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I am making a red wine from grapes, the way I did it is, I let the grapes in the wine for 15 days before taking them out in order to extract more colour and tannins and then I racked the wine off its lees after 3 days. Although I was aware of the issue of oxidation when wine is exposed to air, at the time of racking I did not pay attention to it well and so my racking had lot of wine splashing in the carboy.Reading about the issue of oxidation online, I am quite worried if my wine would go bad. however I am also confused, I read in the link posted below that oxidation would be helpful in the case of red wines but not white. So could someone please clarify this? Do I need to be very cautious when bottling and storing or is exposure to air a good thing? (In red wines). The link as mentioned: https://winemakermag.com/541-oxidation-as-partner-techniques

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The author of the article is reliable, Daniel Pambianchi has written books on homewinemaking.

Avoid oxydation

You need to be concerned about oxydation mainly after the completion of fermentation. Also oxidation is less prone to occur if the quantity of SO2 (sulfites) is sufficient, adding campden tablets can help if you want to age your wine for a long time. The most important thing in the article, in my opinion, is the 10 tips to avoid oxidation:

  1. Transfer whites quickly to carboys
  2. Adjust the pH to a level less prone to oxidation
  3. Use sulfite as required based on the wine’s pH level
  4. Top up carboys, barrels and tanks
  5. Rack by gravity whenever possible
  6. Avoid pumps
  7. Use closed systems for transferring wines
  8. Use ascorbic acid diligently
  9. Store wine at a cool temperature
  10. Inspect your equipment regularly

Macroaeration

What the article mentions, is that a splash racking could help a red improve its fruit character. I would recommend to perform this only in the first racking, when the fermentation is still strong, after that introducing oxygen is more risky. Honestly, I do not think that it will make a big difference on the finished product, the origin and quality of the grapes is so much more important.

Microoxygenation

Daniel mentions that storing wine in a wood barrel is a form of microoxygenation. We all know that is has been done for centuries (without being called Microoxygenation). Not only the wine ages slowly (some air is slowly introduced) but it also takes some of the wood character, flavor and tannins. The wine still needs to be bottled after months to stop the aging when you are satisfied with it, otherwise it will oxidize eventually.

To answer the question

It is not a big problem to introduce oxygen in early stages of fermenation (it will even help to start the fermentation). But when storing, aging and bottling the wine, we need to be more careful. My conclusion is that if you are making some good wine already and want to try to go a step up, you may try those techniques. If you can, split your batch in two, and try these techniques in one batch and then compare the results.

  • I don't know anyone that uses Ascorbic Acid, this is why wineland.co.za/new-findings-regarding-ascorbic-acid-in-wine – farmersteve Dec 4 '17 at 16:10
  • I don't use it either, but was aware of its use. Your article mentions "has long been used in the wine industry..." but the summary doesn't say it is bad, just that if it is used, you need the correct concentration, otherwise you can make it worse. I suppose that is why Daniel Pambianchi use the word "diligently". – Philippe Dec 4 '17 at 17:14
  • Sulfites are much more the industry standard – farmersteve Dec 4 '17 at 17:19
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I have 20 years of winemaking experience, 15 years owning my own winery. Let me tell you what I did and what the vast majority of winemakers do. Very little. Use sulphites and maintain their levels based on pH of your wine. Keep your barrels topped up. Gently rack, but don't go overboard. Red wine, especially tannic ones, need some Oxygen to soften the tannins. Getting some oxygen in your wine during racking isn't going to do much. For a time I would fill my tanks with Nitrogen and my bottles too. Then I stopped because I couldn't tell a difference years later. Just keep an eye on your sulphites.

If there is one thing I could tell amateur winemakers is keep your sulfite levels up. From post fermentation to bottling. Your wine will thank you!

  • It is worth keeping in mind that some consider adding sulphites to wine to be a very bad idea. I personally will not consume wine I know to have suphites added, which cuts down my choice from modern commercially produced wines. It seems to be a modern trend that has increased in use since more wine has been pasteurised, micro filtered or sulphite/sorbated ."Live" wines containing low active yeast levels do seem to be able to handle oxygen much better than sterile wines. – barking.pete Dec 5 '17 at 20:34
  • That's a joke, right? Wines have been sulfited since at least the Romans when amphora were in use. academicwino.com/2014/09/history-sulfite-use-wine.html There are way more sulfites on many other foods than wine. The list is too long for me to type up extoxnet.orst.edu/faqs/additive/sulf_tbl.htm – farmersteve Dec 5 '17 at 21:17
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    Sulphites can be a serious allergen - sufficient for its use in food stuffs to be regulated by law. I tend to avoid food preserved with added sulphites or sulphur dioxide. IMHO ancient vintners tended to sanitise their vessels with sulphur dioxide to control microbes on the surface of the empty vessel not preserve the wine per se. Sulphites do occur in nature and naturally in foods but at levels usually an order of magnitude or more lower than that found in "preserved" foods or drinks – barking.pete Dec 5 '17 at 23:19
  • Putting sulfites on a porous surface like clay will get it into your wine in amphorae. I'm sure they had a heavy hand. My point is that it's been going on for thousands of years. You do know that the fermentation process can create enough sulfites to kick a wine out of the "Organic" wine labeling laws? Sometimes this even from leftover "organic" sulfur that was sprayed on the vines. I agree that sulfites can be a serious allergen, but 99% of people that say they are allergic to sulfites in wine are actually just allergic to wine. – farmersteve Dec 6 '17 at 15:23

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