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Why bulk age in a carboy?

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Donatelo

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After a wine has cleared and sat in a dark cool place for a period of time , why is it necessary to age for 3-6 months in a carboy? Will it not age in a bottle as well as in a 6 gallon carboy?
 

NorCal

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The wines will age in either. Perhaps some micro-ox through the cork, but not sure it’s significant over a carboy. The biggest difference is that you will be serving out of the bottle. You will want to make sure sediment is eliminated or at least minimized, before bottling.
 

Donatelo

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I never bottle unless the wine is crystal clear. and the fermentation is well finished.
 

balatonwine

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FWIIW: I have had what looks like crystal clear wine still drop some minor sediment for months. The human eye is not a perfect indicator of micro suspended particles. But of course, I also do not use fining agents. So, bulk age at least 4 to 5 months for my whites. Won't even consider bottling last year's white wine until Spring. My only red -- even longer. For those with experience with fining agents, they may give different advise of course. ;)

Otherwise, bulk aging also allows a wine to "find itself" more fully as a larger unit. Putting into a bottle too soon, might --- just saying "might" --- result in subtle variety of aging results in each bottle. Which may be fun if one likes variety with each bottle.
 

Snowcreek

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Concur with all of the above, plus one additional reason that I let my fruit wines bulk age is to allow a longer period of maturation and a window to make final adjustments before bottling.

Some of my first fruit wines ended up overly sweet and unbalanced because of a less restrained approach when backsweetening as well as not realizing that time again would allow the fruit profiles to open up and come forward. Leaving these wines in bulk for longer periods lets me make better adjustments on the back end and have a product that is more balanced in the bottle afterwards.

Sometimes some of the lower end kits can benefit from some later adjustments as well, so it’s just become my norm now. At least 6 months for whites and 12 months to as long as I can keep my fingers out of it for reds. Quick drinkers like mist-style kits stay in bulk for 3-6 months for me as well. I’ve sometimes gotten fluffy wisps of sediment in some of my first wines when rushing them to bottle earlier than what I do currently.
 

Johnd

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This question has come up multiple times on the site. There seem to be three tangible reasons, and a bunch of theoretical ones. The tangibles include:

* dropping of sediment and wine crystals.
* assuring complete degassing.
* keeping your hands off the wine until it's in its prime.
Well said Jim, I suggest one more: Finishing the wine is a tangible reason as well. Whether you are oaking, sweetening, adjusting tannins or acidity after fermentation, it needs time to develop before tasting and evaluation of these things can be done properly, IMHO.
 

Donatelo

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I suppose that I must mature from my infant wine tasting mouth, I've been a beer drinker, with a taste for Captain Morgan for all of my life. Although, I do enjoy the taste of wine. The local vineyards around here started me on this journey, but as of yet I have not developed a preference for a particular type of wine. I do enjoy a good peach Chardonnay.
I'll try to wait for the development of my wines a little longer.
 

Johnd

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I suppose that I must mature from my infant wine tasting mouth, I've been a beer drinker, with a taste for Captain Morgan for all of my life. Although, I do enjoy the taste of wine. The local vineyards around here started me on this journey, but as of yet I have not developed a preference for a particular type of wine. I do enjoy a good peach Chardonnay.
I'll try to wait for the development of my wines a little longer.
LOL!!! I certainly wasn’t inferring anything about your tasting ability or preferences, just why I bulk age, but your post made me laugh! Bulk aging is a choice, not a necessity, and as the Chief Winemaker of your wines, it’s your choice! If you’re perfectly happy with what you’re producing, and have fun doing it, I say roll with it!
 

Ajmassa

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Everyone has their justified reasons of what they choose to do. Whether it’s to open up carboys, detract from dipping into it, sediment dropping etc....
In the end I think if you can bulk age longer than it’s to your benefit. Bottling is so ‘final’. No more adjusting or tweaking at all. Keeping it in bulk keeps your options open- as others have said.
Just Like when we build your deck soon, and we are running out the planks, we won’t be putting 2 screws per joist every 16” as we go. Just a couple screws a board to keep em from shifting as we continue. When finished we can then just pop a few screws to adjust spacing if needed. And screwing all planks at the end allows us snap a chalk line to easily keep our screws very straight and professional looking. — screwing each one home as we go can work, but more potential for uneven spacing and wavy screw patterns.
 
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Donatelo

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More than I ever wanted to know about carpentry. I tried to make a deck once , but after 6 months the boards warped and turned the ends up. Just because I said that I would finish it there was no need for my wife to remind me every 6 months. Nag, Nag , Nag
 

Arne

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More than I ever wanted to know about carpentry. I tried to make a deck once , but after 6 months the boards warped and turned the ends up. Just because I said that I would finish it there was no need for my wife to remind me every 6 months. Nag, Nag , Nag
Only six months? My goodness, doesn't she know you have to have a plan?? Think maybe you best sit back with a glass of wine and think about it, LOL, Arne.
 

winojoe

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Bulk aging helps to develop the wines character and flavor. Kind of like when making a pizza dough, or salsa, a day in advance to allow the flavors to meld together. I have tried this both way by taking the same batch of wine and bottling some of it and then bulk aging the rest for a year. After the year was up, I did notice a difference and felt that the bulk aging had a better character to it. This was also confirmed with a blind taste test amongst some fellow wine snobs.:b With that said, there is a point of diminishing returns when bulk aging. Two years is my absolute max aging period, but have not done that in a long time since my philosophy now is to not empty the carboy until the carboy is again needed.
 

GaDawg

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Bulk aging helps to develop the wines character and flavor. Kind of like when making a pizza dough, or salsa, a day in advance to allow the flavors to meld together.

I have not found that to be true at all. That's like saying 1500ml bottle produces better wine than a 750 ml bottle.I have found that bulk ageing is absolutely no difference to bottle ageing.
 

Scooter68

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My reasons for bulk aging are pretty much in line with the standard replies:
> Allowing the wine to clear and EVERYTHING possible to drop out - including the previously unseen particles.
> Allowing me to make final adjustments after the wine has softened (Lost that young wine bite)

Having said that I have bottled at 4 months and things turned out fine. On a larger batch you can also bottle say 1 gallon out of a 5 gallon batch and move the remaining to 1 gallon carboys. That would allow you to tinker with one gallon at a time, oaking some, adding other flavors (Like cinnamonm, or vanilla) just whatever you might chose to add. And finally that gives you something to drink sooner as well later.
 

balatonwine

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Bulk aging helps to develop the wines character and flavor. Kind of like when making a pizza dough, or salsa, a day in advance to allow the flavors to meld together.
This is true. Very, very true.

But... Yesterday I really wanted pizza. So I made the dough and.... horror of horror... made the pizza immediately. Of course all the yummy topping and the bottle of Guinness I had with the pizza distracted me from the less than perfect dough. There are sideway "solutions" to everything. ;)
 

Scooter68

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Waiting a day to make pizza after making the dough? ARRGH - And all these years I've been making that premium Chef Boyardee pizza wrong. Sigh.
 

Donatelo

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This next batch, I am going to age half in the carboy and age 3 gallon jugs. one of which I will bottle quickly. Do a little testing. Seems to be a lot of differences of opinion on here.
 

Scooter68

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Just remember if you EVER see everyone agreeing on any subject on here - You have probably entered the "Twilight Zone".
I do Like your idea of splitting up a batch. Gives you freedom to experiment a bit.
 

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