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Q on aging - how long & how do you know?

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wildhair

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I got the first batches of wine in the bottle and I am recalling the various recipes and the comments on aging. Some say root wines need at least year, 2 is better, some wines like the Dragon's Blood and Skeeter Pee are suppose to be good to drink right away. A rhubarb recipe from Jack Keller says the wine doesn't need again, another rhubarb recipe says age 6 months. Some recipes say you should drink it young -- and on & on - so -
How do I know how long to age a particular wine? I don't want to give it to someone before it's ready and have it not taste right. I made some mint wine and it's pretty good right now. Is there a general rule of thumb or a secret method of determining how long to let it sit quietly in it's cubby-hole? An industry aging standard? Or do I just open a bottle periodically and see how it is? :ib
 

Ajmassa

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If 10 people respond you might get 10 different answers. And each batch is different (even if it's the same) As a fellow winemaker who has more questions than answers, I'd go with your last question there, and periodically open bottles to check along the way (and taking notes so you know how/when).
This is the #1 reason I do not bottle age until deemed worthy of drinking, knowing it's good and only getting better. (Also the#1 reason to gear up for lack of open vessels). Corked young your just crossing your fingers. But in the carboy you have the option to taste and adjust.
Some of my batches developed quickly and I felt comfortable bottling at maybe 4-5 months. Others took every bit of 12+ months.
 

Johny99

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As AJ says, each batch is an individual. I find wine follows a curve over time. Bottle when you like it, let others have it. But, track how it changes over time. That will tell you when, in your taste, you need to finish drinking it all. It is the rule of taste not thumb.
 

NorCal

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Like most answers in poker and wine making, the answer is it depends. The bigger the wine the more it takes to come into its own. A white 6 months a cab a few years.
 

pip

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My berry wines barely have the chance to get acquainted with the bottle before i'm knocking them back. 1 month from start to finish/drink for them. But...yeah some grape wines need aging obviously and i think the idea of opening a bottle every now and then for a test is quite a pleasant way of deciding. Only thing i'd add, if you do this, have a few people over to try it as well and get some other opinions, maybe? I've found its generally pretty easy to find volunteers for that.
 

wildhair

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Well, the responses are about what I guessed they'd be - no hard-and-fast rule. Let me take a different tack. Does the alcohol % make any difference? Does a higher alcohol content wine take longer to mellow or smoothen than a lower % wine? Do some fruits or certain flavors take longer to develop than others?
 

Stevelaz

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You can also bottle some in 375 half bottles. This way you can try some without waisting a whole bottle. I just bottled 50 375s for my own consumption. This way when I come home from work and just want a glass or 2 I don't have half a bottle sitting on counter.
 

Floandgary

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The key phrase is this ,,,,,, "Wine WILL Change with time". Another key phrase is " You need be concerned only with YOUR taste buds"! Proceed with those two in mind!!!
 

Noontime

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We've come to the conclusion that all our wines taste much better after about a year. That's about the time we start hitting them regularly and are OK giving as gifts. We've had many wines that were drinkable before that, and some wines take a few years to really reach their prime, but a year is about where they become "integrated" and smooth out. They get better with age for a few years, and then start going down hill. It seems like what you're really asking is when does it START getting good. It's important to remember that wine is always aging and maturing, and the same wine a few months later may taste very different depending where it is on that arc. The conditions your wine is stored will have a huge affect on it's development... we live in S. Florida and it is always hot, so our wines develop faster and don't last more than 5 years usually. If your storing them in better conditions, dark cold celler for instance, it could take a year or 2 for it to "mature" into it's potential. And yes, alcohol content, tannins, acidity, residual sugar all play a big part in how long it takes to integrate.
 
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jburtner

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This is a good question and I am interested in how kits stand up against commercial wines with regard to ageing.

Most red's that I buy and drink now in 2017 are probably 3 years old youngest and maybe average 5 year. NEw world Cabs Zins Pinot's. Old world maybe a bit older on average. Whites are probably in the two hear range.

I have some kits (reds) now in the 1yr range and don't feel like they are ready. I hear people saying that after three years they start to go downhill?

Is this true? I would guess that 3-10yrs would be "optimal" for reds - depending of course and less for whites.

How different is kit ageing from ageing wines made with grapes? Why?

Cheers!
-johann
 

Noontime

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The chemistry is beyond me, but "ageing" is basically some compounds in the wine breaking down and others combining to make new ones. So the more "stuff" there is the more likely it's appropriate to age well. That's why big reds and chardonnay work best, because they have more complexity to begin with. A light white wine doesn't have a whole lot of stuff to evolve into better/more interesting compounds, but a big red with a lot of tannins and acidity will smooth out over time. And temperature will either slow down that process or speed it up. And preparing for the aging is important too, making sure it is sulfited properly to be able to handle 10 years in the bottle. Most wines that are destined to be great wines in 10 years don't taste good at 3 or 5...it has to mature into it.

EDIT: I forgot to comment on kits... since kits have a fairly high ratio of concentrate and not a whole lot of stuff coming from oak and skins, I don't think they have a lot of potential for really long ageing. But again, the environment will have a huge impact on that. We store our wines in the worst conditions possible (almost), and we still get 4 to 5 good years of drinking out of them. We have a Cabernet Sauvignon from a high end kit, cold soaked for days on skins, added a bunch of toasted French oak to fermentation and bulk aging; it was not good at all the first 2 years (WAY too much oak). But it became amazingly delicious after 3 years and became integrated. It's over 5 years old now and just starting to show signs of going down hill (not a big deal since we only have 4 left anyway). But again, we're storing at 78 to 80 degrees all year long.
 
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Scooter68

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What I also find interesting is that I read at least one or two articles on wine, not winemaking site, that suggested that more and more store bought wines are made with the expectation of being consumed in a few months from delivery. That would suggest that something edgy is being done to create a 'mature' ready to drink wine that may in fact NOT keep well in your wine cellar at home. Hmmm, what could they be cutting out or cutting down to produce that situation?
 

Floandgary

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What I also find interesting is that I read at least one or two articles on wine, not winemaking site, that suggested that more and more store bought wines are made with the expectation of being consumed in a few months from delivery. That would suggest that something edgy is being done to create a 'mature' ready to drink wine that may in fact NOT keep well in your wine cellar at home. Hmmm, what could they be cutting out or cutting down to produce that situation?
Consider ,,, We are no longer in Medieval times with 100 gallon oaken tuns covered in cobwebs!!! Stainless Steel and fast acting Chemistry have moved to the forefront to satisfy modern day business models and consumerism. How can it be that your latte can taste like coconut or peppermint without ever having been within 1,000 miles of the real thing??? Observe the readings here ,,,, Most are happily sampling the fruits of their hobby within a year or so!!!! "HOW DO THEY DO IT?" Great program:h
 

Noontime

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What I also find interesting is that I read at least one or two articles on wine, not winemaking site, that suggested that more and more store bought wines are made with the expectation of being consumed in a few months from delivery. That would suggest that something edgy is being done to create a 'mature' ready to drink wine that may in fact NOT keep well in your wine cellar at home. Hmmm, what could they be cutting out or cutting down to produce that situation?
They're not cutting anything out or doing any nefarious... they're just deliberately crafting a wine that is intended to be consumed in the short term, between 2 to 5 years. There is no wine that tasted great at 15 years old that also tasted great at 2 years old, those are 2 completely different kinds of wines. It should be looked at from the other direction... most wines are bought and consumed within a very short period of time. So winemakers create wines that people can enjoy when they buy them, and not have to store for a long time to become drinkable. It should also be noted that most commercial wines on the shelf are a year old before they get there; the winery will store the wine until it is appropriate to drink.

It is absolutely true that most wines are not meant to be aged, but meant to be enjoyed in the near future.
 
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