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The End of the Bottle: Kegging for Winemakers

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The rare Colby salvaging bottles

Kegs for Beer

Beer on tap is an awesome advance for homebrewers. Instead of filling and capping four dozen 12-ounce bottles and then carefully storing them, the brewer racks their beer into a keg, hooks up a few lines and adjusts their gas pressure, and in no time they can pour off a pint any time they like--not only that, if they want half a glass or a whole pitcher, there's no waste and no worry about opening another bottle. 

Why are they grinning? Because they didn't have to bottle!

But What About Winemakers?

It's true that bottling is less of a chore for winemakers: we only need to fill around 30 bottles, but we need corks and a corker, never mind collecting and storing a bottles, along with all the associated washing and scrubbing. Even if it's not arduous, it's still probably the least fun step of making your wine.

The other thing about bottles is their size:  if you only need a cup of wine to make a sauce, the rest of the wine is going to be exposed to air and could spoil before you use it. And If you're serving a dozen people at a gathering, you need to open a couple of bottles. And if you're taking wine over to someone's house for a barbecue or party, you have to make sure you get your bottles back! 

At Master Vintner we thought, 'Why do the beer guys get all the cool toys?' And that's when the Master Vintner Cannonball Kegging system was born. 

Not sure what kind of cannon, but it is a round little keg

How-To

The system includes 

  • Master Vintner® Cannonball Small Batch Mini Keg
  • Master Vintner® Wine Snap Tap™ 
  • Mini gas regulator w/ gas ball lock disconnect 
  • Nitrogen Cartridge, 18g 
  • Complete instructions

It's easy to use. When your wine is finished, clear and stable, at the point where you'd bottle it:

  1. Clean and sanitize the Cannonball keg
  2. Fill it with wine
  3. Attach the lid
  4. Assemble and attach the nitrogen regulator
  5. Purge the keg by flushing it with nitrogen
  6. Attach the Snap Tap 
  7. Pour yourself a glass of delicious, ready-to-drink wine!

You can either bottle up the rest of your batch (if you made a full 6-gallon batch) or rack some of it into a sanitized 3-gallon carboy and a few bottles so you can re-fill the Cannonball.

The killer applications for this system are a) using only as much wine as you need, and b) taking wine anywhere you need it. Because the keg is purged and the wine is dispensed with inert nitrogen gas it doesn't oxidise or spoil. In fact, the wine will last longer in the keg than it would in a bottle with a regular cork! If you have a glass of wine every day (and hey, that sounds like a pretty fine idea!) you'd have a bottle sitting partly empty for four or five days, losing flavour and aroma with each passing hour--not with the Cannonball! Every glass will taste exactly the same. 

Bringing your homemade wine to picnics, family get-togethers, parties, the beach or cottage couldn't be easier: detach the tap and regulator and the Cannonball is ready to be packed anywhere it will fit. Unlike glass bottles, it won't break (don't drop it though: you could dent it a little!) and it has convenient handles on top. 

The keg is small enough to fit onto a standard refrigerator shelf and will even fit into a picnic cooler, so you can have perfectly chilled white wine or fruit wines to enjoy on hot summer days. Or ice cold red wine--we don't judge. 

Here's a video of me using my Cannonball keg--I can't believe how this changes the way I use wine at home, and I'm eager to take it to parties.

The Bottom Line

Bottles are still romantic and there's satisfaction in the sound of a popping cork, but for the kind of wine that you make for pure enjoyment, for your friends, family and your table, the Master Vintner® Cannonball Keg is an awesome way to save time and get just the right amount of wine to suit you. 


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