Oxygen

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Ryan Hubble

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So everything I read says oxygen will ruin my wine. All sorts of spoilage faults will occur.

But then there's madeira wine purposely oxygened right out and lasts forever.

Is it merely the fortification and acid that makes it able to handle this? Or is there more to the story?

Whatever they do, I'd like to do to my shiraz
 

CDrew

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I think in Madeira the flavor compounds are oxidized. On purpose even. Hence the brown color and oxidized flavors. But I think the fortification with spirits to 18% or more alcohol prevents actual bacterial spoilage to vinegar. So the wine isn't bad, it's just oxidized. And for an apartief, it's likely fine. But I would not want it as a main line wine. It's more of an occasional curiosity like sherry.

But for the home winemaker, oxygen WILL ruin your wine. So beware.
 

Johnd

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Not to further complicate the issue, and aside from wines like Sherry, Madeira, Tawny Port, etc., over exposure to oxygen is the enemy. Some oxygen is necessary for the development / graceful aging of wine. If you limit exposure as dictated by good winemaking practices during the creation of your wine, and maintain your sulfite levels in the proper range, you'll avoid over exposure of your wine. The oxygen exposure that you get from aging in barrels, plastic tanks, in bottles with cork, etc., is very low and controlled, that's the good exposure. If you are interested in more detailed information, there are plenty articles out there regarding micro-oxygenation, it's pretty interesting reading.
 

Rice_Guy

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oxidation can be a style and is exceptionally easy to do
Apples and Buicks.
For most wines on the market, fruity notes win a tasting over acetaldehyde burn in the back of the throat (oxidized ethyl alcohol). Yes the reaction can be pushed into sherry type flavor and I am guilty of creating a label for “watermelon sherry” so folks aren’t shocked that it is in the bottle. Marketing apples and buicks
 

Ryan Hubble

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ya, so im still planning to limit oxygen as much as possible. but being a noob, and diving in head first with a 100L barrel, im concerned that i will mess it up. if fortification to 20% and slightly lower PH is what makes madeira able to handle the oxygen, is it reasonable to fortify and acidify my shiraz, so that any shortcommings in my practices wont result in total failure and loss?
 

CDrew

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Why would you do that? You want 100L of 20% wine? Just make normal wine that you'd want to drink. Winemakers have managed to make decent unfortified wine for hundreds if not thousands of years, without adding extra alcohol so you can too.

If you're really worried, skip the barrel the first time. Use glass, stainless or HDPE for storage which are all easier to sanitize, much better at limiting oxygen exposure, and require less overall care. Test and sulfite every 3-4 months and bottle when you're ready.
 

Johnd

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ya, so im still planning to limit oxygen as much as possible. but being a noob, and diving in head first with a 100L barrel, im concerned that i will mess it up. if fortification to 20% and slightly lower PH is what makes madeira able to handle the oxygen, is it reasonable to fortify and acidify my shiraz, so that any shortcommings in my practices wont result in total failure and loss?
I agree with @CDrew , don't change your wine style just because you are concerned about managing your wine in a barrel, it's just not that difficult, most of your time will be spent doing nothing. I'm assuming you don't have the ability to test your sulfite levels. Sulfite your wine @ the rate of 1/4 tsp per 6 gallons, load it into the barrel full to the tippy top, insert the bung, and don't open it again for a week. After the first week, open it, top it up, close it. Two weeks later, do the same thing. Thereafter, add 1/8 tsp per 6 gallons every month, topping at the same time, til you have the level of oak you desire.

Folks have been aging wine in oak barrels for centuries, with a lot less tools at their disposal than you have. I've skipped sulfite additions for months at a time with no ill effect, though I'm not advocating that you do so, I'm just trying to keep my sulfite additions to minimum. Wine is a very inhospitable environment for organisms to grow and thrive, and if you maintain some sulfite and limit air space, you've done a lot to further that environment.
 

Rice_Guy

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Red wine/ red grape juice has a large slug of antioxidants. It was possible to make a good red 150 years ago before we had pH meters, DO meters, vacuum pumps, etc etc. it is tolerant.

Make what you like first
ya, so im still planning to limit oxygen as much as possible. but being a noob, and diving in head first with a 100L barrel, im concerned that i will mess it up. if fortification to 20% and slightly lower PH is what makes madeira able to handle the oxygen, is it reasonable to fortify and acidify my shiraz, so that any shortcommings in my practices wont result in total failure and loss?
 

Ryan Hubble

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if i were to open the barrel on a weekly basis and top it up, is there any reason i cant bottle up a weeks worth of drinking from the spigot before i top it back up each week?
 

Johnd

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if i were to open the barrel on a weekly basis and top it up, is there any reason i cant bottle up a weeks worth of drinking from the spigot before i top it back up each week?
You shouldn't be opening your barrel weekly. It's only in the very beginning that you top up after a week, the new barrel will absorb a fair amount of wine initially, that's why I suggested that you do that at the 1 week mark, the 3 week mark, and then only MONTHLY. To be honest, I'm not sure what the effects would be if you fill a bunch of bottles from the spigot every week and then fill it back up, but it doesn't seem that you'd be taking advantage of the qualities that a barrel provides to a wine, which take time to develop.
 

Ryan Hubble

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pullin a few bottles off per week, most of the wine continues to age, and eventually i will end up with a blend, some of which has been in there for years.
like a one-barrel solera system. plus i need somethin to drink, and would rather enjoy a slowly improving blend than drink unaged until the barrel is ready, then aged until its gone, then back to unaged. i understand this will never result in a barrel full of perfectly aged wine, but it also avoids drinking completely unaged wine. it also introduces a bit of new potassium metabisulphite on a regular basis, and the wine kits are made with a small packed added at the end of the process.

im just concerned if this type of use will have detrimental effects on the spigot. how many times can they be opened and closed before they are worn out and start to leak? will they rot up between uses if not removed and thuroughly cleaned?
 

CDrew

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No offense intended, but your plan is not sound. A few bottles per week just means that all of the wine in the barrel will be constantly exposed to too much oxygen. It's not about the spigot or anything else, it just isn't sound practice. You would be better off aging in much smaller vessels, and drinking one of them leaving the others undisturbed. And what will you use to top up? And if you take out 2 bottles per week, theoretically in a year none of your original wine will be left in the barrel. Most of the wine will be top off wine. Sounds like a pointless exercise to me.

If you just want to drink some inexpensive wine while your barrel matures, Carlo Rossi will be your friend.

And are we talking wine kits or what's the source of your 100L of wine?

I just don't think you will be happy with your final product with your proposed method.
 

Ryan Hubble

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CDrew, no offense is taken. I'm here to learn and exchange ideas. Pointing out flaws in my thinking is definitely welcome.

Are you thinking the wine will cycle on a first in first out basis? I assumed it would mix up and always be a blend of everything that ever went in it.

And yes it's wine kits. I've never been a wine drinker before so if it's not great I won't even know any better. I just wanted to make some cheap booze and thought the barrels were cool.

So opening it weekly will ruin my wine eh? Hmm.... even if it's opened, bottled from, and topped back up all right quick?

Don't I need to open it to taste it and add sulphur periodically anyway?

Oh and it would be topped up with the exact same wine that's in there.
 

Rice_Guy

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the general wisdom is keep oxygen out, yes the Solera style exists, this has some oxidation built into the style. Do you want to micro oxidize?

Since you are talking 100 liter you could consider a variable capacity tank with added oak cubes or staves for flavor. If I did it, I would use argon or nitrogen to limit exposure to oxygen, UCDavis will go to the extent of having a secondary cover on a variable tank and fill that with gas.
https://winemakermag.com/technique/719-variable-volume-fermenters-techniques?mc_cid=b253753fa2&mc_eid=c8905fbf82. I would trust stainless and plastic valves to hold. There would be some crud that dries in the valve unless you spray it out, however it won’t kill you. Traditional family wine in Italy will use a spigot on a large earthenware (with floating wood and olive oil as a cover).

For smaller volumes you could consider a metalized bag in box system. They are available in a variety of sizes as 6 gallon in case quantity (actually pallet size bags exist which the plant uses for ingredients) to just a couple of 10 or 1.5 liter on Amazon. If you look at BIB you will find the small ones actually hold more than the rating if you modify box shape.
 

winemanden

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So everything I read says oxygen will ruin my wine. All sorts of spoilage faults will occur.

But then there's madeira wine purposely oxygened right out and lasts forever.

Is it merely the fortification and acid that makes it able to handle this? Or is there more to the story?

Whatever they do, I'd like to do to my shiraz
What is Madeira Wine?
Madeira is a fortified wine available in a range of dry to sweet styles. It gets its name from the island of Madeira, a small, beautiful rock in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Madeira’s unique taste comes from repeatedly heating the wine. The heating creates a wine with fascinating flavors of roasted nuts, stewed fruit, caramel, and toffee.

The Taste of Madeira: There are several tastes profiles but most will have flavors of Caramel, Walnut Oil, Peach, Hazelnut, Orange Peel, and Burnt Sugar.

When to Drink Madeira: Dry styles of Madeira (such as Sercial and Verdelho) are served chilled with starter courses and sweeter styles are served as after-dinner-sippers like a fine Cognac.

Madeira is a white wine, fortified and heat treated.
 

Bts

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"being a noob, and diving in head first with a 100L barrel, im concerned that i will mess it up"....I'd say you should be kind of concerned with just this much. Barrel aging is kind of looking for trouble if you don't have a couple batches under your belt. Adding an experimental fortification and solera system for what _sounds_ like your first batch is asking for trouble. I'd strongly recommend any noob start by doing a few kits in carboys first. If you want "barrel flavor", get kits with oak or buy a pack of cubes. Cheap and easy. Most decent kits are actually pretty good even _way_ young, and they're pretty foolproof and let you get a solid feel for the process. Sure most get better with age, but a kit gamay 5 weeks off the fedex truck is pretty much my dad's all time favorite wine, so don't discount young kits till you try them. I say this having recently thrown 2.5 cases of my first round of juice buckets into the dumpster. It hurt. But it would have hurt a lot more if it had been 10 cases plus a ruined barrel. Or if I didn't have another 15 cases of 10 different varieties that I've been happily drinking while waiting to see if a year or two brought that one bucket round. I've done some pretty experimental batches in the intervening time, so I'm hardly saying don't experiment, but maybe a 3 or 6 gal carboy is a better experiment size?

Are you a big madeira fan who really likes that oxidized flavor? If so maybe try oxidizing a commercial bottle of shiraz plus a few shots of vodka so see if you like the results, 'cause I'm pretty sure oxidized shiraz tastes nothing like madeira. If oxidized shiraz isn't your goal, then to reliably get non-oxidized wine, you need to sulfite _every_ time you open the container after fermentation is complete(wine dissolves oxygen in minutes but takes days to react with it, while sulfite reacts/destroys dissolved oxygen in hours). The legal limit for sulfite in commercial wine is 350 mg/l. Doesn't apply to us, and it's probably a super conservative limit, but in excess it'll still give your wine the aroma of burnt matchsticks, so you can't just go crazy with it. If you want non-oxidized wine you can drink whenever, it's _way_ easier to just bottle it.
 
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Ignoble Grape

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Fascinating thread. "Solera" caught my attention. Agree with the advice to start small, follow the directions, and not worry about barrels. I'm 4 years into things, and just now feeling comfortable with adjusting recipes and experimentation. The more you make, the more you learn. I think I'll have access to Grenache this year, which isn't my favorite grape varietal. I'll make some straight up Grenache, but I also want to experiment with Banyul, which sounds like a preferred use for Grenache.

Welcome to the board!
 

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