Homemade vs. Commercial and what I am doing to close the gap

Wine Making Talk

Help Support Wine Making Talk:

purpletongue

Member
Joined
May 13, 2020
Messages
96
Reaction score
39
Potassium is in the grapes in combined forms like potassium sulfate and potassium phosphate. The potassium ions K+ become disassociated in the wine and reattach to tartaric acid to form potassium bitartrate, which is a stable salt. The potassium combines preferentially to tartaric acid and not the malic acid, this can also imbalance the acid ratios.
Are you a chemist or just nerdy?
 

Snafflebit

Junior Member
Joined
Oct 9, 2013
Messages
328
Reaction score
216
Location
San Jose, California
Are you a chemist or just nerdy?
My undergrad electrical engineering classes were beating the snot out of me. Dispirited, I decided to try organic chemistry and life sciences. I thought that these classes would be easier LOLOLOL. I graduated as an MSEE

Snafflebit = 🤓
 
Last edited:

cmason1957

CRS Sufferer
WMT Supporter
Joined
Aug 5, 2011
Messages
4,442
Reaction score
4,350
Location
O'Fallon, MO - Just NorthWest of St. Louis, MO
My undergrad electrical engineering classes were beating the snot out of me. Dispirited, I decided to try organic chemistry and life sciences. I thought that these classes would be easier LOLOLOL. I graduated as an MSEE

Snafflebit = 🤓
You are not alone in that career path for certain, but I stayed an EE the whole time, the one chemistry course that was required was enough for me to know not to go that way and since EE is pretty much just 4 years of fancy math, I was set. Of course, then I went down the Computer Sciences path and got my Masters in that and promptly forgot all that math stuff.
 

NorCal

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
Joined
Apr 17, 2014
Messages
3,351
Reaction score
3,754
Location
Sierra Foothills, Nor Cal
I can see wine making be a draw to people with an analytical bent, as there is a lot of applied science. I was a bio-chem under grad for a while, until I decided not to pursue dentistry, so I got some of the chem basics down. I finished my undergrad in industrial technology, followed by an mba.
 
Joined
Dec 2, 2020
Messages
39
Reaction score
24
I am surprised no one has suggested oxygen exposure yet.

After racking UC Davis does tricks with their floating cover tanks as covering the tank with a plastic shroud and bleeding nitrogen in. Have also seen setups where they have plastics and keep a slight positive pressure on the system with N2
Ive heard of commercial wineries using dry ice when “pressing off” whatever that is to achieve the same thing.
 

sour_grapes

Victim of the Invasion of the Avatar Snatchers
Joined
Sep 19, 2013
Messages
12,355
Reaction score
11,796
Location
near Milwaukee
My undergrad electrical engineering classes were beating the snot out of me. Dispirited, I decided to try organic chemistry and life sciences. I thought that these classes would be easier LOLOLOL. I graduated as an MSEE

Snafflebit = 🤓
You are not alone in that career path for certain, but I stayed an EE the whole time, the one chemistry course that was required was enough for me to know not to go that way and since EE is pretty much just 4 years of fancy math, I was set. Of course, then I went down the Computer Sciences path and got my Masters in that and promptly forgot all that math stuff.
I can see wine making be a draw to people with an analytical bent, as there is a lot of applied science. I was a bio-chem under grad for a while, until I decided not to pursue dentistry, so I got some of the chem basics down. I finished my undergrad in industrial technology, followed by an mba.
But the guy who knows the MOST about this is busy hand-making masa from blue corn he grew and processed (nixtamalized, stone-ground) himself...
 

PSlattery

Junior
Joined
May 18, 2018
Messages
27
Reaction score
15
Location
Massachusetts
I would say do be careful with the saignee method, don't remove to much. Before you ask, I don't know how much is to much. I do know I had 300 lbs of St. Vincent, which is a hybrid red grape grown in the midwest, drained off enough juice to make 6 gallons of rose. While the rose was very good, the main wine was horribly over tannic and very recently my wife and I decided it was best fed to the Gods of the drain.
I have also made an over tannic Tempranillo with the similar quantities of grapes but I pulled enough juice off for 5 total gallons of rose. The rose taste great but the rest tast really tannic and will try to blend a little in with some Cabernet. Personally If I add the skins in from the rose I will keep it at the 10% range going forward.
 

MiBor

IN VINO VERITAS
WMT Supporter
Joined
May 10, 2019
Messages
93
Reaction score
81
Location
Michigan
Personally If I add the skins in from the rose I will keep it at the 10% range going forward.
I processed 360 lbs. of California grapes this year to make a Super Tuscan blend. I pulled a little over 3 gallons for rose in the beginning and ended up with about 26 gallons of wine fermented on skins, so my saignee was in the 10-12% range. I also did complete rack-and-returns every day since I couldn't really punch the cap in my 120L Speidel fermenters with so many skins. The wine is already very good. I can tell that saignee made a significant difference. The color, flavor and tannins are more concentrated in this year's wine than in any other wines I made in the past without pulling any juice in the beginning. I believe that after 7-8 months of barrel aging I'll have a truly awesome wine, definitely the best I've made so far. I credit these forums and this thread for the knowledge to make this happen.
 

NorCal

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
Joined
Apr 17, 2014
Messages
3,351
Reaction score
3,754
Location
Sierra Foothills, Nor Cal
I processed 360 lbs. of California grapes this year to make a Super Tuscan blend. I pulled a little over 3 gallons for rose in the beginning and ended up with about 26 gallons of wine fermented on skins, so my saignee was in the 10-12% range. I also did complete rack-and-returns every day since I couldn't really punch the cap in my 120L Speidel fermenters with so many skins. The wine is already very good. I can tell that saignee made a significant difference. The color, flavor and tannins are more concentrated in this year's wine than in any other wines I made in the past without pulling any juice in the beginning. I believe that after 7-8 months of barrel aging I'll have a truly awesome wine, definitely the best I've made so far. I credit these forums and this thread for the knowledge to make this happen.
That is awesome @MiBor . I have found a lot of little positive actions add up to a significant overall improvement, but saignee is for sure one of the top ones in order to get the extraction and depth of flavor without the benefit of temperature controlled cold soak & fermentation that the good commercial operators have . Congratulations.
 

Gilmango

Member
Joined
Feb 15, 2021
Messages
43
Reaction score
45
Stumbled on this great thread by searching 'bulk v bottle aging'. Ironically I don't see that discussed much here but this is exactly the sort of thread I want to follow if I keep making wine, hence my comment. (New winemaker 3 kits in with 2 to go, then probably trying whole grapes this fall since I'm blessed to live in NorCal myself, in SF).
 

NorCal

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
Joined
Apr 17, 2014
Messages
3,351
Reaction score
3,754
Location
Sierra Foothills, Nor Cal
Stumbled on this great thread by searching 'bulk v bottle aging'. Ironically I don't see that discussed much here but this is exactly the sort of thread I want to follow if I keep making wine, hence my comment. (New winemaker 3 kits in with 2 to go, then probably trying whole grapes this fall since I'm blessed to live in NorCal myself, in SF).
Welcome...if you want commercial quality Cab Franc grapes, destemmed and crushed for you and you are willing to drive a few hours to get it, send me a PM.
 

jsbeckton

Senior Member
Joined
May 23, 2016
Messages
539
Reaction score
229
Stumbled on this great thread by searching 'bulk v bottle aging'. Ironically I don't see that discussed much here but this is exactly the sort of thread I want to follow if I keep making wine, hence my comment. (New winemaker 3 kits in with 2 to go, then probably trying whole grapes this fall since I'm blessed to live in NorCal myself, in SF).
I made the WE Lodi cab 2 times and bottled per the instructions (1st) and also bottles after one year (2nd). Honestly never could tell any difference. I’d say it’s maybe helpful if you are using an oak adjunct that extracts slower but I would expect the differences to be subtle. If you are looking for a bigger improvement I’d suggest you give all grapes a try before you invest in many more kits. Wish I had made the move sooner myself.
 

MiBor

IN VINO VERITAS
WMT Supporter
Joined
May 10, 2019
Messages
93
Reaction score
81
Location
Michigan
Stumbled on this great thread by searching 'bulk v bottle aging'. Ironically I don't see that discussed much here but this is exactly the sort of thread I want to follow if I keep making wine
I remember wondering about that myself in the beginning, when I was making wine from juice and kits. After I started using grapes I realized that 8-12 months of bulk aging are necessary for the wine to completely clear, for tannins to convert and oak/acid to be integrated properly. When I started using oak barrels, bulk aging necessity became even more obvious as the MOX process takes a long time.
There are many other reasons bulk aging for a year is thought of by many as an unquestionable part of wine making. Personally, I want my wine to be as close as possible to a "finished" form before it goes into bottles. When it comes to wine, I don't like surprises.
 

Gilmango

Member
Joined
Feb 15, 2021
Messages
43
Reaction score
45
I made the WE Lodi cab 2 times and bottled per the instructions (1st) and also bottles after one year (2nd). Honestly never could tell any difference. I’d say it’s maybe helpful if you are using an oak adjunct that extracts slower but I would expect the differences to be subtle. If you are looking for a bigger improvement I’d suggest you give all grapes a try before you invest in many more kits. Wish I had made the move sooner myself.
Thanks for the input. I feel like many here preach bulk aging, but many are doing grapes not kits, often using barrels, doing malolactic ferments, etc. where it could easily take 6-12 months. With kit wines it seems like the advantages of bulk aging are a bit less, and that if the wine is clear and free of CO2, it will generally age faster in the bottle.

But seemingly even kit wines might take advantage of bulk aging as it:
(1) allows you to skip some of the clearing agents (bentonite, chitosan, kieselsol, etc.) as time and a few rackings might get you clear wine without filtering or fining;
(2) might allow the wine time to de-gas naturally without risk of over oxidizing if you have to stir or whip it to de-gas (for those of us new to this, like me, who don't have a vacuum pump this is really worrisome - don't want to bottle with CO2 but don't want to oxidize the wine). But without a barrel or a pump and without temperature control maybe there is still some C02 risk even after 6-12 months of bulk aging and a few rackings if I don't stir it while it is young?;
(3) gives you the opportunity to see what your wine is maturing into so you could, for instance, add tannins or oak or even glycerin, while bulk aging if the wine isn't rounding into what you hoped it would be;
(4) perhaps the most basic, it keeps you from drinking the wine too soon, before it peaks.

I'm sure there are other possible advantages of bulk aging, even for kit wines, and I'd love to hear them. But at the end of the day, if the wine is clear, CO2 free, tastes OK (you feel no need to add things), and you can exercise patience (not tempted to open too many bottles too soon), maybe bottle aging is just as good (or better if it ages faster).

To be clear, I am not in a big race. I've started experimenting with extended macerations which add weeks to my process, and I'm willing to do other things which add time, if they will give me a better end product. Just not sure how much bulk aging will add (vs. bottle aging). And I am eager for the feedback of seeing whether I can make something I would enjoy drinking.
 

cmason1957

CRS Sufferer
WMT Supporter
Joined
Aug 5, 2011
Messages
4,442
Reaction score
4,350
Location
O'Fallon, MO - Just NorthWest of St. Louis, MO
I seldom bottle a big red kit wine before a year of bulk aging. That being said, I often add some extra tannin adjuncts, maybe some extra oak, some extra something to make the taste what I want before it goes into the bottle. To me bulk aging is always preferable over bottle aging, no matter what the beginning materials were. I just feel that bulk aging allows everything in the batch to come to some level of equilibrium.

The exceptions I make are for things like skeeter pee and lower alcohol wine cooler kits (of course I always increase the alcohol to at least 10%).
 
Top