Ways to tone down caboy aged flavors ( compared to Barrel aged)

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maan

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Hi,

I am new to this this forum and would like to ask a question to the experts and pros here.
Are there proven techniques to mellow down the sharp tones observed in a glass carboy aged red wine ?
I see a noticeable difference between the barrel aged and carboy aged. Have read multiple explanations for why this happens but no solution.
Any thoughts ?
 
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Barrel aging has 2 distinctly different effects. One is oak flavoring, if the barrel is non-neutral, meaning that the barrel is young enough that the inherent oak flavoring has not been used up. Oak flavoring is a limited resource, and by the time a barrel is reaching the end of the 3rd year of use, it's mostly used up and the barrel is considered neutral.

The second effect is that water and alcohol evaporate through the wood, so barrels must be topped up periodically as the liquid level is reduced. This has a concentration effect as the non-water/alcohol constituents become more concentrated. There is also "micro oxidation" where minute quantities of O2 affect the wine in a positive fashion. The evaporation effect does not have a limit -- my barrels are going into their 13th year of use and are just as useful for that as they were when new. I know people with barrels over 20 years old that are just fine.

Oak adjuncts can be added to carboys, stainless steel containers, and neutral barrels to provide oak flavoring. These adjuncts include oak powder, shreds, chips, cubes, spirals, and staves. I prefer cubes as they are relatively consistent in size, and I can fine-tune the amount added, but all the products work.

If you're getting sharp tones in carboy aged wine, you're probably adding too much oak. I've added as much as 2 oz per 5 gallons of red wine, and have dropped that down to no more than 1-1/2 oz, and in some wines go with 1 oz or 1/2 oz. IME oak adjuncts have a lifecycle in how the flavor is imparted AND in how it mellows, and when I add cubes, I leave them in for the duration, which is no less than 3 months, and may be as much as a year.

Adding more oak and taking it out early appears to produce sharper flavors. I work from the POV that it's easier to add more than to take some out, so I go lighter on oak with the understanding that if it's not enough, I can add more. I prefer oak as a seasoning, not a flavoring.

Also take the weight of the wine into consideration. A very heavy red can handle more oak than a lighter one.
 

maan

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Thank you Bryan for the insight.
I recall , last year I had used French Med roast chips for a couple of months. This year I am using cubes of the same type.
Will keep them for more than 3 months this time.
I think the qty is right about what you suggested.
 
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You might want to consider powered tannins for your carboys. There are several out there though unfortunately there are only a few you can buy in small quantities. I think your choices are Complex and Riche Extra. There is also FT Rouge but that is a fermentation tannin. If you can find it, my preference is Tannin Estate.
 

VinesnBines

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You might want to consider powered tannins for your carboys. There are several out there though unfortunately there are only a few you can buy in small quantities. I think your choices are Complex and Riche Extra. There is also FT Rouge but that is a fermentation tannin. If you can find it, my preference is Tannin Estate.
Fred shared some of the Riche Extra and Tannin Estate with me. I must say that the finishing tannins make a big difference. I haven't decided which I like best but it may be the Riche Extra.
 

NorCal

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Barrel aging has 2 distinctly different effects. One is oak flavoring, if the barrel is non-neutral, meaning that the barrel is young enough that the inherent oak flavoring has not been used up. Oak flavoring is a limited resource, and by the time a barrel is reaching the end of the 3rd year of use, it's mostly used up and the barrel is considered neutral.

The second effect is that water and alcohol evaporate through the wood, so barrels must be topped up periodically as the liquid level is reduced. This has a concentration effect as the non-water/alcohol constituents become more concentrated. There is also "micro oxidation" where minute quantities of O2 affect the wine in a positive fashion. The evaporation effect does not have a limit -- my barrels are going into their 13th year of use and are just as useful for that as they were when new. I know people with barrels over 20 years old that are just fine.

Oak adjuncts can be added to carboys, stainless steel containers, and neutral barrels to provide oak flavoring. These adjuncts include oak powder, shreds, chips, cubes, spirals, and staves. I prefer cubes as they are relatively consistent in size, and I can fine-tune the amount added, but all the products work.

If you're getting sharp tones in carboy aged wine, you're probably adding too much oak. I've added as much as 2 oz per 5 gallons of red wine, and have dropped that down to no more than 1-1/2 oz, and in some wines go with 1 oz or 1/2 oz. IME oak adjuncts have a lifecycle in how the flavor is imparted AND in how it mellows, and when I add cubes, I leave them in for the duration, which is no less than 3 months, and may be as much as a year.

Adding more oak and taking it out early appears to produce sharper flavors. I work from the POV that it's easier to add more than to take some out, so I go lighter on oak with the understanding that if it's not enough, I can add more. I prefer oak as a seasoning, not a flavoring.

Also take the weight of the wine into consideration. A very heavy red can handle more oak than a lighter one.
What an awesome answer. Nicely done. Nothing to add.
 

Jusatele

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that is a good answer
I also use plastic carboys and plastic fermentation chambers
some people use Stainless steel
my best friend has always been oak chips

buy some 1 gallon bottles and try different methods side by side. use the same batch of wine in each. keep good notes.

and most important. post back with your results
 
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buy some 1 gallon bottles and try different methods side by side. use the same batch of wine in each. keep good notes.
If in the USA, Walmart sells Carlo Rossi wine in 4 liter jugs, locally for ~$17 USD. It's plonk, and is in no way outstanding, but it makes good cooking wine. I buy the "burgundy" and "chablis" and decant into five 750 ml and one 375 ml screwcap bottles. Brand new gallon jugs typically cost $10 + tax + S&H, so the Carlo Rossi is a good deal.

and most important. post back with your results
I learn something new each week on this forum -- posting results, good and bad, helps everyone.
 
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Big shout out to @mainshipfred for sharing his finishing tannins with me. I started a thread a while back on this subject. You mention the wine is sharp, could you be more specific about the flavor? Bitter? tart?

I am a fan of the finishing tannins too and I am trying different ones. Tannin Riche improved some rather simple wine I made in 2020. The bench trials went well and I liked the result. Now my wine is a little too tannic and will need to rest. So, it is possible to overdo the finishing tannins and not know it until a few months later.

What causes my wine to be bitter?
 
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I am a fan of the finishing tannins too and I am trying different ones. Tannin Riche improved some rather simple wine I made in 2020. The bench trials went well and I liked the result. Now my wine is a little too tannic and will need to rest. So, it is possible to overdo the finishing tannins and not know it until a few months later.
I haven't experimented in this direction, yet. I'm comfortable with using oak cubes during bulk aging and produce a result I like. I'm more likely to experiment with carboy sized amounts, especially 3 US gallon. Gotta think about this.
 
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