Ask Wine Wizard

Wine Pump Options

TroubleShooting

Rob — The Philippines asks,
Q

I was wondering what I could use that is not very expensive to pump and transfer that won’t leave a plastic taste when I rack my wine from a 70-gallon (265-L) tank? I am living in the Philippines, and equipment is limited here! They have Italian water pumps here for bottled water business and fish and pond pumps as well. Any suggestions?

A
Wow, can I fly to the Philippines for a little research and equipment-scouting trip? We can sample some of your wine, do a little research into tropical fruit winemaking, go see what kind of Italian water pumps you may have in local stores . . . hmmm. Somehow I don’t think that idea would fly with the editors of WineMaker magazine. I would stay away from using fish and pond pump systems for wine. First of all, there is no guarantee the parts will be food grade, and secondly they are built to handle water, which has a much higher pH (around 7.0) than wine (around 3.50). Thirdly, water pumps are not built to handle anything with alcohol in it, and alcohol is an even better solvent than water is. Parts (metal or plastic) in fish and pond pumps could therefore degrade and corrode in the more acidic and alcoholic environment of your wine, leaching potentially toxic compounds into your beverages. Unfortunately the Italian water pump system faces this latter challenge too. Though presumably a food-grade system, it’s a system
Response by Alison Crowe.