WINE INDUSTRY: HOW TO MONITOR THE GASEOUS OXYGEN IN THE HEADSPACE OF BOTTLES
A process that allows to optimize the bottling process and guarantee the organoleptic characteristics of the product.
The presence of oxygen in the headspace of bottles stoppered with corks can often have negative effects, because it causes oxidation and alters the organoleptic characteristics of the wine.
WHY AND WHEN TO CHECK OXYGEN IN THE HEADSPACE?
In particular, the oxidation of the phenolic compounds in the wine can cause changes to the aroma and browning or fading of the color. The total quantity of oxygen inside the bottle is known as the TPO (Total Package Oxygen).
Laser spectroscopy in wine industry
It consists of the dissolved oxygen (DO) in the wine when the bottle is filled, and the gaseous oxygen in the space between the upper surface of the wine and the closure (Head Space Oxygen or HSO). TPO = DO + HSO.
It is vital to check the amount of oxygen in the headspace (HSO) immediately after corking because the gaseous oxygen will begin to dissolve slowly into the wine. This process continues at every stage after bottling and can have a significant impact on the shelf-life of the wine, even if there was only a very small amount of DO at the start.
MANAGEMENT OF OXYGEN DURING THE CRUCIAL BOTTLING STAGE
The inclusion of superfluous oxygen during bottling leads to the problems associated with oxidation, causing defects in the wine, and affecting its shelf life. Unfortunately, by that stage it is too late to intervene. Inerting procedures such as nitrogen sparging or a vacuum pump are used to eliminate and/or reduce the gaseous oxygen in the headspace. However, the quantity of dissolved or gaseous oxygen cannot be dependably controlled by the use of inert gases (N2, Argon and CO2) if the inerting equipment itself is not subjected to regular checks. It is therefore important to check the oxygen concentration immediately after corking, to ensure that the whole bottling process is working properly.
INNOVATIVE INLINE SYSTEM FOR MONITORING OXYGEN CONCENTRATION
FT system, part of the Antares Vision Group, has developed a new system for inline checks on oxygen concentration, which allow the producer to monitor all of his wine output. An inspection is carried out at line speed immediately after corking. This allows you to test for oxygen concentration in the headspace that exceeds the standard levels, and which is due to poor functioning of the inerting systems during filling and corking. The constant monitoring of the production process allows one to take immediate action to counteract inefficient performance, and so avoid bottling large quantities of wine with potentially compromised quality.
NON-DESTRUCTIVE CHECKS BASED ON LASER SPECTROSCOPY
A laser beam is positioned at the correct height on the production line and passes through the headspace in the bottle. This system exploits a particular physical property of certain molecules of oxygen in its gaseous state, which only absorb light at certain specific wavelengths. This allows you to get very fast, accurate measurements of oxygen concentration in closed containers, and also of partial and total pressure.
ADVANTAGES FOR THE MARKET
The ability to detect in real time any increase in gaseous oxygen in the head space of the bottle during the production process constitutes a very important form of monitoring, and a way to ensure the shelf life of the wine.
The FT System PCS 700 IoT allows you to achieve this result, and so prevents you putting wine on the market whose organoleptic characteristics and aroma will alter over time, as a result of oxidation caused by gaseous oxygen.
Gionatan Gualazzini, Wine and Spirits Business Development Manager at FT System, gave the following explanation: "The great change that the PCS 700 IoT brings to quality controls in wine relates to the possibility it offers for inline checks on gaseous oxygen concentration immediately after corking. This avoids the production of thousands of bottles with inherent defects that might affect the quality of the wine. If you carry out an oxygen, check on a sample of the finished product and then realise that the inerting system is malfunctioning, it is by that stage rather too late. Thousands of bottles will have already been produced in the knowledge that the shelf life of the wine has already been compromised. With FT System's innovative inspection procedure, you can now guarantee the quality of your wine, protect your brand, and prevent inefficiency during the bottling process."