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Discussion in 'Beginners Wine Making Forum' started by bluedart, Oct 11, 2018.

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  1. Oct 11, 2018 #1

    bluedart

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    I read somewhere that homemade fruit wine (not grape wine) shouldn't be kept longer than a year before being consumed.
    1) So how long will a bottle (or carboy) of homemade wine last?
    2) Does the fruit content affect its longevity?
    2) What happens to the quality of the wine -does it improve indefinitely?
    3) Does the alcohol % have a bearing on how long will it last. I prefer wines no higher than 10%.
    4) Does this topic really concern anyone here? lol
     
  2. Oct 11, 2018 #2

    BernardSmith

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    Speaking only from my own experience I cannot see why country wines should have a shorter shelf life than wines made from grapes. The key factors that limit shelf life are sanitation, oxidation, ABV, and too little acidity. If your protocol in making the wine is good, if your processes for inhibiting oxidation are good, if the amount of alcohol by volume is high enough and if the wine is sufficiently acidic (pH - not the TA) then your country wines should keep for years.
     
  3. Oct 11, 2018 #3

    salcoco

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    I would say that elderberry, blackberry and other tannic fruit would last longer than a year and would also improve. soft fruit like apple. pear etc should be consumed within a year although I have had wine from these fruit taste great after 4 years. folloe the suggestion of the previous poster and you will have fruit wine for quite long time.
     
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  4. Oct 11, 2018 #4

    bluedart

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    I guess only time will tell. If I get 5 bottles of wine out of my gallon I will try one bottle each year to test.
     
  5. Oct 11, 2018 #5

    bluedart

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    Right, thanks.
     
  6. Oct 11, 2018 #6

    Scooter68

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    I heard similar things early on but in reality... If properly fermented and protected I don't see any problems. I age ALL my fruit wines at least one (1) full year and I don't do grape wines - by choice.

    I have a strawberry, apricot and apple wines that are just turning the corner into the enjoyable realm after 2 years.

    Certainly there may be some that don't age well. I heard that about strawberry and watermelon. Given the reports (On this forum) tendency of watermelon batches to spoil during fermentation I might not try to keep a watermelon very long. One thing I've learned on this forum and through experience - There are some pretty solid practices that should be followed almost all the time - then there are those areas where practices vary and there are no hard fast rules.

    BernardSmith - I think hits it on the head pretty clearly. If you fail to do those things, then problems may arise.

    Basically for personal consumption do what you want - If you give your wine to someone, that's the only time when I might encourage them to consume those wines in the near term. (Strawberry & Watermelon)
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018
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  7. Oct 12, 2018 #7

    meadmaker1

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    You wont get five full bottles from 1 gallon. And if its good youll never reach 5 yrs.
    You will loose volume when you rack off of lees.
    And a 1 gallon batch that is successful i tough to get aged past 6 months. Lol.
    But if you made a five gallon batch and thought some recipe you found was all you need to make a good wine that will age well, you will likely discover that there is more to it.
    That more is what can be discovered here.
     
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  8. Oct 12, 2018 #8

    Scooter68

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    Ref Meadmaker1 comment - "You won't get five full bottles from 1 Gallon"
    In part he's correct unless you back-sweeten the wine - 1 gallon is a stretch to get 5 standard wine bottles but you can't spill or leave anything behind in the carboy.

    As to the lees - I ferment in a 2 gallon bucket for my 1 gallon batches and always increase starting volume to allow for expected lees AND for the 'watering down' of topping off.
    1)With most fruit I start with somewhere between 1 1/4 gallon up to 1 1/2 gallon if I know there will be a lot of lees.
    2)You also have to increase your lbs of fruit accordingly - just plan ahead and don't wing it. If you normally would use 6 lbs of fruit for 1 gallon - bump that to 8-9 lbs/gal
    3)IF you aim a little higher on the ABV and increase the quantity of fruit to plan for topping off - you don't have to run out and buy a bottle of a similar wine. Aim for 13-14 % and you will be in a safe and solid 10% plus even with lees lost and reasonable watering down.
    4) With careful work you can save some of the lees from the first racking for a day or two in a small glass bottle in the fridge. As soon as possible pull of the cleared liquid from that chilled container. Don't wait too long - normally a day or two is all you need to see enough clearing to get perhaps as much as 12-16 oz of liquid. Then put that in a smaller container with an air lock and rack it just you would the 4liter / 1gallon carboy.

    BUT IF if you use 4 liter carboys instead of 1 gallon carboys - you can probably fill 5 bottles and have that 'first glass' of wine from the leftover.
    A 4 liter container is about 7 ozs more than a gallon will easily fill 5 wine bottles.
    Since I back-sweeten with a simple syrup my volume increases slightly so normally I have no problem filling that 4 liter carboy to the top.

    I get 4 liter carboys free from the recycling center - Carlo Rossi wines and Sangria are sold in 4 liter glass bottles (carboys) vs 1 gallon bottles. I keep my 1 gallon bottles for wine batchs I just cant' stretch another 7 ozs. Normally I have no problem with pushing a 1 gallon batch enough to get to 4 liters. That stretch isn't going to water down your wine if you are using plenty of fruit per gallon.

    This process may not be for everyone - some folks can't abide using any water after fermentation finishes. For me with proper planning the wine turns out great. You just have to take into account those losses when planing that batch.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2018
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  9. Oct 12, 2018 #9

    bluedart

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  10. Oct 12, 2018 #10

    bluedart

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    Thanks for this informative post. I have learned much from your suggestions.
     
  11. Oct 13, 2018 #11

    meadmaker1

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    Lol scooter forgot to account for tasting.
    He is correct about using various sizes of containers to end up with a certain finished amount.
     
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  12. Oct 14, 2018 #12

    winemaker81

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    Alcohol, acid, and tannin directly affect shelf life. I suspect grape wines may have a longer shelf life as they naturally have the constituents that promote long life, but also note that 90% of the world's wine production is designed for consumption within 3 years.

    I made an apple wine a few years ago that fine at the 4 year mark. I'd have tested if it had a longer shelf life ... but I ran out of it ...
     
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  13. Oct 14, 2018 #13

    Scooter68

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    I believe that commercial wines are more finely tuned with just what you mentioned in mind. Customer buys, customer consumes - customer doesn't often keep wine around for a long time - at least not the lower priced wines. So a shelf life of 3 years would be more than adequate.

    That's just my ASSumption and I know that means.

    Well anyway, Mass produced wines vs the more select/premium wines I would bet that there are some differences in their methods.
    Surely someone from the commercial side can respond with accurate info.
     
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  14. Oct 14, 2018 #14

    winemaker81

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    This topic is far more convoluted than it appears from first glance.

    I agree with Scooter's point about the industry targeting what consumers want.

    Think about it -- how many people (all people, not just winemakers) want to wait 5 years (or even 10) to drink a wine? Even the folks that drink Bordeaux and Burgundy on any regular basis are not waiting -- they buy when they want from someone else who has done the waiting for them. And that 3rd party isn't waiting for themselves, they're in a business proposition.

    Very few people I know are seriously interested in aged wine. They buy a bottle, looking at the label (either for the brand or because it's pretty), without considering year or other factors. They want a bottle for dinner and pick one out.

    But that's separate from the fact that alcohol, acid, tannin directly affect a wine's aging potential. I contend that the fruit (which includes the variety, climate, soil, etc) is the bigger factor in a wine's aging potential. This doesn't conflict with the idea that grapes that produce faster maturing wines are grown more heavily as that supports the market.

    Hmmmm .... I think we've diverged quite well from the OP's questions, haven't we? :slp
     
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  15. Oct 14, 2018 #15

    winemaker81

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    OK, back to the OP's questions:

    1) So how long will a bottle (or carboy) of homemade wine last?
    FAR too many unknown factors to provide a real answer. Let's say, 1 to 20 years, depending.

    2) Does the fruit content affect its longevity?
    Not sure what this means. Please clarify.

    2) What happens to the quality of the wine -does it improve indefinitely?
    Nope. Each wine has a lifespan in which it ages towards its peak then declines. If you have a bottle of 2000 Beaujolais Nouveau that you've been saving for that special occasion? I beg you, keep it as a decoration, do not open it!

    3) Does the alcohol % have a bearing on how long will it last. I prefer wines no higher than 10%.
    Absolutely. In my experience, wines with less than 10% alcohol typically have a shorter shelf life, especially if they are low in acid and tannin.

    4) Does this topic really concern anyone here? lol
    From all the answers, I have to say "yes"!
     
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  16. Oct 14, 2018 #16

    Scooter68

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    Not that long ago I opened a bottle we had been given - perhaps 3 years ago. It was supposed to be a blush zin I think. Tasted like plum wine but it was brown, Taste wasn't bad but clearly oxidation had done a number on it. Fortunately we weren't serving to anyone.
     
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  17. Oct 15, 2018 #17

    bluedart

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    Sorry for the confusion- I meant eg. grapes as apposed to berries.
     
  18. Oct 15, 2018 #18

    meadmaker1

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    What confusion
    Rotf
    Those are as clear and direct as answers get.
    Consider the wine type.
    Each fruit will have its own tendency, research each type individually.
     
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  19. Oct 15, 2018 #19

    bluedart

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    OK thanks
     
  20. Oct 16, 2018 #20

    winemaker81

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    Bluedart,

    In general, darker red grapes will have longer shelf lives, and typically take longer to mature. Keep in mind that this also depends on wine making technique -- if the fermentation on the skins is shorter, less constituents are leached from the skins and pulp, so the wine will be lighter. This is especially true for blush and rose wines.

    Side note: I'm astounded by the number of people that believe zinfandel is a white grape ...

    Anywho, white grapes typically have shorter shelf lives, but they are typically made from juice and not fermented on the skins. This lifespan can span decades -- as noted previously, high acid and alcohol will affect this.

    Non-grape fruits are similar, but typically have shorter life spans than grape wines. Which is not to say that fruit wines can't have a significant life span. In another thread someone mentioned a spice apple wine that is great at 7 years. Elderberry in particular may have a longer lifespan, although the ones I had that were more than 5 years old were very heavy.

    If you're making fruit wines with alcohol levels lower than 10%, I don't expect you'll get more than a few years out of them -- which probably suits you just fine. Such wines mature faster and may not last longer ... 'cuz you drank it all!
     
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