A wine airlock is an ingenious invention that will help keep your wine from oxidizing and being ruined. Too much oxygen contact is bad for wine and can make it turn brown. A wine airlock can help prevent this. An airlock is simply a small device that is filled with water that acts as a trap. This trap is designed to let gasses out without letting air in. This helps to keep your wine stable and stop air from getting in to spoil your wine. It also keeps unwanted airborne bacteria, bugs, and etc from entering your wine. There are two basic designs of wine airlocks. The first is the double doubler type design that has two chambers that are filled with water. The second is a more simple cylinder design that has a floating “cap” that lets the gasses out.
How to Use a Wine Airlock
Using an airlock is simple. You simply fill the airlock up to the fill line with water, a metabisulfite solution, or even alcohol like vodka. Then you attach the airlock to a hole in a rubber bung or stopper that attaches to your fermentation container (usually a glass carboy).
You should be using a wine airlock during your secondary fermentation. This is after your first fermentation has taken place and you have racked your wine into a glass carboy. Airlocks shouldn’t be used during primary fermentation. We recommend open primary fermentation. We simply cover our buckets with thin towels. The amount of gas generated during primary fermentation is so great that the wine will be protected without an airlock. Air is actually important for healthy fermentation at the beginning. A wine airlock used at the primary fermentation stage can actually inhibit yeast growth.
Different makes of Wine Airlocks
We briefly discussed the two common types of wine airlocks above: the double bubbler and the cylinder airlock. These are the two types of airlocks that you will want to purchase. However, these airlocks can be made out of different types of material. You can find these in both glass and plastic. Neither material really matters for a wine airlock but the glass airlocks appear to be stronger than the cheaper plastic ones. I have had a few plastic airlocks break while attempting to push them into the carboy bung. Keep this in mind when you are thinking about which airlock to get. The breaking problem may not be enough to have you spend the extra money on a glass airlock or you may want to make the investment.
Buy Wine Airlocks
You can buy wine airlocks in many places online or sat your favorite local wine supply store. We’ve put together a shortlist of some of the better wine airlocks that you can find online.