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Old 03-03-2010, 12:32 AM   #1
MarmotMead
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Default Time - how long to age?

It seems that the more time I allow my wines to condition, the better the end product. Generally, I rack 2-3 times and age about 6 months before bottling. After bottling, I typically let it sit for another 3-6 months. Having lurked here for some time, I sense that much of what is made is consumed well before a year passes.

There are clearly gains to be made from aging, but the bulk of the gains are at the front end, and the "returns" from aging seem likely to diminish over time (To illustrate with an example: a wine might achieve 80% of its potential after a year. Perhaps year two adds 15% and then year 3 maybe adds the last 5%. It might thereafter decline in quality. Just for instance.)

I guess the short question is:

When is too soon to drink? On a short curve, is it reasonable to expect to get 75% after 6 months?

There are legions of factors here -- the type of wine, alcohol content, the ingredients, the recipe, sanitation, storage issues, etc. Just assume a standard apple wine recipe, good storage conditions, reasonable sanitation. Is a drinkable product achievable in 6-8 months? How much better can you expect it to get in the next 6 months? When will a generic apple wine peak?

Thoughts?

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Old 03-03-2010, 03:16 AM   #2
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I think quite a few of us have had some experience with apple wine thanks to Ed Wort's great apfelwein recipe.

I have made a handful of ~10% apple wines. In the recipe Ed gives, he mentions you're good to bottle at 1 month and consume 1 month later if I remember correctly. He goes on to say it's great at 6 months and heavenly at a year (I'm paraphrasing, of course).

From personal experience, I can tell you that you can drink at 1 month and it will be good. It's a little harsh and hot, but very tasty. I can safely say that at 3 months, you will be very pleased with the product. I actually stumbled upon a "hidden" bottle last week and I popped it open. This was from a batch I made last July. It was very, very good. IMHO, not quite worth the wait as compared to 3 months, but definitely better.

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Old 03-03-2010, 11:24 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by MarmotMead View Post
There are legions of factors here -- the type of wine, alcohol content, the ingredients, the recipe, sanitation, storage issues, etc. Just assume a standard apple wine recipe, good storage conditions, reasonable sanitation. Is a drinkable product achievable in 6-8 months? How much better can you expect it to get in the next 6 months? When will a generic apple wine peak?
As you say, a number of factors come into play here so there's really no cut and dried rule. Generally the more tannins, acid, and alcohol, the longer the wine will take to peak. Conversely, wines on the lower end of the scale will be ready much sooner. Also, a wine with residual sweetness will be ready to drink sooner as well. Yes, you could have a drinkable product in six months. I make a sparkling apple wine/cider that's delicious in 6-8 months.
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Old 03-03-2010, 01:06 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by summersolstice View Post
As you say, a number of factors come into play here so there's really no cut and dried rule. Generally the more tannins, acid, and alcohol, the longer the wine will take to peak. Conversely, wines on the lower end of the scale will be ready much sooner. Also, a wine with residual sweetness will be ready to drink sooner as well. Yes, you could have a drinkable product in six months. I make a sparkling apple wine/cider that's delicious in 6-8 months.
I agree. I opened a bottle of blackberry wine last night from 2006. It's reaching its peak now, as it was a pretty high alcohol wine (not on purpose). I have some big reds like a tannot that is about 2.5 years old, and it has a little ways to go. I have some lighter whites that are made from apple cider that are really nice less than a year or two old.

A high alcohol wine will simply taste too "hot" until it's aged and mellowed. A wine that has been oaked or is naturally very tannic will be harsh until it's had some age. Those wines will be more complex, and need more time.

A simple hard lemonade (just fermented lemonade) can be ready in less than 3 months, and an apple wine without added tannin can be wonderful in 9 months.
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