What is the CORRECT way to displace ambient air from headspace ?

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Fox Squirrel Vin

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Winemaking is not exempt from the natural laws of physics and chemistry. Solutions that don't actually work are placebos.
Of course but....

O2 exposure is another widely misunderstood point in winemaking.

Oxidation is a factor of wine volume vs headspace (or exposure) vs time. Oxidation does not happen quickly -- racking wine under normal conditions is not dangerous. Rack efficiently and minimize air contact without going gonzo, and the likelihood of problems from O2 exposure are close to zero.

This is one of many good reasons to add K-meta -- SO2 binds to contaminants, rendering them harmless. This includes incidental O2 exposure.

There are ways to mitigate the problems associated with the natural laws of physics and chemistry that are not zero sum to the art of wine making and that's the point. There are ways of making wine in a 100% oxygen free environment but it isn't done because: A) Cost Prohibitive B) May not provide the best benefit to the final product C) That process is not required to produce a high-quality product.

I think when you try to be a purist in home winemaking or letting chemistry overly influence the process, you are making a process more difficult, costly, and time consuming when simple solutions that are "good enough" that are used by the makers of some of the best commercial wines in the world are repeatable at home and has the potential to give you a product every bit as good as theirs.

Inert gasses for "blanketing" 👇 for oxidation prevention are easy, cost effective, and completely adequate for dealing with large headspace issues in storage.

 

Fox Squirrel Vin

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Man, I hate to be that guy, because I'm not answering the question you asked, but like others have suggested, how hard do you want to work for a problem with a ready-made, time tested, really simple solution? You have a 14 gallon container and want to eliminate 2-3 gallons of airspace. That equates to one 6 and one 5 gallon carboy, and possibly a 1 gallon jug.

As an experiment for your amusement, go haywire and plumb for pumping gasses and measuring atmosphere. You risk equipment failure, power outages, or miscalculations, and will spend all that time fiddling with it. It may be a great feeling when it succeeds.

If you want to try and ensure success, get the carboys.
Or purge the air out of it with $.50 cents of Argon, seal it, (It is an air tight stainless vessel) and call it good.
 
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Or purge the air out of it with $.50 cents of Argon, seal it, (It is an air tight stainless vessel) and call it good.
As per your comment above, I go with a time tested, very simple solution of topping with wine. I know what is filling the carboy (outside of the small headspace), and there's no chemistry or physics involved.

I plan wine production, as much as feasible, around my available containers, and have a wide variety of smaller containers, along with a drawer full of airlocks and drilled stoppers of numerous sizes.
 

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Or purge the air out of it with $.50 cents of Argon, seal it, (It is an air tight stainless vessel) and call it good.

Hey Fox-Have you ever done this at a home level with wine or just read about it in a theoretical exercise? I have done it and its adequate for short periods of time. Longer term it is a problematic solution. In commercial wineries with nitrogen generators, the N2 is flowed in nearly continuously and at least replenished daily. THe problem is the perfect seal you speak of. Often wine is still offgassing CO2 and you need a way for that to leave your storage vessel. So an airlock, or 1 way bung of some type is needed. All of these one way valves are permeable to Oxygen to some degree and as soon as that occurs, that O2 has access to the entire surface area in your vessel. THat's why having a small surface area is such an effective and time tested solution. Think about why wine comes in a wine bottle and not a mason jar.

I suppose if one was highly motivated, you could construct an inert gas system, operate it continuously, measure the effects etc, but most home wine makers want to get the fermentation done, and get the wine into safe bulk storage and forget about it for months at a time.
 

Fox Squirrel Vin

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Hey Fox-Have you ever done this at a home level with wine or just read about it in a theoretical exercise? I have done it and its adequate for short periods of time. Longer term it is a problematic solution. In commercial wineries with nitrogen generators, the N2 is flowed in nearly continuously and at least replenished daily. THe problem is the perfect seal you speak of. Often wine is still offgassing CO2 and you need a way for that to leave your storage vessel. So an airlock, or 1 way bung of some type is needed. All of these one way valves are permeable to Oxygen to some degree and as soon as that occurs, that O2 has access to the entire surface area in your vessel. THat's why having a small surface area is such an effective and time tested solution. Think about why wine comes in a wine bottle and not a mason jar.

I suppose if one was highly motivated, you could construct an inert gas system, operate it continuously, measure the effects etc, but most home wine makers want to get the fermentation done, and get the wine into safe bulk storage and forget about it for months at a time.

I completely understand why glass carboys are used but glass carboys are a solution to a problem for small batches. What are you going to do when your volume per year is in the 500 gallon range? Use 100 carboys?

I use stainless steel milk containers that have a 10" opening and below the neck width of about 16 inches and vary in size from 50 to 70 liters for storage because they are extremely cost effective because they don't have the price tag that anything that has the word "wine" attached to it does. When they are sealed they are air tight outside the effusion rate of oxygen through 1mm of stainless steel and a silicone gasket in the lid that is bail clamped to the can. If any CO2 is produced at the storage stage, it's going to probably remain in solution or the vessel will burp when the seal is broken. Any headspace is filled with Argon. The argon effusion rate through stainless and silicone has to be so low that even trying to calculate it would be a waste of time and as a noble gas, it's not going to get consumed because it does not form any compounds at room temp.

You will get more oxygen effusion through the wood of a barrel or a cork than what I use.

If someone can explain to me how I would get oxidation in the wine in that situation that would be detrimental to it, even if it was stored for 6 months or more undisturbed, I'm interested in hearing it. If someone can explain to me why I should not have any can not filled completely full with any headspace filled with Argon, I'd like to hear that as well. I am open to learning but I think most home winemakers have become so dead-set on "this is how you do it" that any other way outside massive commercial production is simply just wrong.
 

Fox Squirrel Vin

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As per your comment above, I go with a time tested, very simple solution of topping with wine. I know what is filling the carboy (outside of the small headspace), and there's no chemistry or physics involved.

I plan wine production, as much as feasible, around my available containers, and have a wide variety of smaller containers, along with a drawer full of airlocks and drilled stoppers of numerous sizes.
And that is perfectly fine and there is nothing, absolutely nothing, wrong with that but I'm scaling for artisan winery production so what works and what produces good results varies from home wine making. I can't tell my vines to only make a certain amount and if I have 40 liters of wine left after whatever process and the smallest container I have available holds 50, I'm not going to add 10 liters of a wine with different chemistry to it and I'm not going to discard 50 bottles worth of excess at $25 a bottle out of the tasting room.

That was the OP's situation. So what can be done in that situation and stll make a good product without dividing it into carboys he may or may not have?
 
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That was the OP's situation. So what can be done in that situation and stll make a good product without dividing it into carboys he may or may not have?
Agreed. Here's my ideas, which consider cost trade off:

1. The best advice is to use appropriate containers, e.g., a 19 and a 23 liter carboy. This is the lowest risk and lowest cost, assuming the hardware is available. [I don't normally consider hardware costs as it's re-usable -- most of my hardware is any where from 1 to 3 decades old. But for other folks this is a critical consideration.]

2. Topup with a compatible wine. For my production, this would be #1, but given the OP's need for ~3 gallons of good quality wine, it's not trivial. But like with #1, it's low risk.

3. Put the container under vacuum and refill with inert gas. This should also be low risk, but requires the necessary hardware.

4. Lastly, put the gas hose into the wine and gently pump in 3 to 5 times the volume of the headspace. While the inert gas mixes quickly, it will push out whatever gas is at the top of the container, so by pumping in a large amount of gas it's likely most of the air will be displaced. However, as previously noted, there's no way to tell how effective this is, so the risk is higher.

Variable size tanks are a consideration, but for an 11 gallon output??? The cost exceeds the benefit -- for 11 gallons I'd buy a couple of carboys.

Have I missed anything?
 
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Fox Squirrel Vin

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Agreed. Here's my ideas, which consider cost trade off:

1. The best advice is to use appropriate containers, e.g., a 19 and a 23 liter carboy. This is the lowest risk and lowest cost, assuming the hardware is available. [I don't normally consider hardware costs as its re-usable -- most of my hardware is any where from 1 to 3 decades old. But for other folks this is a critical consideration.]

2. Topup with a compatible wine. For my production, this would be #1, but given the OP's need for ~3 gallons of good quality wine, it's not trivial. But like with #1, it's low risk.

3. Put the container under vacuum and refill with inert gas. This should also be low risk, but requires the necessary hardware.

4. Lastly, put the gas hose into the wine and gently pump in 3 to 5 times the volume of the headspace. While the inert gas mixes quickly, it will push out whatever gas is at the top of the container, so by pumping in a large amount of gas it's likely most of the air will be displaced. However, as previously noted, there's no way to tell how effective this is, so the risk is higher.

Variable size tanks are a consideration, but for an 11 gallon output??? The cost exceeds the benefit -- for 11 gallons I'd buy a couple of carboys.

Have I missed anything?
Best post in the thread. 👍

When I did my cost to benefit analysis, all things considered, storage per liter cost, large glass demijohns vrs. stainless, the benefits and drawbacks considered stainless won hands down. Especially using products from the milk industry that would work in wine production. The word "milk" is a 60% discount. Price a stainless wine barrel vrs. a stainless milk barrel the same size. Its crazy, the markup for something made for "wine" is insane.

Heavy glass containers are also a safety hazard to employees. Variable volume tanks are great but you lose a lid seal on 1000 liters of wine, you can lose $30,000 worth of product really easily.

The equipment that had the best cost to benefit ratio was a vacuum pump because of the many cross uses it has for transfer, filtering, degassing and purging (Best $100 you can spend IMHO) and Argon instead of Co2 or nitrogen. Nitrogen is a better option when spending $15,000 for a small nitrogen generator and an air compressor to drive it makes economic sense but that doesn't happen until you are up in the 5 digit gallon quantities, then you have nitrogen on tap and can blanket for pennies compared to Argon. Argon made better sense for my needs because it is completely inert, has zero affect on wine, has no biological function (nitrogen can feed yeast, CO2 changes PH, decreases sweetness, intensifies bitterness and astringency and can lead to prickliness and argon will not dissolve into wine. It's also very easy to source.

From one of the links I posted:

"Argon is not soluble in wine and does not present the issue of dissolving, and therefore provides a longer-term blanket protecting the wine. According to research and a blind tasting panel, wines sparged with noble gases, such as argon, have improved shelf life, color, flavor, and aroma in comparison to those sparged with nitrogen."
 

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And that is perfectly fine and there is nothing, absolutely nothing, wrong with that but I'm scaling for artisan winery production so what works and what produces good results varies from home wine making. I can't tell my vines to only make a certain amount and if I have 40 liters of wine left after whatever process and the smallest container I have available holds 50, I'm not going to add 10 liters of a wine with different chemistry to it and I'm not going to discard 50 bottles worth of excess at $25 a bottle out of the tasting room.

That was the OP's situation. So what can be done in that situation and stll make a good product without dividing it into carboys he may or may not have?
This got me wondering (and slapping my forehead). OP said he had 400 vines, and I just glossed over that tidbit. He's talking about way more than 12-13 gallons, right? That's just the remainder. What range of volume might 400 vines produce, ballpark?
 
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This got me wondering (and slapping my forehead). OP said he had 400 vines, and I just glossed over that tidbit. He's talking about way more than 12-13 gallons, right? That's just the remainder. What range of volume might 400 vines produce, ballpark?

Generally 2-3 bottles per vine. So low side 800 bottles or about 160 gallons, high side 1200 bottles or 240 gallons.
 

Fox Squirrel Vin

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This got me wondering (and slapping my forehead). OP said he had 400 vines, and I just glossed over that tidbit. He's talking about way more than 12-13 gallons, right? That's just the remainder. What range of volume might 400 vines produce, ballpark?
Figure a gallon per vine. Results vary but that's a good average. 12-15 pounds of grapes to a gallon of juice.
 

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