I have to bring this up a bit since it's something I've been thinking about lately. I'm a brewer and in general I believe it's not good to swirl, stir, whip to foam any beer in it's secondary stage and beyond.
So I finally ponied up and made a kit wine. The instructions tell me to whip to a foam while adding the sulfites and chitosan. This is at a point where the instrucations say my Gravity is low enough to move to the next step.
Anyway, whipping to a foam? Since that was such an affront to my nature, I checked with a long time wine maker. This dude ferments in an open crock with a diameter of roughly 4 feet. I forget how many gallons he does but he's Italian and his poppas, poppa made wine and if you don't get your grapes on time, well... etc.
Anyway, what he said basically echoed what Yooper said. He takes his sweet ass time. He doesn't even add yeast but lets the grapes do their thing.
He recognized that kits have the stuff to enable someone to clarify/stabilize faster. He said he figures he's gassed out after fermenting for a year...
I can tell you now that tasting something before it's degassed versus after, I can definitely taste the gas. This happens in my younger meads too...
Apparently and based on my understanding from reading, you would degass so that you can further clarify. The idea is that the brew has gas holding particles in suspension so if you degass it, it will start to clarify...I think I buy this concept in the short run.
So now my question is this.
If we all buy into the concept that a fermenting beverage (wine and mead in this case) under an airlock will basically be full of C02, does it not follow that you can safely swirl, shake, degass a carboy of wine without fear of oxidation?
If this is true, does this then mean that our favorite wines and meads are actually taking longer to clarify and gas out simply because we are not swirling them up?
Can we not shorten our time from brew to bottle by degassing at some point without fear of oxidation? All other factors aside...
I look forward to hearing from some long term wine makers.