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How does headspace oxidize wine?

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Pendragon524

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Hello everyone!

My question concerns the finer details of how headspace in secondary fermentation interacts with newly-made wine. On the one hand, one relevant concern is the surface area contact between wine and air. On the other, there is the total volume of air in relation to the volume of wine. A container might have a huge volume of total air but small surface area contact (imagine a narrow cylinder that extends several feet), or the opposite might be true of a container with small air volume but larger surface area contact (think of most wide-mouthed, one-gallon jars filled almost completely full with wine). What factor is more crucial for limiting oxidation in wine? Surface-area contact between wine and air, or the ratio of total air volume to total wine volume? I realize this is a fairly nuanced question, but as I consider what jars to rack my wine into for secondary, the question comes up pretty urgently.
 

MountainHighYeast

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I honestly have been wondering the same thing. I have yet to make wine in a 5 gallon water jug and actually fill it up. I have like half head space.
 

Bobby_M

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It's both. On initial fill, all the headspace is air (21% oxygen) so the smaller that volume is, the less total oxygen you have. The larger the surface area, the faster that oxygen will dissolve. An appropriate level of SO4 via metabisulfite will negate any of those problems.
 

DoctorCAD

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It's not the distance from the top to the surface of the wine that matters. It's how much wine is touching the air, and the oxygen in it. At the top, the surface of wine is really small, a few inches down, it's almost the entire size of the inside of the carboy.
 

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