You probably know dry ice as the cool stuff you add to a drink or bowl to create creepy Halloween fog – or the stuff that helps you ship fresh food overnight, or keep frozen things frozen for a camping trip. But did you know dry ice can be used to make wine?
Now you do!
The fact is, dry ice is used in several aspects of the wine making process. First and foremost, it is used to cool down bunches of grapes immediately after picking to inhibit spontaneous fermentation from wild yeasts (those yeasts ruin all the fun). Why use dry ice over water ice? Because dry ice doesn’t melt – it sublimates (turns straight from a solid to a gas). That means dry ice cools grapes without adding water to the mix; more water means a lower sugar concentration in the grape must (freshly crushed grapes), which means a lower alcohol concentration in the finished wine (and we wouldn’t want to do THAT now, would we?).
Dry ice is also used during the cold soak phase of the wine making process to keep grapes cool (“cold soaking” is pre-fermentation process used to extract color and flavor from grape skins; this extraction also occurs during fermentation, but many winemakers feel cold soaking brings out different, and beneficial, aspects of the grapes).
Lastly, carbon dioxide is used to create a hypoxic environment during carbonic maceration – a wine making process in which grapes are fermented prior to, rather than after, crushing (Beaujolais wines are made this way).
Just another reason to raise a glass to the many amazing uses for dry ice!
Need dry ice for your project or hobby? Irish Carbonic has it in all shapes and sizes. Come visit one of our convenient locations to pick up some dry ice today!