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What was your biggest 'ah ha moment' to help you make better wine?

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sour_grapes

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When opening a red, I pour a splash in a glass, insert the aerator and pour a splash in a second glass -- then I compare.
So I did this last night to a young commercial Zin. My wife blind-taste-tested, and easily picked the aerated one. (I agreed it was better.) Thanks again.
 

Rice_Guy

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? ? however if I am using bitter sweet crab apple for tannin it should help
For a traditional white (fermented from juice) aeration doesn't seem to make any difference, not enough tannin. . . . I wouldn't expect aeration to make a difference in a fruit wine ... but it's worth trying. Nothing ventured, nothing gained!
again interesting observation :db
 

winemaker81

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however if I am using bitter sweet crab apple for tannin it should help
Good point. It makes sense that any fruit wine with tannin levels approaching red wine levels would benefit, light or dark colored.

I've only got 1 bottle of elderberry left -- I may open it today when my son & his fiance arrive -- she and her mother love the elderberry so I've been giving it to my future d-in-l. We'll taste a sample and she can take the remainder with her.

Note: In addition to being an interesting experiment, it's also "promoting good relations with the future in-laws via wine!"
 

purpletongue

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I find that young reds don't get much,
That's interesting. As a newb I find I'm trying my wines quite young. And the difference between letting it breath and decant vs. straight out of the bottle is pretty profound, but I only have a few vintages under my belt so I see your point that it's not a solid rule, and too much of 02, being "fermenters" can obviously be a bad thing. Another note, I find even after degassing, with a young wine there is still small trace c02. My hypothesis is when this is lifted out during decanting, swirling, it pulls out with it some of the esters and phenols which increase the bouquet (the point of swirling after all), and the introduction of o2 smooths out the edges of the underdeveloped sharp young wine.
 

winemaker81

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That's interesting. As a newb I find I'm trying my wines quite young. And the difference between letting it breath and decant vs. straight out of the bottle is pretty profound, but I only have a few vintages under my belt so I see your point that it's not a solid rule, and too much of 02, being "fermenters" can obviously be a bad thing.
It may be that your nose and palate are more sensitive than mine.
 

winemaker81

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@purpletongue, I was thinking about this last night when I opened a of my 2019 unoaked 2nd run blend (mixture of Malbec, Merlot, Zinfandel). Just for the heckuvit I compared straight and aerated samples of the wine. I couldn't detect any difference in the aroma, but the aerated had a jammier taste to it.

Thinking further, I realized that most of the wines where I didn't experience any between the aerated and unaerated samples were the budget California reds, like Apothic. My understanding from a recent thread is that a lot of wines in this category use MegaPurple and possibly other additives. This makes me wonder if that has any effect upon the effects of aeration?
 

purpletongue

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@purpletongue, I was thinking about this last night when I opened a of my 2019 unoaked 2nd run blend (mixture of Malbec, Merlot, Zinfandel). Just for the heckuvit I compared straight and aerated samples of the wine. I couldn't detect any difference in the aroma, but the aerated had a jammier taste to it.

Thinking further, I realized that most of the wines where I didn't experience any between the aerated and unaerated samples were the budget California reds, like Apothic. My understanding from a recent thread is that a lot of wines in this category use MegaPurple and possibly other additives. This makes me wonder if that has any effect upon the effects of aeration?
I think I seen Apothic before isn't it very sweet? Not familiar with megapurple additives. Sounds like it sucks and is a commercial hack.
 

winemaker81

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@purpletongue, MegaPurple is a commercial grape concentrate that is used for color and a hint of sweetness. Here is one description.

Apothic is one of a group of CA reds typically priced $8 to $12 USD. Technically it's a dry red, but if it has MegaPurple (apparently most vendors don't admit to it) it will have a tiny bit of sweetness that enhances flavor.
 

Rice_Guy

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yesterday was a sweetening bench trial on a crab apple (tannin) brouchet, the principal of improving with air exposure over night seems to also apply, today milder and the favorite was a lower sugar.
Good point. It makes sense that any fruit wine with tannin levels approaching red wine levels would benefit, light or dark colored.
? ? however if I am using bitter sweet crab apple for tannin it should help
Question:
.what kind of chemistry is going on? (polymerization of tannin as it turns less reductive ?)
.was something else happening since the samples sat over night with air?
.bottle shock type of chemistry?
 
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winemaker81

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was something else happening since the samples sat over night with air?
Finding an informative article on breathing seems tough. Most of the articles I read gloss over the details, other than tannins. However, one article said that breathing affects pigments in the wine, and stated that is one reason why reds benefit more than whites.

I would not think that applies to crab apple wine, as the wine is light colored. I wouldn't think it bottle shock, as my experience is that bottle shock is a negative. My best guess is the tannins softened via oxidation overnight.
 

Rice_Guy

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it could be pigment
60FE3D68-48E7-4252-AAD3-7965817CC5A4.jpeg
Finding an informative article on breathing seems tough. Most of the articles I read gloss over the details, other than tannins. However, one article said that breathing affects pigments in the wine, and stated that is one reason why reds benefit more than whites.

I would not think that applies to crab apple wine, as the wine is light colored. I wouldn't think it bottle shock, as my experience is that bottle shock is a negative. My best guess is the tannins softened via oxidation overnight.
 

David Lewis

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OK, so I broke down and decided I should drink MegaPurple straight. You should see my tongue now; my eight year thinks that I cursed.

Thank you everyone that has provided input on this thread. So much info was provided and I still need a season or two to take in some of the advice that was given from you all!!!

I had a tasting tonight with a close group of friends that 'allowed' them to taste the progression of the wines that me (and my small group) have created For this comparison, varietal meant nothing. It was all about drinkability.
  • Year 1/2018 grapes - (bottled and fixed and fixed again and fixed again) - F . This wine has no hope. We have tried to fix all the screw ups but it just is not good (except for that one guy that will drink anything)
  • Year 2/2019 grapes - About to be bottled. Some slight fixes for O2 issues - D+ . Not good, but it is better than most 8$ wines. Group consumes was 2 out of six would throw it away; 3 out of six would drink it but not love it; and that last guy will drink anything.
  • Year 3 /2020 grapes- no fixes. This wine was just pressed this fall. - B- . I am ecstatic at this point. All varietals are coming in as OK. At this point I am passing, but I still have many months to screw up. hopefully I dont turn that B into anything lower. I'm crossing my fingers on that one.
Wish me luck, and thanks for helping me down the road.

On a side note... I have followed each post to this thread as they have come in... but it wasn't until tonight as I re-read this thread that I realized that I still have so much to learn and soo many gallons to screw up. The support in this group is amazing and thank you everyone that has contributed to the forums here!!
 

winemaker81

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I had a tasting tonight with a close group of friends that 'allowed' them to taste the progression of the wines that me (and my small group) have created For this comparison, varietal meant nothing. It was all about drinkability.
If you haven't already, read through this thread. The OP is unhappy with a rose and the crew tossed out ideas regarding how to make use of the wine. I won't ruin the surprise ending, but advise watching the video.

Monday we bottled my son's second wine, a blackberry melomel that he sweetened with cherry juice as the wine was flat and tasteless. He sweetened it in July or August, but was unhappy with the result, so he ignored it. I pushed him to bottle it.

During bottling we discovered that the blackberry flavor, while light, has come out so it's not a total disappointment. During a post-bottling glass of Coffee Port, we searched on Sangria, Mulled Wine, and other recipes. While it's not what he was hoping for, he's now satisfied that it will get used.
 

winemaker81

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Sorry for the side discussion, but do you find second run fermentations to be generally pretty good?
The short answer is yes.

2019 second run.jpg

My 2019 is a blend of Malbec, Merlot, and Zinfandel -- I was going to age them separately but realized it was more work than I wanted. So the three were fermented separately and then field blended. I reserved a carboy which remained unoaked and put the remainder in a neutral 54 liter barrel with 6 oz Hungarian oak cubes, which barrel aged for 10 months.

The wine is lighter than the 1st runs in color, body, and flavor, but still a very tasty lighter red wine.

The two wines are totally different -- the unoaked is very fruity and the Zinfandel is very forward. The oaked still displays fruit but has nice oaky notes and is richer (barrel aging will do that). I suspect that both have aging potential, but other than a few bottles, that won't happen. 2nd run is what ya drink while the 1st is aging ...

However ... how you make the 2nd run is tremendously important. Don't press the 1st run hard, as you'll take all the "goodness" out of the pomace and leave nothing for the 2nd run. I was taught to use half as much water as the yield of the 1st run (e.g., first run is 10 gallons, use 5 for the 2nd run). Last year and this year I used ~40% instead of ~50%, and the wine comes out richer. Quality over quantity.
 

David Violante

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(my edit was taking out some pronouns... the bane of my existence)

@winemaker81 Bryan, your post about using less water for a better concentration on second runs had me thinking about ways to concentrate wine for better flavor, feel, etc... (spawned in part from how Coloma concentrates their juices). There's of course using more fruit and less-to-no water, and also as I've learned here, using a barrel because it will also concentrate the wine by drawing out water.

I found a website that has a super interesting study on the actual evaporation of water out of wine in barrels, based on differing humidity and temperature. Long story short, the higher the humidity of where the barrels are stored, the less water pulled out of the wine. It seems like we're looking for a more flavorful wine by doing so, but in larger operations it could lead to a significant loss of wine (and revenue) and also an increase in percentage of alcohol.

Here's the link from microcool citing a study from 1991
Here's a PDF lecture from JHenderson on Barrels & Ageing (2014)
Here's a link to a similar study in the Journal of Applied Thermal Engineering (2004)
 

winemaker81

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@David Violante, I will read the studies you listed, but I can already agree with your point. The former owner of my 54 liter barrels said topup was about half a liter per month. My experience was closer to 3/4 liter.

However, last year my one barrel was in a position where it got some sun. This year both barrels are protected from the sun, and my topup is far less.

To the best of my knowledge, alcohol evaporates with the water, so the ABV remains the same. I'll have to look into that.
 

David Violante

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Here is a better link to the study in the Journal of Applied Thermal Engineering.

Conclusion:
This paper analyses mass transfer through the staves of oak casks. The conclusion drawn is that the stationary stage of mass transfer in a cask can be modeled using a Fickian type diffusion model. Mass transfer modelling depends on the internal and external transfer coefficients, which are both fitted to experimental data.The adjusted data are applied to 2 case studies, and in both cases the absolute error of the model is 0.2%. The model can therefore be said to predict wine losses satisfactorily in ageing facilities,depending on the porosity of the oak used and the temperature, relative humidity and air velocity in the cask area. The model is useful for establishing interior design conditions for ageing facilities to maintain wine losses to a predetermined percentage. Applied Thermal Engineering 25 (2005) 709–718717
 
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