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Do I really need an airlock?

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Kaj

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HI guys,

I usually rack my wine in demijohns after primary fermentation, and seal them with airlocks.
For reasons too boring to go in to, I am going away for a few weeks tomorrow and can't find my airlocks... I'd ideally like to rack my wine tonight.... would it be a disaster if I racked my wine in a large plastic water bottle and sealed the lid tight?

Any help would be mighty fine of you.

Thanks.
 

BernardSmith

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Hi Kaj - an welcome. Here's my take. Your experience may be very different, but if you were to bottle your wine as soon as it has finished fermenting the amount of CO2 absorbed in the wine being enormous and the fact that in the presence of tiny particles that drop out of suspension gas will "nucleate" - or gather around those particles and so acquire more energy than the liquid can hold to keep the gas dissolved in the wine. The gas will then force its way to the surface and the neck of the bottle will cause the gas to rifle and so will pop the cork - if you are lucky, and may shatter the bottle if you are not. If that is what happens after months of aging and the after much of the CO2 has been expelled over time through the airlock then your idea of sealing the carboy with a cap very shortly after you have racked the wine into a secondary does not seem like a very wise decision. If your carboy is plastic there may be enough elasticity in the walls to allow them to expand but there will be limits to the amount of stretch the walls will have. A few weeks may be too long What to do?
In the past when home winemakers had very basic equipment they may have placed a plate atop the mouth of their fermenters and any pressure being exerted from escaping CO2 would be able to lift the plate for a moment or two - long enough to allow the gas to escape. If the mouth of the carboy was wide enough then the plate would drop back into place... Is that something that you may be able to cobble together? Alternatively, is there some way that you could chill the wine enough to minimize the expulsion of the carbon dioxide? Will the carboy fit in your fridge? That MAY be sufficient to slow all the proceses enough to avoid any problems until you returned.
 
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Johnd

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How about a piece of plastic wrap over the mouth of the carboy and a rubber band to hold it in place. CO2 could escape while not allowing air in. Wouldn't make the rubber band too tight.
 

Kaj

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Thanks for your response Bernard. Unfortunately my container has a very narrow lid so I don't think the plate will work, and my fridge wouldn't be able to cope with it either.
I was thinking of ask a family member to release the lid every few days, I think this may be my only viable option?
 

Kaj

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Hmm that's an idea johnd. So the co2 would be able to force it's way out when enough pressure was built?
 
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vacuumpumpman

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Do you have a bung that fits ? If so I can show you how to make an airlock

Otherwise - how about a balloon ? I believe all your fermentation is complete - correct ?

then it should protect your wine with some expansion also
 

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