Bulk aging country wine newbie question

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BigDaveK

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How long to bulk age fruit wine?
My understanding of country wines is that they came about to have something cheap and "quick" to drink.
This is my first wine ever! Apple. Because of a late frost devastating a lot of my trees this is 100% granny smith. Started 10/3/21 so it's 4 months old. The SG is .997, maybe a tad less. I am really tickled because it tastes good! My first wine! Woo hoo! I can taste apple and will probably back sweeten just a bit.

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My original ballpark bottling timeframe was 6 months. Should I start thinking about bottling now or wait? I'm hoping for guidance from those with a boatload more experience than me.

BTW, it took me most of a day to collect, wash, and press the apples for about 2 1/2 gallons of juice but I will definitely increase that this year.
 
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My understanding of country wines is that they came about to have something cheap and "quick" to drink.
This may be partially true, but country wines were typically made because that is what fruit is available -- if you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with!

Should I start thinking about bottling now or wait?
"To bottle, or not to bottle? That is the question!" -- a direct quote from MacBeth the Winemaker.

My experience jives with Mike's, that the apple may peak during the second year. @hounddawg's experience is different, but he makes high ABV & sugar wines, which changes the longevity. You didn't mention the OG, so we don't know what the ABV is, although you're planning a light backsweetening. Without more information, I'd expect a shorter lifespan.

However, given that you have 2 gallons (10 bottles), Chuck's point about it being all gone rather quickly should eliminate the "how long will it age?" question, as it will be pointless! ;)

If it were me? I'd bottle between now and 2 months from now. Plan at least 2 months in the bottle before popping a cork. Record impressions on each bottle for at least the first year, as it will help you with next year's planning. And your learning, of course!

Put a bottle aside to drink on the 2nd anniversary of starting this wine. That will give you a good idea regarding how long to age future apple wines.

Also, backsweeten all non-grape wines, at least a bit. IME bone dry fruit wines lack fruit character, and it doesn't take much to bring out the aroma and flavor. My last apple (5 gallons) was backsweetened with 2 quarts commercial apple juice, raising the SG from 0.990 to 0.994. It transformed the character of the wine.
 

Rice_Guy

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You have one variable not mentioned, K sorbate. My experience is it is usually safe to back sweeten at nine months without sorbate and always at a year. Under nine months I add K sorbate.
This week I looked at two vintage English ciders from 2014 and 2016. They were pretty good on apple flavor, but missing some of the fresh aroma, ,,, you can age/ make sure to sulphite 50ppm to get ageability. To give my 2021 cyser more identity it got half a cinnamon stick per five gallons. I expect to back sweeten to 1.005 to 1.010/ it has tannic crabs in it, ,, and bottle in a month, ,,, you are in the age range to plan bottling.

Very pretty wine :try
 

Scooter68

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I'm of the mindset that bulk aging has the advantage of allowing you to make adjustments AFTER the wine has reached a very drinkable state, mellowed out. That permits more accurate back-sweetening if desired and of course if there should be any other adjustments you need or want to make. For most of my dark fruit wines that means no less than 9 months aging in bulk. BUT for lighter wines sometimes the flavors are more perishable and the wine is ready to drink much sooner. Pineapple comes to mind as does apple as fruit wines that can be ready drink earlier than many of the darker fruits. However, like many things about wine making there are many different approaches. You certainly can age the wine in the bottle. Lately a number of folks have even talked about back-sweetening by-the-bottle, in other words after they open each bottle. That of course is personal choice, but; if you are giving your wine to folks that seems a bit odd to suggest to someone. "Oh, by the way, when opening this you probably should add a little sugar to the bottle or 'simple syrup.' - Yeah. giving wine away that might not be well received except by folks who have watched you do it and understand a bit more about wine making.
 
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Lately a number of folks have even talked about back-sweetening by-the-bottle, in other words after they open each bottle.
Generally speaking, sweetening by the glass is more time consuming and it's not something I'd do for a bottling I was giving away. I recommended it in a few specific cases where the situation was amenable to this solution.
 

BigDaveK

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Thanks so much everybody!! Great ideas and suggestions!

I was without power for 2 days, no internet or cell service, and couldn't respond sooner.

This being my first time making wine I did a bunch of 1 gallon batches (13) to see what I liked. Yeah, 2 gallons of apple so I can play a little. I also have 2 gallons of pear, 1 with raisins and 1 with tannin. I'm having too much fun. I'm a little concerned that maybe my 13 1-gallon batches will become 13 5-gallon batches. I'll drive off that bridge when I get to it.

And I'm at the age where forgetting about a bottle(s) for a year or so will not be a problem.
 

BigDaveK

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I routinely back sweeten my cider with concentrated apple juice. My last batch needed a little something more so upped the back sweetening with brown sugar.
Yeah, I am so new at this I haven't done ANY back sweetening yet. So many options. I'm leaning towards sugar or a sugar solution the first time to keep it simple and establish a baseline and experiment in the future. I have 2 gallons so I can try 2 options right away. We'll see...
 

BigDaveK

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a couple sargents yellow crab apples will give you a little bump at finish,
Dawg
Great idea. I have a number of mystery crab apples on the property ranging from tart to sweet. I have one that I thought was a cherry tree from a distance. Super sweet. It's always fun to taste something and think, "I wonder if this is poisonous?"
 

Rice_Guy

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We put crabs in for the bitter/ tannic flavors
well yes, and that is where spitting gets excused.
Great idea. I have a number of mystery crab apples on the property ranging from tart to sweet. I have one that I thought was a cherry tree from a distance. Super sweet. It's always fun to taste something and think, "I wonder if this is poisonous?"
 

hounddawg

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Thanks so much everybody!! Great ideas and suggestions!

I was without power for 2 days, no internet or cell service, and couldn't respond sooner.

This being my first time making wine I did a bunch of 1 gallon batches (13) to see what I liked. Yeah, 2 gallons of apple so I can play a little. I also have 2 gallons of pear, 1 with raisins and 1 with tannin. I'm having too much fun. I'm a little concerned that maybe my 13 1-gallon batches will become 13 5-gallon batches. I'll drive off that bridge when I get to it.

And I'm at the age where forgetting about a bottle(s) for a year or so will not be a problem.
you mark my words,, it is way to late to your vintner addiction ... before long you'll , have 30# or better 6 gal carboys or giant stainless still containers.... way,, way to late for you, LMFAO
Dawg
 

hounddawg

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Great idea. I have a number of mystery crab apples on the property ranging from tart to sweet. I have one that I thought was a cherry tree from a distance. Super sweet. It's always fun to taste something and think, "I wonder if this is poisonous?"
not that i know of, sergeants crabapple are super tart, they come in yellow and read, i have yellows and they are bushes, so they are easy to reach,
the rest that i know are trees, but my knowledge is very limited, i never knew any crap apple could be sweet, that sounds good, them serpents wi;; eliminate a watery finish,
Dawg
 

BigDaveK

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you mark my words,, it is way to late to your vintner addiction ... before long you'll , have 30# or better 6 gal carboys or giant stainless still containers.... way,, way to late for you, LMFAO
Dawg
Whoa, whoa, whoa it's not an addiction!!! No way!!! It's....it's....let me think.......dedication! Yeah, that's it. Dedication to the ancient craft and art of wine making. And soon I will dedicate myself to identifying subtle flavors in a glass of my efforts. Perhaps multiple glasses.

(Hmmm...where can I put stainless steel tanks?)
 
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BigDaveK

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not that i know of, sergeants crabapple are super tart, they come in yellow and read, i have yellows and they are bushes, so they are easy to reach,
the rest that i know are trees, but my knowledge is very limited, i never knew any crap apple could be sweet, that sounds good, them serpents wi;; eliminate a watery finish,
Dawg
I've never known a crab apple to be sweet, either. Maybe it's a regular apple with problems. Either way, I have multiple crab apples and never thought much about them. This year will be different, though.
 

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