Nitrogen for Wine Sparging, Bottling and Blanketing
January 14, 2020
The process of winemaking requires adherence to delicately balanced techniques to obtain wines of the highest possible quality. As with any other beverage-making process, winemakers must contend with biological and chemical processes that may taint the winery’s production.
Bacterial contamination and chemical oxidation are the most crucial points of friction in wine production. Oxidation and contamination can alter the color, flavor, and aroma of wine, resulting in poor quality.
The use of nitrogen throughout each of the wine production steps can help prevent undesirable oxidation processes. In this article, we will discuss how a nitrogen winery generator can be effectively utilized to maintain a high-quality product.
When to Use a Nitrogen Generator for Wine
The unique physical properties of nitrogen gas make it very suitable for use in different stages of the winemaking process. Nitrogen gas is colorless and odorless which is ideal as it will not affect the aroma or alter the brew color. In most industrial wine distilleries, nitrogen is employed in the processes of flushing, sparging wine, and blanketing.
Container and Hose Flushing
Channeling grape juice and wine through containers, vats, pumps, and hoses exposes it to an increased quantity of oxygen and bacteria that can alter the ongoing chemical processes in an undesirable manner. Flushing the fermenting vats, channels, and hoses with nitrogen gas will help to displace oxygen from the wine process and prevent harmful oxidation reactions.
Significant amounts of oxygen can dissolve in wine both during the fermentation and aging stages of production. A key method of removing the dissolved oxygen is by sparging the wine with nitrogen gas, argon, or carbon dioxide. When bubbled through wine, these gases will help release the dissolved oxygen and preserve its quality.
Nitrogen gas can be used to flush wine bottles both before and after filling. This process known as blanketing can also be applied in partially filled containers and wine storage units to remove oxygen from the empty space.
What Is Wine Sparging?
Wine sparging is a technique of gaseous contaminant removal where a specially selected gas (typically nitrogen although argon and carbon monoxide may also be used) is bubbled into the brew to remove dissolved oxygen. This process helps to ensure the production of high-quality wine as harmful oxidation is minimized. Due to differences in the way white and red wines are created, the sparging processes used in their production are also varied.
White Wine Sparging
Although sparging white wine can be done using nitrogen, a carbon dioxide-nitrogen mixture will produce the best results in terms of preservation of aroma and freshness.
Red Wine Sparging
Except for a few red wines which require the retention of trace amounts of carbon dioxide during fermentation, most red wines can be efficiently sparged with nitrogen alone.
Sparging Wine with CO2
For some types of wine, retaining a certain amount of carbon dioxide is necessary to obtain their unique flavors. In these cases, bubbling carbon dioxide gas through fermenting wine is the ideal way to sparge. The dissolved oxygen is easily eliminated and leaves some dissolved CO2 in the wine.
Sparging Wine with Argon
Another useful gas employed in wine sparging is argon. Argon gas wine sparging can effectively remove the oxygen dissolved in the brew while leaving it chemically unaltered and without causing any changes to its color or flavor. Winemakers can take advantage of the fact that argon is heavier than atmospheric air to displace it from their brewing vats.
Sparging Wine with Nitrogen
Nitrogen sparging to remove oxygen from wine is one of the most cost-effective and efficient ways to prevent oxidation and preserve wine quality. Nitrogen bubbling to remove oxygen from a wine brew will displace the unwanted gas in addition to other gaseous contaminants.
Key benefits of using nitrogen for wine sparging include:
- Nitrogen is one of nature’s most commonly occurring elements and can be easily and cheaply harnessed
- A lower density compared to other sparging options make nitrogen easy to handle during production processes
- On-site production is possible as industrial nitrogen generators can supply exact quantities of the required gas, removing the need for transport and storage of gas cylinders
Where to Get Nitrogen Gas
The most economical and ideal way to source the nitrogen needed for wine sparging is by the use of on-site PSA or membrane nitrogen generators. The use of these devices will improve the overall efficiency of the sparging process as only the required amounts of nitrogen needed will be generated.
Further, the use of nitrogen generators will eliminate the hazards associated with the transport and storage of gaseous nitrogen cylinders while freeing vital floor space for other uses.
GENERON Has the Right Winery Nitrogen Generators for You
In over four decades of existence, GENERON has provided its clients with the most efficient nitrogen production technology that targets maximum industrial productivity in a cost-effective manner. Our portable nitrogen generators have been effectively utilized in various industrial processes that require a small footprint including wine production.
Contact us today for more information about the services GENERON offers!