Wine-making is a delicate and sophisticated process that requires a skilled hand and deep knowledge of the science behind it. When wine is aging, it is crucial that the wine is protected from any contact with oxygen – if oxygen happens to seep into the cask or barrel, yeast and aerobic bacteria can grow. Oxidation can spoil the wine and drastically change its color, taste, and aroma, ruining years of hard labor.
A solution to wine-making’s oxygen issue comes in the form of another common atmospheric gas: nitrogen. By using a nitrogen generator, like the ones supplied by On Site Gas, winemakers can reduce oxygen levels in the environment to preserve the wine’s integrity.
How Do Nitrogen Generators Work?
On Site Gas offers multiple nitrogen generator options, including PSA Nitrogen Generator Systems, Membrane Generators, Container Systems, and Cylinder Filling Systems. For wine-making, On Site Gas recommends the use of a PSA Nitrogen Generator System.
PSA systems take the air we breathe and separate nitrogen molecules from oxygen molecules. This creates a flow of nitrogen gas that can be injected in multiple stages of the wine-making process.
How Does This Benefit the Wine?
Winemakers aim to create a nitrogen blanket across any surfaces where oxygen residue may lie, such as wine bottles, casks, and hoses. This creates a barrier between the wine and the oxygen molecules, reducing the risk of oxidation. Winemakers can use nitrogen generators in many steps while they’re storing, aging, and bottling wine.
- During the bottling process, winemakers use nitrogen generators to flush wine bottles of oxygen before filling them. This prevents any oxygen residue from mixing with the wine and sparking the oxidation process before the bottle is opened.
- After the wine has left the cask, winemakers flush the inside of the container with nitrogen to remove evaporated wine. This removes any oxygen residue before the next batch is made.
- Sometimes, a winemaker will need to transfer wine from one cask to another container. Oxygen can easily mix with the exposed wine during this process. To combat this, winemakers’ flush tubes and vessels with nitrogen to remove oxygen residue before transferring the wine.
Nitrogen generators also assist with other wine-making processes such as fermentation, de-aeration, carbon dioxide adjustment, storage, and other production activities.
Additional Benefits of Nitrogen Generators
Nitrogen generators are a worthy investment for the serious winemaker. Nitrogen generators help winemakers produce the best quality product and ensure that each bottle leaves the vineyard without a risk of in-bottle oxidation.
In addition, nitrogen generators:
- Are easy and simple to install
- Require little maintenance and upkeep
- Help winemakers wean themselves the use of argon, which is much more expensive than nitrogen
- Reduce the need to sign large contracts with gas suppliers
To learn more about using nitrogen generators in wine-making, visit On Site Gas at the 7th Annual North Coast Wine Industry Expo (WINExpo) in Northern California’s famous wine country. Held at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, WINExpo will take place on December 6th, 2018 and include tastings, demonstrations, and more.