Lemon Wine/"Skeeter Pee" ... Results of aging and stability over 12 years

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Sep 18, 2011
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I've never heard of anyone managing to keep Lemon Wine around this long - often "truly good and truly gone" ... so here's the results

I just opened a 12 year old wine bottle of ReaLemon-type Lemon Wine ("skeeter pee").

The wine was still clear and very pale golden yellow with no hint of discoloration.
The wine had developed no off tastes or aromas.

There was no aroma loss that I could tell. Flavor and aroma were excellent.

I'd had some concern about the possibility of citric acid (the primary acid in citrus) to show oxidization in wine more quickly over time. This did not turn out to be an issue.

The good shelf life results of this citrus fruit wine for this long period was helped by:

1)Sulfiting ... the ReaLemon juice product contains sodium benzoate and sodium sulfite already. Some additional sulfiting was done during wine stabilization. The juice was already a processed juice that had been "fined" for shelf stability (and to avoid delayed bitterness from limonoids.)
To some degree the ascorbic acid content of the juice also likely helps as an antioxidant.

2) the ABV% was 10% (OG 1.074) which is a bit higher than what I might normally do with lemon wine ... but I knew that I was going to put a portion of the batch down for long term aging/storage and the ABV helps.

3)Very careful sanitation and limiting oxygen during all transfers, storage and handling.

4)The tight closures (using synthetic black Zorks) also worked well to limit the micro-infiltration of oxygen. There are no tannins added to this wine so there is no conversion of tannins though aging needed.

5) dark green bottles ... stored in a dark cellar at a very consistent temperature.

This batch was made with D-47 yeast (not a borrowed slurry), hydrated, and pitched as a must-adjusted starter ... must pH at pitch was pH3.2
Fermax and DAP
Fermentation temp: 60*-63*F
Fermented to dryness.
All was bulk aged 6 months before backsweetening and bottling. Fining agents were not used.
Part of the run (the still-wine portion) was stabilized with a light dose of potassium sorbate and K-meta - the other, non-stabilized part was put to champagne bottles and had secondary ferment using KV1116.

The still-wine was in dark green, Bordeaux/claret style bottles ... closures were Zork corks with a very tight fit.

The temp in the cellar of my basement is very stable and not near any heating/cooling source.

fwiw- the champagne bottles had a wire baskets added.
The sparkling version was gone within months! ... but really glad I took the time to put down the still-wine version.
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I have some in a 3-gallon carboy that I've been meaning to sweeten and bottle for several years. I was letting it clear w/o fining agents and kinda just forgot about it. Maybe there's still hope for it :D
Wow impressive writeup! I started kegging this year and have it on tap. I sweeten with ribena which gives it a beautiful hue. I don't drink it that often but it's good to bring to peoples houses now that we can go places! One thing I have noticed is that it doesn't carbonate as much as beer. I don't really mind but might play with that in the future.
I have some in a 3-gallon carboy that I've been meaning to sweeten and bottle for several years. I was letting it clear w/o fining agents and kinda just forgot about it. Maybe there's still hope for it :D
I just bottled it tonight. Actually, I bottled about half and dumped about half. (I'll dump the rest soon enough, I was hoping I could pretend it was lemon sherry) It was still perfectly clear yellow, but smelled solvent-y. I tasted it, and it wasn't horrible but seemed like something that would give you a headache immediately without ever getting you drunk. (did I mention the airlock was dry?) There wasn't much acid left. I'm guessing it's full of acetaldehyde and ethyl acetate from oxidation and esterification. And maybe ethyl citrate, but that one is pretty nontoxic and supposedly doesn't have much flavor or aroma.

I do feel just a little hangoverish after drinking one glass of it, but that could be my imagination.

Next time I bulk age something for a long time, I'll fill the air lock with glycerin or propylene glycol so it doesn't evaporate. (if either of those get sucked-back somehow it's no big deal)

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