February 18, 2022
Happy National Drink Wine Day!
Compressed Air in the Wine Industry
We just couldn’t miss recognizing this great national holiday! Did you know air compressors are used in wine production amongst their many other uses? There are many ways compressed air is used throughout the process of grapes becoming wine. Let’s go through the parts of the wine-making process that compressed air powers:
The first step to turning fresh grapes into wine is to crush them to obtain the juices. When the grapes’ skin is broken, the juices mix with the skins absorbing flavors, colors, and tannins necessary for a delicious bottle of wine. Air compressors are needed to consistently crush these grapes and are commonly used with a bladder press. To assist in depicting this process, here’s the short version: the air compressors pump air, the air inflates the vat, which then crushes the grapes, and then the juices that flow out of the crushed grapes run out of the vent holes.
A large part of the fermentation process is centered around the heating and cooling of the liquid that is to become wine. Because fermentation requires specific temperature ranges, compressed air equipment is used to regulate temperatures. The compressed air systems designed for wineries enable winemakers to avoid issues of extreme temperature fluctuation that can hurt the quality of wine produced. Sometimes, if the temperature exceeds or falls short of the ideal range, the wine may not be able to be finished at all and winemakers must restart the whole process with fresh grapes. This is what using compressed air aims to prevent.
Filtration, Drying, & Aeration
The best way to ensure clean, filtered, and dry wine is to install a filtration system. Aeration is essential to this step, prior to bottling, as it allows oxygen to enter the liquid and help create its softness & flavor. At this stage in the process, wineries should consider utilizing oil-free compressors as they lessen the risk of contaminating the wine with oil.
Now that the grapes have been transformed into wine, the tanks need to be drained into individually labeled bottles. This is the most common use of an air compressor in wineries and many manufacturing applications. The pressurized air is utilized to move the wine from the barrels to the bottle and for maintaining clean, water-free lines.
After bottling the wine, a process known as sparging is crucial to the finished product. Nitrogen generation is used at this stage to remove oxygen from the bottles that could pollute the desired quality of the wine. The bottles are turned upside down and a first blast of air removes any particles present. Next, the bottles are rotated upright and filled with nitrogen. This nitrogen forces unwanted air out of the wine bottles.
Corking & Labeling
Oxygen-free wine is now ready to be corked and sent off to a store for you to enjoy! The cork is inserted into the bottle via compressed air and pushed tightly into the neck of the bottle. This process forms a vacuum that sucks the air out of the bottle and ensures every last bit of oxygen is removed. During labeling, compressed air helps consistently apply labels in a clean and well-oriented manner.
The compressed air and nitrogen equipment necessary to perform these winemaking processes are all pieces of equipment Zorn Compressor & Equipment can supply you with. Reach out to an account representative today to see how we can service your vineyard and winery! Now that you’ve learned all about compressed air in the winemaking process, sit down, relax, and pour yourself a delicious glass of wine. You’ve earned it!
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