Preserving vs Aging Wine

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ranman

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I'm relatively new to wine making - about 50 gallons so far. All of my wine making has been done with kits and consumed within the typical 6-18 months.

I'm looking to create 2 - 6 gallon batches twice per year which are to be kept for 20-50 years or more. The idea is to make a few kits for the present and 2 for the far future. If I do this for 10 years, this will give me 600 bottles, which would make a substantial cellar!

My understanding is that with a good quality juice kit (red), aging takes from 6 months to up to 20 years (Nebbiolo for example). I'm looking to consume 50 years after bottling and cannot find any advice for preserving wine for that long of time.

1. If my Nebbiolo can take 20 years to age, how do I get another 30 out of it?

2. How can I get 50 years out of a lower tannin wine like a pinot noir?

I would prefer just prepare the kit according to the instructions and not get into PH/Acid testing and adjusting.
 

tradowsk

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You will need a really good quality cork. As an example, Nomacorks are synthetic and are designed based on the desired aging length. You want to limit the amount of oxygen transferred through the cork so the wine doesn't oxidize.

You will also need to bump up the oak and tannin in the wine, since both of those degrade over time. One of the reasons some barolos aren't drinkable for 20 years is the high initial tannin level from the stems/seeds in the must. A good dose of kmeta would also be in order. And cold stabilization would be a good idea too so the bottle won't be full of tartaric crystals.

But just be aware that older doesn't mean better. Aging will bring out earthy flavors and decrease fruit flavors. Usually you want a balance of the two, so letting the wine age too long would be counterproductive. Particularly for a pinot noir, those typically aren't aged all that long since they are more of a fruit-forward red.

I would do some research on which varietals can take that much age and use those for your long aging batches. You'll probably want to use kits with skins too so there's more flavor and complexity to develop.
 

CDrew

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Norma cork Riserva corks are said to be rated for 25 years. And they come in all sorts of recommended aging lengths. THey publish the O2 ingress rates on their website. The Normacorc green 300 are easy to use rated for 15 years and I anticipate they will prove highly satisfactory. I'll let you know in a few years!

But just be aware that older doesn't mean better. Aging will bring out earthy flavors and decrease fruit flavors. Usually you want a balance of the two, so letting the wine age too long would be counterproductive. Particularly for a pinot noir, those typically aren't aged all that long since they are more of a fruit-forward red.
Absolutely right. Many great wines peak well before 20 years and very very few will even be drinkable in 40 years. There are a few rare examples but they don't come from kits.

But be serious here. You are not going to age kit wines for 20-50 years. Too many things will happen over that time frame. Moves, floods, divorces, illness, loss of interest etc. And if you're older than 30, you likely won't be around to drink a 50 year sample. Kits aren't made for super extended time frames. And you want to make them according to the kit instructions without adjustments. I'm thinking this is not a recipe for success.

But I do think you're on the right track to make wine to drink and wine to age. Maybe just a less ambitious time scale. For instance you drink some as you go and finish them up by 5 years plus or minus a few.
 

crushday

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@ranman - love the ambition. But, I'm with @CDrew, 20 years contains many opportunities for change. 50 years? Wow... The average person moves 11.7 times in their lifetime. Moving is only one example of life change.

But, to answer your question, CDrew mentioned Reserva corks from Nomacorc, which are rated for 25 years. You could feasibly pull and install a new cork at the 20-25 year mark. Doing it quickly would mitigate the oxygen exposure of the wine. I'm actually in the process of doing this now with Reserva corks on 5-8 bottles from each kit I have made for long term cellaring (5-10 years). Most of my first kits have agglomerated cork, rated 2-5 years - not long enough. About half of my cellar has duo disks installed, rated for 10+ years.

I started my first wine (WE Merlot) on December 28th, 2016. Since then, I've made nearly 100 kits. In January 2020, I'll cross the hundy mark. A few days ago, I pulled out a Pinot Noir from Winexpert in the Eclipse series. I was amazed at how good it tasted. It's been 34 months. Since that kit was the 4th in my series I have been tasting it all along. However, I haven't had any since mid summer and the last time we planked some grilled salmon for dinner. A serious change occurred in the last 4-5 months. It's fantastic now and I suspect will get even better for the next couple of years.

All that to say, keep us posted on your cellar. Sounds very interesting.
 

NorCal

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I would think all your aging elements would have to be on point.

pH, alcohol, tannin, SO2, enclosure

I would use the longest rated cork and plan on changing it out before it hits that date. It’s a great target, and try a bottle every year, you’ll know if it starts turning.
 

DoctorCAD

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Look up wine aging potential charts. You will see that even highly rated wines do not last anywhere near 50 years. Even some of the better French wines are past prime at 25 years.

You are making wine from unknown varietals that are blended to get a flavor profile in a short time, not over 50 years. I have a few 10 year old kits that are great, but most drop off after just a few years.
 

Rice_Guy

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Wine is a food preservation system. If I am putting food on a grocery store the general plan is two years. , , why aim for 50?
Oxidation is your big issue. Oxidation has more compounds that are reactive in a finished reduced oxidation potential wine, , therefore your best quality would probably come if you froze the must for 48 years and then made the finished wine, , which has a couple years shelf life.

Good luck on the project.
 

ranman

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Yes, the "why" part is a bit mind blowing for wine makers. The "how" is the difficult problem to solve.

There are many articles about really old wine tasting great. Buyers pay thousands of dollars for a single bottle at auction, hundreds of years old.
https://www.quora.com/What-does-wine-aged-over-100-years-taste-like
https://www.insidehook.com/article/food-and-drink/is-centuries-old-wine-still-drinkable

With all the science, technology tools (synthetic corks, PH/acidic monitors), and preservatives available to us today, why can't we figure out how to age really old wine? This really flies in the opposite direction of our "now" society; with instant movies, instant meals, and instant communication (text messaging)- just to name a few.

This is what I have determined so far:
1. Use a high tannin grape - in this case I have chosen a Nebbiolo which will give me a good portion of the time - 20 years. Granted, this comes from a kit, so the timeline may be reduced. If I can wait to open the first bottle at 20 years, with the idea that there is minimal risk that it turned into vinegar or something undrinkable, then I have the option of drinking one bottle a year after or having to drink it all on a shorter timeline.
2. Defend against oxidization - Using a high quality cork is one step. Replacement of the cork is a good idea. Has anyone tried to vacuum seal a bottle of wine to help prevent oxygen from getting into the bottle? Is it worth trying a air-proof seal over the cork? I'm also going to flush the filled bottle neck with argon at bottling, to help minimize early oxidization.

Wine making has been going on for thousands of years. Old bottles, hundreds of years old, are found to be in drinkable condition with nothing special being done to prepare the wine for such long-term storage. There must be a way to do it.
 

bshef

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I say it sounds like something to play with. If you get a chance read Steven Casscles book “Grapes of the Hudson Valley”. He discusses aging Baco Noir and Chambourcin for 20 to 30 years. You can buy Baco Noir and Chambourcin juice from Double A Vineyards. I think a member got some this year. I’m thinking of some Maréchal Foch and Baco while I wait for my vines to mature.
 

Rice_Guy

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There is a March 15, 2019 post by vacuumpumpman titled “vacuum wine corker” about a build , ,
sorry, haven’t figured out how to copy a link to it with this iPad but it should search with title
. . . . Has anyone tried to vacuum seal a bottle of wine to help prevent oxygen from getting into the bottle? Is it worth trying a air-proof seal over the cork? I'm also going to flush the filled bottle neck with argon at bottling, to help minimize early oxidization. . . . .Wine making has been going on for thousands of years.
 

stickman

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@ranman it seems like you keep indicating that nobody knows how to make wine for long term aging. I think how to do it is fairly well known, but most commercial wine operations have no desire to make wine for 50 years of aging. There are plenty of wineries making high end wines for collectors, but the market is fairly small for this type of wine. I have 7 magnums of Cabernet in the cellar I made in 1996, I had no idea what I was doing, I had a couple of wine making books, no forum like this, the grapes were from the central valley in lugs, no TA, no pH, no so2 testing, the only measurement was brix and it was high, no notes on this batch, it ended up high alcohol with a slight bitterness, I didn't like it at the time so I put it on the shelf and moved on, today the wine is still in very good shape, still high alcohol, but it is not brown oxidized vinegar etc., the corks were solid natural, but nothing special. I'm sure that I need to re-cork if I want to keep it longer, but the point is, it can be done, though the aging isn't making it any better.

Here's a clip I found about Mouton Rothschild

CHATEAU MOUTON-ROTHSCHILD
Mouton still uses entirely traditional methods of winemaking. Only wood fermentation vats are used. (No stainless steel.) The wooden vats, made in Cognac, have a capacity of about 6000 gallons. They are replaced every 35-40 years. The fermentation temperature is maintained below 32C by circulating the fermenting wine out of vat and through cold water heat exchangers and back into the vat. Free run wine is kept separate from press runs. Press run wine is added if the free run needs tannins. The great cellar (ground level) is 100 by 25 meters and holds 1000 new oak barrels. New wine spends six months in this cellar and is then moved to the underground cellar. Mouton uses 100% new oak each year. The barrels are topped up every two days to replace evaporated wine and racked every three months. Fining is done in the barrel with egg whites and a small amount of water. During the first six months, before the barrels are moved underground, a loose-fitting glass stopper (bung) is used to provide easy topping up and escape of residual gases. When the barrels are moved to the cool (12-15 C) underground cellar, the glass bung is replaced with a linen wrapped wood bung for a tight fit. The relative humidity in the underground cellar is 80-90%, reducing the rate of evaporation of wine from barrel. No labels are affixed to bottles in cellar because the mold, due to high humidity, will destroy the label. Bottles in Phillipines private cellar are recorked and topped up every 25 years. Stored in a special cellar are twenty-four 750 mL bottles, six magnums and six jeroboams of each vintage since 1859. These wines are also recorked and topped up every 25 years. They are saved for historical reasons and not for drinking.
 

Chuck E

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I have two bottles of German Eiswein that I have been hanging onto forever. One 1975 and one 1978. I also have some 1980's Austrian wines. Every now and again I try one of the Austrians. It's like golden syrup. They taste fine, but not as good as they did 15-20 years ago.
 

1d10t

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It seems the consensus is to make a wine and start drinking it after proper aging. If it keeps improving, sample it less often. If it stops improving, drink it before it goes down hill. The basic premise that us new winemakers should start out with the goal of making age worthy wines is a tad misguided. First learn to make a good wine and you aren't going to do that if your first sampling is decades off.
 

wood1954

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I would prefer to make a good wine that's drinkable in 1-2 years. I don't think I can make a great wine from Wisconsin grapes, plus I drink too (3-4 bottles a week) much to set aside good drinkable wine for years. also in 50 years your sense of smell and taste won't be as sensitive as they are now. I'm 65 now and everything is somewhat less sharp than when I was thirty.
 

tradowsk

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You could also use a different type of enclosure than a cork, one that is impermeable to oxygen. Similar to bulk aging with an airlock, the wine will age differently (without O2) but it also won't have oxidation issues in the long run.
 

sour_grapes

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It seems the consensus is to make a wine and start drinking it after proper aging. If it keeps improving, sample it less often. If it stops improving, drink it before it goes down hill.
Early on, this notion was expressed to me this way: Sample a bottle from your batch, and give it your best estimate of how long you think the batch will last under aging. Then, divide that time period up by the number of bottles you have left. Drink another bottle after that smaller time elapses. Then, make a new estimate of how long it will last, and repeat until batch is gone.

It seemed a little silly to me at first: How the heck do I know in advance how long it will last? It doesn't matter -- the process is self-correcting.
 

Steve Wargo

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A wine that can be properly aged, beyond 5 years, begins its journey in the vineyard. One must use the proper grape under the right growing conditions. There are only a few vintages chosen for long-term aging by professional winemakers. Now that said, some wines require a few years of age to soften the high tannin levels created by the grape. That does not make the wine better, it makes it drinkable.

Women are to be loved. Wine is to drink. Don't get the two mixed up.
 

ranman

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All great discussion points. I'm looking at creating a few cases as a wedding gift, so the bride and groom can open one every anniversary. In this particular case, opening a bottle every anniversary is the primary goal and drinkable a close 2nd. It's not about drinking at the optimal time. Its about making it last as long as possible without turning into vinegar. :)
 

sour_grapes

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Early on, this notion was expressed to me this way: Sample a bottle from your batch, and give it your best estimate of how long you think the batch will last under aging. Then, divide that time period up by the number of bottles you have left.
All great discussion points. I'm looking at creating a few cases as a wedding gift, so the bride and groom can open one every anniversary. In this particular case, opening a bottle every anniversary is the primary goal and drinkable a close 2nd. It's not about drinking at the optimal time. Its about making it last as long as possible without turning into vinegar. :)
Okay, let me amend my original advice: Open a bottle and give your best estimate of how long the MARRIAGE will last. Then divide that time period by the number of bottles left! :D
 

DoctorCAD

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All great discussion points. I'm looking at creating a few cases as a wedding gift, so the bride and groom can open one every anniversary. In this particular case, opening a bottle every anniversary is the primary goal and drinkable a close 2nd. It's not about drinking at the optimal time. Its about making it last as long as possible without turning into vinegar. :)

FYI...wine does not magically "turn into vinegar". It may become oxidized or lose flavors, but making vinegar is a unique process that takes skills.
 
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