Backfilling headspace with Argon

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ibglowin

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Al Fulchino said:
i also use argon when too much head space is an issue....just remember not to breath it in..being heavier than air, you can suffocate....nice to have someone around to squeeze your diaphragm if need me ;)
Darwin's Theory pertains to winemakers as well!
 

Runningwolf

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My flo control and hose came today and I am now in business for taking care of any head space!


 

ibglowin

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That should do the trick nicely!

Whats all those empty glass things on the floor?
 

robie

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ttortorice said:
He said some of them even said that they squirt a little gas into every bottle.
Hm-m-m-m-m. I would not put gas in a wine bottle before filling and corking it. The right amount of oxygen is a good thing. One of the advantages of a cork over most screw-on caps it that it breaths and lets oxygen in (and CO2 out). A recent study shows that the screw-on tops, which don't let in any air, are starting to demonstrate that mercaptans and other bad chemicals form inside easier and are tainting the wine. To combat this, they are starting to make screw-ons that let in some air. For the latter, regulating the tightness of the cap is a big issue.

ibglowin said:
Private Reserve has been getting some rave reviews on the intertubes.



People are reporting being able to save a half drained bottle for
up to a week. If a winery is using gas I would think its for the same
reason we use it. For temporarily topping off secondary containers. It
works and it works very well.


This particular packaging is intended for laying down a layer of protection inside a previously opened
bottle of wine. I have a can of this and I can assure you it won't
last long if you try to use it in a carboy. It weighs almost nothing!
 

Runningwolf

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ibglowin said:
That should do the trick nicely!

Whats all those empty glass things on the floor?


Mike what you don't see is the three tables full of full carboys and primaries on the floor bubbling away. I do pick up additional carboys when I see them at household sales. The following is additional wine I plan on making yet this Fall and what ever else that comes along:


Blackberry/ Isabella
Gewürztraminer
chocolate/Vignoles ice wine
Vignole Ice Wine
diamond/cranberry
Cayuga/Niagara 85/15 blend
Niagara/Cayuga 85/15 blend
CranApple Chardonnay RJS
Orange Chocolate Port RJS
 

robie

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Runningwolf,
My, my, my! You are hooked for sure!

I have 4 fermentor buckets and 9 carboys. I couldn't begin to keep up with you.
 

Flame145

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surlees said:
I use CO2 to top off because I was able to get a deal on a secondhand CO2regulator. Argon is more expensive and less available than CO2. My 5 lb. CO2 cylinder cost $90 full and refills are $10. You can pickup a CO2 regulaor on ebay for about $35. I think it's a worthwhile investment if you're going to stay with winemaking.


I have read somewhere that carboys with aging wine should beretopped about every two- three weeks, so that's about how often I do it. I don't think it's criitical to do it that often because CO2 and argon are heavier than air and I don't think they're going anywhere in a carboy w/airlock.


Fred

you are much better off topping off w/ argon. argon is completely inert and will not mix with your wine. Co2 is not and it can be absorbed into the wine. I use a flow meter with a 5 foot hose attached to the regulator. This way I can add at only 1 to 2 pounds off pressure gently, and the argon is not just blowing out.
Also be careful to not breath any in, it can kill you. argon is heavier than air, and if a good enoughamount was breathed in, it will fill lungs and
you will suffocate.
Other than that I use it all the times on my wines when racking, or for topping off. If making large quantities and you are using Variable lid SS tank, they also make purge system regulator that will add and subtract argon to wine. It will adjust as when moves / evaporates
 

CowboyPhil

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I used the dry ice technique, I have a 6 gallon carboy but only making 3 gallons of wine, I added about a 2" x 2" piece of ice, in chips, air locked and waited for it to stop going crazy. The carboy was filled with CO2 gas. It cleared and all seems well.
 

ErikM

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I use argon. It is heavier than co2. i have a small tank and regulator that i bought on ebay. I use it to top off anything that will sit for than a couple of months (I do all aging in the carboy). Tank will last me a year or two. Last time I had it filled I seem to recall it was $22.
 

ErikM

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You are of course correct. I had nitrogen on the brain.
I am not a chemist, but in my notes I have the weights of typical gasses, from lightest on top to the heaviest-

oxygen
nitrogen
"air" (blend of gasses)
argon
CO2 (another "blend")

What I recall reading somewhere is that CO2 mixes very easily with oxygen, where as argon tends to not mix so readily, and argon tends to creates a layer below the ambient air (which contains the evil oxygen.) Complete purging of the headspace of "air" is not as crital with argon.
The weight of nitrogen is very close to that of air, and does not tend to layer. Thorough purging is necessary to reap the benefit.
That is why chose argon.
 

sour_grapes

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You are of course correct. I had nitrogen on the brain.
I am not a chemist, but in my notes I have the weights of typical gasses, from lightest on top to the heaviest-

oxygen
nitrogen
"air" (blend of gasses)
argon
CO2 (another "blend")

What I recall reading somewhere is that CO2 mixes very easily with oxygen, where as argon tends to not mix so readily, and argon tends to creates a layer below the ambient air (which contains the evil oxygen.) Complete purging of the headspace of "air" is not as crital with argon.
The weight of nitrogen is very close to that of air, and does not tend to layer. Thorough purging is necessary to reap the benefit.
That is why chose argon.
Unfortunately, this is not true. There is no "blanketing effect." Gases mix freely within a few minutes. The final composition of the headspace will be uniform (to about 5 decimal places) throughout the volume.
 

winemaker81

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Unfortunately, this is not true. There is no "blanketing effect." Gases mix freely within a few minutes. The final composition of the headspace will be uniform (to about 5 decimal places) throughout the volume.
This lends credence to my habit of eliminating headspace. During and after fermentation, the wine is emitting enough CO2 that a week or two of large head space has never been a problem. However, I don't leave it long, 1 to 2 weeks while fermentation completes in the carboy and the gross lees compact.

But I've been uncomfortable with the idea of using an invisible insert gas to fill the container. IF we could be sure the space was completely filled by the inert gas, it's probably fine, but I don't see how that is possible.
 

sjjan

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Unfortunately, this is not true. There is no "blanketing effect." Gases mix freely within a few minutes. The final composition of the headspace will be uniform (to about 5 decimal places) throughout the volume.
Are you saying that it doesn’t help to put Argon in the headspace as it would mix with the air there?
 

TurkeyHollow

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I think there is no better way to preventing oxidation that reducing the surface to which a given amount of oxygen has access. That being said, reducing the concentration of oxygen accessible to the wine (if it does happen to mix) does pretty much the same. If the two methods are employed, very small amounts of oxygen are exposed to a very small wine surface. I also think the technique by which these methods are used can greatly affect their success. For example, if you have 4 gallons of wine in a 6 gallon carboy and you just dump argon into the carboy at a high rate, your results wont be as good as if you fill your empty carboy with argon at a slow rate restricting the escape of gas then racking wine into it from the bottom. This will allow the wine to displace the argon (through restricted flow). When the volume of wine doesn't make it up into the neck of the carboy, you can add (sanitized) glass marbles to make up the volume.
 

winemaker81

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This article on WineMakerMag regarding how long a layer of argon lasts meshes with @sour_grapes's point.

Adding argon is not like pouring water into oil, where the oil will quickly float to the top. The argon mixes with the existing air, and you'll never get 100% of the air replaced. Worse, you will never know, unless you have access to a lab, just how large the argon part of the mixture is.

Those considering using an insert gas to fill head space should understand what really occurs and use that information to make an informed decision.

The last paragraph of the article, which speaks of how commercial wineries handle topup is interesting, as apparently it's common to have many smaller tanks, and using inert gas as a last choice.
 
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sour_grapes

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Are you saying that it doesn’t help to put Argon in the headspace as it would mix with the air there?
No, that is not quite what I am saying. @TurkeyHollow and @winemaker81 have already covered the essentials, but let me put my spin on it.

Argon can definitely help. If you introduce it carefully, you can displace most of the air out of the headspace. It takes tens of seconds to a few minutes for the gases to intermix, so if you introduce argon near the surface of the wine at low flow rates (to minimize turbulence), you can push most of the air out of the top of the carboy.

The point I was making above, however, is that any air (oxygen) that you do leave in the carboy will have access to your wine. In other words, argon only helps by dilution/displacement, not by virtue of some "magical blanket," which simply does not exist.
 
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