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Techniques in Home Winemaking

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Wine is fizzy or carbonated

A fizzy or carbonated wine points to the presence of dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2) gas.

Possible Causes

Corrective Actions, if any

a) Residual CO2 gas still present in wine

b) Incomplete alcoholic or malolactic fermentation

a) Degas wine by racking, stirring or using a vacuum pump

b) Let alcoholic or malolactic fermentation complete

In the simplest case, a slightly fizzy wine may be the result of rushed winemaking or insufficient degassing, conditions often seen in wine that is produced and bottled too quickly.

A fizzy wine can also be the result of incomplete alcoholic or malolactic fermentations, often because of rushed winemaking or poor monitoring. A more serious situation is when wine starts refermenting, either alcoholic or malolactic, particularly if the wine is already bottled, which can cause bottles to explode.

Corrective actions will depend on the chemistry of the wine, and if it is still in bulk containers or if it has already been bottled.

If in bulk, first assess by hydrometry and paper chromatography whether the wine has completed alcoholic and malolactic fermentations. If the wine has not completed alcoholic fermentation, let fermentation run its course; if it is sluggish or stuck, take appropriate corrective actions. If the wine has not completed MLF, where it is desired, let it run its course; if it is sluggish or stuck, take appropriate corrective actions. Where MLF is not desired, even though it may have started, take immediate corrective actions to inhibit MLB. When all fermentation is complete, there will still be some CO2 gas dissolved in the wine but it will dissipate over time, and so be sure to keep a fermentation lock on the container. Stabilize the wine as required.

If you want to bottle the wine quickly – and only after you are absolutely certain that all fermentation is complete – you will need to degas the wine. You can degas by racking and/or by stirring the finished wine vigorously 2 or 3 times per day until there is no perceptible gas. Do not overdo it to avoid accelerating oxidation, and be sure to properly stabilize the wine prior to degassing. An alternative method of degassing wine is by using an electric vacuum pump. Connect the pump and tubing to a carboy being sure it is properly sealed to effectively operate under vacuum. Leave some headspace in the carboy as you will need to shake the carboy vigorously. Start the pump and shake the carboy to dissipate CO2 gas as much as possible, and continue for several minutes until there is no more bubbling from the wine.

If CO2 gas is detected in bottled wine (hopefully before bottles start exploding), you will need to pour all bottles from that batch into a large container, then follow the instructions above for completing either or both fermentations.

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