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This is probably a really dumb question, but is it bad to shake or swirl the container my wine is in to encourage the release of CO2? I accidentally found out that jarring the container results in tons of air bubbles coming out of the airlock. Is this a bad thing to do? Is it a good thing? Will it make fermentation go a little faster? Will it actively harm the process? (I suspect the answer is "Just leave it alone!")

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

Stirring of the must during fermentation to off gas CO2 is a technique often used in commercial wine making. The stirring will not only release the co2 which is toxic to the yeast but it will also add oxygen which is essential for the growth phase. You can do this until the fermentation is about 50% complete because the yeast will consume the oxygen preventing oxidation. This process will speed the fermentation process and reduce the production of higher alcohols and common off flavors. The wine will also need less aging time and can be consumed sooner.

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It's definitely ok in the initial stages of fermentation, although once a significant amount of dead yeast and trub has settled out, I would avoid it, since shaking it will stir this up and might give your wine some off flavors.

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