Friday, 21 February 2014

Gassing Out

Firstly, I just want to be very clear that this post title is not referring to a situation resulting from too many baked beans, or clearing a room full if people.  No, 'gassing out' is a new technique I learnt this week whereby wine that has been stored in barrels is transferred to a tank using gas displacement.

The setup for 'gassing out' is very similar to an industrial beer keg.  Basically, the arm contains a hose which fits in the barrel through the bung hole and reaches most of the way down into the barrel.  Above this, there is a bung and clamp which allow the arm to sit comfortably on the bung hole and prevent any gas from escaping.  This also facilitates the dispersion of gas into the wine.  

The tee section that can be seen in the picture below is where the gas line is attached.  Nitrogen is used as the inert gas of choice.  As the gas is introduced into the barrel, it creates a downward pressure that forces liquid wine up through the hose and out through the arm, from where it is directed to a small tank with a dosing pump and can then be transferred to the desired storage tank.

equipment for gassing out
In the example depicted, we were transferring chardonnay, and it smelt amazing coming out of the barrels - all buttery, oaky goodness.  Barrel work is definitely one of the more enjoyable aspects of cellar work, although I may be biased, as most of my work to date has been with stainless steel tanks, so working with the barrels is more of a novelty.

barrels full of chardonnay ready for transfer to tank