Aging Question

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Jose' Miller

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Hello,
I've been reading some on aging of wine but I have a question I'm hoping you can answer. What do you gain from bulk aging vs. bottling and letting it age in there? I'm sure there are benefits because most speak about bulk aging but I am unclear still what benefits it has over bottling.
 

Scooter68

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Some wines can drop continue to drop sediment or precipitate as they age up to a year or longer. Bulk aging permits us to avoid having that happen after it's been bottled.

Secondly, there are occasions where the wines character changes as it ages, in some cases requiring adjustments, but such adjustments are really not possible once you've bottled the wine, unless you want to un-bottle and re-bottle it.

And finally sometimes we find that an aged wine may not need as much back-sweetening after it's well aged. (This is especially true with fruit wines.)
So while you can go ahead and bottle early you may regret that decision in six months or a year.
 

balatonwine

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If you age a bit in oak, you have to do it bulk unless you use hundreds of little oak bottles. :)

Also wine ages non-linearly. After bottling, the wine in each bottle will then start to age in its own direction. So that different bottles of well aged wine are never, really, exactly the same. The longer you bulk age, the more of that wine's bulk aging properties, as a single unit, are transfered as a unifying character to the final bottle aged wine. Thus, the longer you plan to age a wine in a bottle, the longer one would tend to bulk age (up to a point of course).
 

Scooter68

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What makes balatons comments interesting is that if you think about it, most of us are very careful not to disturb the wine container when we rack and when we fill bottles. We don't want to suck up any sediment on the bottom of the carboy, barrel etc. SO the wine, like all solutions, may stratify with different concentrations at different levels in the container. So as you fill bottles the actual wine you put into each bottle is potentially different in make up to a small degree. The only way to avoid this would be to do a final racking immediately before bottling, not really a strange thing to do, then fill bottles while the wine is recently "Stirred" (Not Shaken).
 
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What makes balatons comments interesting is that if you think about it, most of us are very careful not to disturb the wine container when we rack and when we fill bottles. We don't want to suck up any sediment on the bottom of the carboy, barrel etc. SO the wine, like all solutions, may stratify with different concentrations at different levels in the container. So as you fill bottles the actual wine you put into each bottle is potentially different in make up to a small degree. The only way to avoid this would be to do a final racking immediately before bottling, not really a strange thing to do, then fill bottles while the wine is recently "Stirred" (Not Shaken).

I make it a habit to always rack before bottling. My theory is all the properties are not suspended equally and racking prior to bottling helps even things out. again getting back to Balaton's post.
 

pillswoj

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I always rack before filling but for a different reason, generally if I rack and there is sediment left behind I will leave the wine for 3 more months, only when it leaves a clean carboy after 3 months is it ready to bottle. With the racking I add the Kmeta to the new carboy and it gets mixed in as it racks.
 
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Good luck with it Jose. I only started a little before you and have only bottled my kit wines so I have something to drink. All my other wines are either juice buckets or grapes or a combination of both. Not that they are not clear or I'm not dying to bottle them, I'm just having a rough time since bottling is so permanent.
 

Jose' Miller

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Thanks everyone for putting up with my questions which I am sure are basic to all of you. Very new at this and am hoping to make some good wine someday....haha
 
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Scooter68

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All analogies have a fault but try this one anyway.
The most important formative years of a child are often said to be the first 5 years. After that .... we are just keeping them engaged and learning until they mature. Obviously turning a child loose at 5 or even 10 would be crazy but we hope by the time the are 17-18 the have matured enough to be responsible for themselves.
The nature of a wine is determined in the first few days as it ferments. Certainly other important things happen after that but what we put in, getting the balance right, all that initial work is that really determines the success of the wine. After that we are just biding our time and tending to it's needs until it matures but bottling it before it is really ready is sort of like giving that 10 year old your car keys and checkbook.

Now is that one over the top? Hmmm maybe I've had enough tonight. :d
 

Ajmassa

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Not at all! I dig it. And relates to an older topic perfectly.
..........“at what point is wine ‘born’/what point starts aging?”
1. Grapes growing in the vineyard =heavy petting. Getting a feel for each other.
2. Harvest and crush= foreplay and clothing removal
3. Yeast = adult relations.
4. Fermentation = the pregnancy
5. Pressed and racked = baby born but still is hospital
6.Racked off gross lees= baby is safe at home to raise and you pray doesn’t become a screwup as an adult.
Kits would be slightly different. Steps 1 and 2 become “getting hooker” then immediately into pitching yeast.
*Your reports may vary.
Now your raising your baby fresh off the gross lees. Bottling would be this child grown up and moving out- mature enough to handle responsibilities and live on their own. Booting your 13 yr old out the door they might have what it takes to be successful- or they might make every wrong decision possible. Better off waiting until your sure they can handle themselves —-

Bottle a good wine knowing it will get better-instead of bottling a young wine hoping it gets good.
 

GaDawg

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If your wine has cleared, why would wine age differently in a 6 gal glass bottle than it does in a 750 ml glass bottle?
 

pillswoj

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Assuming equal storage conditions it probably doesn't. But my reds always stops a sediment between 9 - 12 months. A year in the carboy helps prevent this. I almost always decant so the so the sediment is not a huge issue unless I am giving the bottle away. I have bottles early before and other then sediment in the bottle, the wine seems to age about the same.

On the sediment issue, I have had many very good Bordeaux that decanting was a requirement.
 

Scooter68

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If your wine has cleared, why would wine age differently in a 6 gal glass bottle than it does in a 750 ml glass bottle?

Read a few threads around here and you'll find many references to "Clear wines" that suddenly precipitated crystals or other sediment well after they appeared to be "clear." Temperature changes, and addition of k-meta and or sorbate, all can cause new sediment to form. That's the unknown nature of wine.

I know that I would never BUY a bottle of wine with sediment in it and if a friend offered me a bottle with sediment in it I might take it but if I wasn't a wine making hobbyist\ myself, I don't know if I'd ever open it
 

Doug’s wines

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@Scooter68 Some of the best wines I’ve ever had were full of sediment. 25 year old Bordeaux, 40 year old Borollo, etc. many reserve Brunellos (which age for legal min 6). There’s nothing implicitly wrong with sediment in a bottle, nor will aging alone ensure all sediment drops.

My opinion now is the bulk aging allows flavor & aroma integration with a slower oxidation curve at the start to finish the process. You get consistency with bulk, and variation in bottles. As previous mentioned, wine ages fine although much faster in a bottle as there is more light exposure, and largersurface /air contact. Peak wine age occurs at the exact right oxidation and integration stage. If you bulk then bottle your peak drinking window should be longer than if you simply bottle early.

Again, this is simply my opinion based on experience and empirical research (read: I drink a lot of wine). I don’t have the math to back this up. Also if I have an inexpensive early drinker, I bottle early. It’s the more expensive, higher effort, reserve quality that deserves the bulk time. Think about the Italians for example Brunello region. Rosso wine - early bottle. Age 3-24 months. Brunello - legally required min bulk age 2 yrs 4 months, reserve Brunello - min required bulk age 6 years.
 

HOOLIE

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Have been bottling after about 60 days no filtering and recently started using plate filter. don't know if it messes up aging. I refrigerate at 57 for six months. You have me convinced to try bulk aging. But do I still filter bulk after 6 months or year or just rack? Thanks
 
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