Using Inert Gas - Argon Newbie

Discussion in 'General Wine Making Forum' started by SethF, Jun 2, 2019.

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  1. Jun 2, 2019 #1

    SethF

    SethF

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    I have now read all of the posts with the word Argon.
    Can anyone:

    1) Walk me thru their process of sparging fermonters or carboys prior to racking, and do you also fill/top the container you are racking from?
    2) Walk me thru their process of sparging bottles prior to bottling?
    3) Comment on the value of sparging pre-bottling, as I use a Buon Vino super auto bottle filler, and their appears to be a decent amount of air mixture occurring in the process. This may only be my perception.
    4) If plate filtering, do you bother sparging the receiving container and topping the rack from container? Anything I should know?

    Thanks so much in advance.
    Seth
     
  2. Jun 2, 2019 #2

    mainshipfred

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    I just got my set up the beginning of the year so I'm no expert. My main use is when I don't have enough wine to fill a carboy but don't rely on this as a permanent solution or with my topping up wine if I don't want to transfer it to a smaller vessel. I'll probably sparge the bottles prior to filling and have a DO analyzer and will run it through the wine if the O2 levels are too high. I'll tell you this though, I've had it since the beginning of the year with 1200 psi and still have over 1100 psi, so it lasts a long time.
     
  3. Jun 3, 2019 #3

    jgmillr1

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    I sparge my tanks with CO2 (cheaper than argon) after fermentation when I rack or filter. Nitrogen works too, but neither are as dense as argon so they only will dilute the oxygen in the container.

    I do not back flow the inert gas into the container the wine is being pumped from. Would it be best, sure. But practically speaking, that exposure to air is brief.

    To sparge, I flow the gas from an inlet at the bottom of the tank and push out air from the top through an airlock that acts like a check valve. I try to flow at least a tank volume's worth of gas. I'll then rack or filter, filling from the low tank inlet valve.

    Regardless, sparging still requires the same minimization of headspace and proper sulfite dosing that you would do anyway as part of good winemaking. I feel that is actually more important than sparging, to be honest.

    Not sure what volume of wine you are working with. No harm in using it in your containers, but sparging your bottles with argon is probably the best use for it.
     
  4. Jun 3, 2019 #4

    baron4406

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    My local winery ages their wine for 24 months and never tops off the barrel. He simply purges the barrel once a month with Nitrogen. I mentioned that one here and a whole pile of "experts" told me his wine was vinegar probably. Mighty fine tasting vinegar I must say! Still as a home winemaker I'd use Fred's advice.
     
  5. Jun 3, 2019 #5

    sour_grapes

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    CO2 is a bit denser than Ar.
     
  6. Jun 3, 2019 #6

    CDrew

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    I use CO2 because it's cheaper and easier to find. But the only way to know that you have displaced the entire volume with gas, is to fill the container first with water, and then displace the water with CO2 or Argon. That's a pain. So I just sparge the storage containers I'm about to fill like Carboys, and Intellitanks. And the amount to sparge is guess work and likely does very little. I am not convinced it does much, but I've been working at using it this year to be ready for an attempt at white wine making this year.

    Regarding bottling, It takes pro level equipment to sparge and then fill, so it's beyond what I can do.
     
  7. Jun 3, 2019 #7

    jgmillr1

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    I stand corrected!
     
  8. Jun 3, 2019 #8

    Rice_Guy

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    * from a foods point of view, inert gas does work (haven’t tried it on home wine though) Shelf life/ product oxidation, with nitrogen sparging, is reduced to a tolerable level but it still goes on. A continuous bottling line may be set up to drip liquid nitrogen (which is more volume efficient) and not sparge a gas.
    * How much? the theory is that we are mixing/diluting, as such if we add one volume we dilute to 50%, the next volume to 25%, then to 12.5%, to 6.25%, etc as each volume of gas is purged into the package. ie it never will reach zero. On foods you buy packaging line speeds dictate about one volume.
    * CO2 will absorb into water containing products creating a shrink pack, ex coffee that looks like a solid brick
     
  9. Jun 4, 2019 #9

    sour_grapes

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    No one has misstated this on this thread, but please let me remind everyone that there is no "blanketing effect." Gasses, no matter their density, will freely mix on the timescale of minutes. You CAN displace or dilute air by sparging, potentially greatly reducing the amount of oxygen in your headspace. However, whatever air or oxygen that is left in your headspace can readily access your wine after a few minutes.
     
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  10. Jun 4, 2019 #10

    stickman

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    The amount of oxygen the wine needs during its lifetime depends on the type of wine. White wine doesn't need much other than a little during fermentation. A big heavily extracted red wine with a high level of reactive tannin needs some oxygen post AF, most of which is needed in the first 6 weeks post AF, after this the demand drops by an order of magnitude. For a red wine, too much oxygen is no good and too little is also no good, the amount of oxygen needed will be different depending on the type of grapes and where they were grown as well as harvest conditions. That's the reason that winemaking has always been based on technique, racking methods, racking frequency, using barrels, etc., you have to go with what works in your cellar. A red wine may be disappointing if you're successful at eliminating all oxygen contact. The following data shows oxygen needed during the wine's life. Note white wine just declines in quality, while red wine improves to some extent.

    Oxygen Requirement Graph.jpg
     
  11. Jun 4, 2019 #11

    SethF

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    Thanks!
    How are you sparging your bottles?
     
  12. Jun 4, 2019 #12

    baron4406

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    Stickman I'm actually experimenting with this..........kinda. I've been told by a few local winemakers @ the local wineries here is to not worry so much about keeping carboys topped off for the first month or two. One guy told me that big reds need a little O2 early in their life after primary fermentation. So it looks like my VP-41 is done with MLF and I have two 5 gallon carboys about 90% full. Will leave them like that for a week or so and then get into tighter confines for it wait its the turn in the barrel.
     
  13. Jun 4, 2019 #13

    mainshipfred

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    Not that I have much experience with this but it was always my understanding it's related to dissolved O2 and I'm not sure head space exposure to O2 is the same. It was always my understanding this required splash racking a few times followed up by a proper topping off. I could be wrong though.
     
  14. Jun 5, 2019 #14

    jgmillr1

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    I actually don't sparge the bottles! My bottle filler shoots the wine to the sides of the bottle while filling, minimizing turbulence and oxidation risk. While it would be *best* to sparge the bottles or purge air from the headspace below the cork, it simply isn't practical for the volume of wine I bottle. I allow for an extra 5ppm of Sulfites in the wine to manage oxygen picked up during bottling.
     
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  15. Jun 10, 2019 #15

    SethF

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    Everything I have red indicates that:

    Reds need significant O2 during AF for most, if not the the entire AF.

    Whites or Roses will benefit from 02 during the first few days of AF, but that further exposure should be minimized. My issue with this is that I run a cold and slow fermentation on my Roses, so I am not sure how long I should be exposing.

    I am contemplating adding a fishtank bubbler to my Red fermentation tank (open top) during AF, and I make my roses in spigoted fermonsters, so I was wondering if I could put a small fish tank pump above the fermonster, and then run a line to the spigot. I think I will play with this in august.

    As for the Argon, my setup has gone well to sparge the receiving fermonster and to blanket the racking fermonster.

    I have a dual regulator and use the two line simultaneously. Worked well.

    I will also do the same at a higher LPM for the bottle filling process. I generally do no more than 65-80 bottles at a time, and intend to sparge all, then lay a large tea towel over them until before and after filling until corked. I do this myself, so really can't do an assembly line as I would like.
     
  16. Jun 10, 2019 #16

    cmason1957

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    My opinion is that if you can't fill with argon and then immediately fill with wine, don't bother with the argon, the outside air rushes in mixes very quickly with the argon. No idea of actual, real, measured time for it to take, just my gut level guess.
     
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  17. Jun 10, 2019 #17

    sour_grapes

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    About 13 minutes for a wine bottle.
     
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