time sealing corny kegs with low pressure. I usually fill the keg, purge the headspace with CO2, and then hit it with a burst of 30-40# pressure. Once the gasket "pops" I know I'm good and can relieve the pressure. From then on it's like a waitress in Italy explained about their kegged house wines ... "You just use enough pressure to push it out."

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